Review: So Forward
Hello my bookish friends! I am back with a review of SO FORWARD by Mina V. Esguerra. It is the third book in the Six 32 Central series, but it can be read as a standalone with no spoilers. This is a Filipino sports/contemporary romance between a retired figure skater turned Instagram model who is trying to get his MBA and a retired hockey player turned professor and next-in-line to become CEO of her family real estate empire.
Colin Valerio has been performing practically all his life. From national team figure skating, to underwear modeling, and now posting (shirtless) selfies daily for his adoring audience. Many don’t know though that at 29, he’s quietly earning his MBA degree—that is, if he can fix his final paper. It’s got too much heart, not enough business.
National hockey team medalist, outstanding young professional, MBA prof on leave...Lexa Lorenzo is determined and driven, and did all that by age 32. She should be her family corp’s next CEO. But she’s all business, not enough heart, and her mentor/boss/aunt wants her to be more accessible, approachable, “charming.”As luck would have it, Lexa’s alma mater calls her in to help a graduating MBA student—and it’s Colin Valerio, fellow winter sports athlete, walking/talking ball of charm.
She has the sports and business background he needs. He is a natural at all the things she’s told to improve on, and may be able to teach her a thing or two. Let the lessons begin.
While SO FORWARD didn't have nearly as much hockey or figure skating as I was hoping for, the romance was incredibly sweet, and the characters had beautiful depth. Colin has been keeping his business school a secret for nearly two years, out of a combined need for space (having grown up a figure skater with very involved Rink parents) and a fear of failure. He is a popular Instagram model who is always on display, always performing, but never really feels seen, and even in relationships has a tendency to be viewed as "too much." Lexa on the other hand is smart and fierce but can't shake her childhood perception of being the "scary" kid, the "mean" cousin, the "aloof" one. She's the favorite to take over the family company, but only if she can make people see her as more relatable.
SO FORWARD is about a 3/5 on the heat scale. The first intimate scene is about 35-40% in, and there are a few open-door sex scenes. They aren't the hottest scenes ever, but they aren't trying to be. They are there to support the emotions and intimacy between Colin and Lexa. Honestly? These were some of my favorite kissing scenes I've read in a while though. I really loved the way the physicality and connection was described and the emphasis on making out, whether it was their first kiss, passionate sex, or them taking their time.
Colin is bi, and I really liked the way Mina V. Esguerra included in her author's note that this isn't #ownvoices. She made a point of sharing that detail, despite the fact that it wouldn't have been obvious otherwise, and she clearly took care to reach out to sensitivity readers and to do her best to write good representation.
I highly recommend this one, and I can't wait to read the rest of the books in this series, especially the book about Colin's spitfire sister and her famous FilAm hockey player boyfriend ... her childhood forbidden love.
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