The Key to Happily Ever After
by Tif Marcelo
📖 | Genre: Romance
⭐️| Rating: 2.75/5
📚| Review: As sweet as the frosting on wedding cake and as syrupy as the signature cocktail at the reception, The Key to Happily Ever After is a love story about three Filipino sisters, Marisol, Jane, and Pearl. The novel begins after they take over their family’s wedding planning business, Rings & Roses. The trio is trying to keep the shop running while navigating their own ambitions and personal lives. The narrative primarily focuses on the relationship between oldest sister Mari and youngest sister Pearl. Author Tif Marcelo explores a complex dynamic: the pair compete to prove the other wrong and call out their differences without realizing how similar they actually are.
Though the story has plenty of cheesy eye-rolling moments, Marcelo never lets the secondary plots about the weddings get too ridiculous. The sisters handle ceremonies and receptions with special care and grace. I appreciated how this novel acknowledges the stress of wedding planning and the intensity of the industry. As characters, Mari, Jane, and Pearl are all very much kick-ass female entrepreneurs taking the picturesque setting of Washington, D.C. by storm.
However, this novel is painfully slow-going. The sisters take chapter upon chapters to address issues they express internally through their own points of view and even longer to come up with a mutual understanding. Admittedly, while this is closer to how people resolve conflict in real-life, it was a bit too monotonous for me and I almost put it down. There was also a lot going on for each of the sisters, both personally and professionally. The story was easy to follow but it felt like one of the problems the plot could have maybe done without.
As a bride-to-be, I loved the detailed descriptions of wedding planning and ceremony spaces. It was fun to imagine certain parts of these weddings come to life! A lighthearted read that helped me break a reading rut, The Key to Happily Ever After is cute, but it was too character-driven and sappy for me to recommend to a non-romance reader.