Book Thoughts: The Boyfriend Backtrack by Dawn Lanuza

I may have been known as the author of the heartbreaking A Miracle, an author who loved “sad” endings. (In my defense, most of my novels end with a positive note. Readers just won’t forgive me for a few “sad” endings⁠—sad with quotes because they weren’t to me. Hehehehe.) But no, I actually love happy endings more, and this why I started reading Romance Class books (plus the fact that I shifted from print to digital).

Anyway, when Taal erupted last January, they released a bundle comprising 22 ebooks for only $10 (you can add, by the way) to help fund Rock Ed Philippines‘s relief activities. That’s only around Php 510.00 for 22 HEA stories! The authors went that far to help, so the least I could do as a reader is to make sure these books don’t get lost in my memory card.

My original plan was to write a review after I’ve read all novels, but I decided against it after it took me ten days to finish the first book I decided to read, The Boyfriend Backtrack (because adulting). The short review below contains spoilers, so read at your own risk. (I can’t suppress my feelings, sorry. Thank you for understanding.)

I didn’t know that that could be possible, that you could be in love and not know it until something shakes you to your very core.

Dawn Lanuza, The Boyfriend Backtrack

The Boyfriend Backtrack, Dawn Lanuza

Regina Cortes just got engaged, and it was supposed to be a happily-ever-after with her fiancé Kevin, except that she had flashbacks of her exes—Thomas, Josh, and Dirk, as well as Chase, one of her guy best friends in college—while he was proposing. Together with her friends, she tries to figure out what the somewhat roll call of her relationships means by making peace with her past.

I was contemplating which part I liked better: Josh’s or Dirk’s. Regina’s relationship with them had an interesting turn of events, unlike how it turned out for Thomas—theirs was anticlimactic. And it was okay, as it seemed that every ending of her relationship represented a “kind” of ending, if you know what I mean (i.e., choosing oneself, getting dumped, being cheated on, denying one’s feelings, mutual decision).

“We could have been together if you didn’t feel the need to pursue that. We could have been living in suburban hell with a kid if you didn’t think you could be all that.”

Oh. I let out a laugh. I try to hold it back but I couldn’t control it. This is what I missed out on for breaking up with him? Suburban hell?

Dawn Lanuza, The Boyfriend Backtrack

Going back, the humor incorporated in Dirk’s part made it one of my favorite parts of the story, particularly “The Ballad of the Burnt Mattress” (I am willing to pay extra just to hear Dirk’s album). I could somehow relate because I wrote songs for one guy when I was in college, though Dirk was on another level.

But if we are talking about Regina’s character development, Josh’s part stung. I could see how Regina was magnetized by Josh’s charisma, only to get trapped (and choose to stay trapped) in a third-party situation. But just as she thought she was no longer an option, everything felt wrong. I guess it was her conscience activating, and I appreciated this side of her.

Guilt ate me up. I couldn’t hold his hand. Couldn’t even look at him. I couldn’t forgive myself for being the reason why someone else got hurt. I didn’t want to parade that around.

Dawn Lanuza, The Boyfriend Backtrack

To be honest, however, I had a different ending in mind. A different “happy ending,” that is, somewhat like Portia’s. I didn’t even realize it was really what the author intended until I backread the first chapter after reading the last one, and everything suddenly connected. I wanted to stop reading in Chapter 9 (reader tantrums, LOL), but I’m glad I stuck around because Chapter 11 had the kilig I was waiting for. I just wish I had the chance to know Chase better.

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