Stay A Little Longer by Dawn Lanuza
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
They were perfect strangers—all perks, no strings. Until they weren’t.
Elan wasn’t supposed to meet Caty. She lived halfway around the world, and he barely left Manila. Yet here he was, giving her a ride to the airport. Convinced that they would never have to see each other again after that day, Elan and Caty started to bond over truths, dares, stolen kisses, and games in hotel rooms and bars.
With brief encounters that turned them from acquaintances to friends — tipping to the point of lovers, always — will Elan and Caty keep settling for a day, or will someone finally dare to stay long enough to discover: Is this love?
Based on an ancient Chinese myth, the gods tie an invisible red cord on the ankle, or a finger, of two people who are destined to be lovers, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The strings can stretch and tangle and delay their story, but it can never break.
Perhaps it was me quickly associating the idea of a story based on fate to an internet-favorite myth, but the legend of the red string of fate was what immediately popped into my head upon the first few chapters. The book started off unconventionally (as if letting us peak into what the rest of the story would be like), with Caty who, eager to get away from her brother’s and friend’s sexual tension, practically forced Elan to give her a ride to the airport. What followed was a series of only hours-long dates, inconveniently once a year, because Elan is a lawyer based in Manila while Caty’s a prop stylist/assistant/bagel eater in New York. These dates, while never planned, developed an interesting, sometimes platonic, mostly romantic, relationship between the two.
They never had enough time, but he would give this to her. Not as a parting gift but as a reason, a way, to convince her he was worth coming back to every time.
What I love about this book is that, while having that charm you’d find in YA, the characters readily acknowledged the issue of time, distance, and attraction- that sure, the latter was very present, but the first two factors are way too loud to ignore. Both have their reasons of staying where they were, and while they are valid, I was also asking the whole time- who’ll cave first? While this isn’t, ideally, a romantic notion, it’s a completely rational thought.
“When you’re in love, everything seems urgent. Everything has to be now. You have to be with them now. You have to know now.”
This had me thinking, because it does make sense, and I figured it doesn’t just apply to romance but also on things you’re passionate about. I’ve always believed it’s better to do things sooner than later, because what’s the use of postponing something you know you really want when you can have it now? Granted, this may not be appropriate for a lot of things, but it does get the message across. For Elan and Caty, the mindset didn’t apply- originally, because at first they were just these two people who met through a mutual friend, and saw each other naked, but went their separate ways with the Pacific Ocean between them. Eventually, across their dates, the attraction was something they had to address.
I’m unsure if I should consider this as a slow-burn, because right off the bat, from their first meeting, the attraction is obvious. What seemed to be the problem was that terrifying, expensive distance. As a wise girl (Caty) pointed out, “Nothing about [this] is convenient.”
“I’ve always thought that for a relationship to begin, one person had to be braver than the other. Someone has to dive in first. It’s never the two of you, together. It’s nice to think of it that way, but there’s always someone who lays out all the cards first.”
Like I said earlier, I kept wondering who would take the leap, because I honestly wanted them both to stay a little longer wherever they were. Caty’s childhood dream was apparently to live in New York, and while it hasn’t been easy, nothing ever is supposed to be. And as a law student grueling long hours on books and codals, I couldn’t imagine shipping myself out of the country after four years of studying plus that bar exam, if Elan were to do it.
I can say though, that I was left completely satisfied with the ending. At first, I thought I wasn’t going to like it (because as all stories go, someone does have to do the adjusting, and it’s not always something you agree with as a reader), but this one ended beautifully. Not exactly a What if It’s Us kind of ending, but it left me with the same feeling.
Elan and Caty’s story felt so authentic and mature, which fits right into the bill of the kind of stories I’ve been looking for lately. This definitely goes on my must-read of 2019. It’s not too complicated, but it gets the message across.
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Dawn Lanuza writes contemporary romance, young adult fiction and prose poetry. She has two first loves – music and writing – and is lucky enough to surround herself with them. She currently lives with her family and a very loved cream toy poodle.
She sometimes blogs at dawnlanuza.com.