I wanted to make it a point to finally be able to cover Cathy Yardley’s adorable romance novel Love, Comment, Subscribe for Asian American Pacific Islander Month, so here we are!
The first book in the Ponto Beach Reunion series focuses on two former classmates, uptight Lily Wang and goofy Tobin Bui. Back in their Ponto Beach high school, they were both members of the self-described Nerd Herd, a sort of catch-all group of smart, driven and creative kids who happened to not be part of the popular crowd. Taiwanese American Lily badly wanted to get in with that latter social circle, but one humiliating lunchtime incident put paid to those ambitions. Ever since, she’s been striving to be the kind of girl who’d be accepted by the cool kids, eventually parlaying her perfectionism, business degree and love of beauty into a successful YouTube channel of mostly make-up tips, with the occasional fashion feature.
Half Vietnamese American, half white British Tobin, on the other hand, was the kind of goofball who was especially skilled at pushing Lily’s buttons. After high school, his interest in video games and sketch comedy led to his dropping out of college in order to focus full time on his growing YouTube channel. Featuring pranks, stunts and live game streams, he’s become phenomenally successful to everyone but his parents, who simply don’t understand the amount of effort and sheer work that goes into creating and maintaining his online business.
With their ten year high school reunion looming, both YouTubers find themselves at a critical career juncture. They each have millions of followers and views, but in the constantly churning world of online influencing, they need to figure out a way to take their brands to the next level or risk stagnation and worse. It’s Lily who originally has the idea for them to collaborate, and while Tobin gives her a hard time about it at first — mostly since they haven’t really spoken in almost ten years — he eventually comes around. The two need to work out how to integrate both their personas and their personalities, as well as their entirely different creative processes in order to build a successful collab. But could they be building more than just a professional partnership as they begin to discover entirely new and attractive sides to one another?
This was an incredibly cute, incredibly sexy tale of two high school frenemies who fall in love several years on, despite their differences. I love how tuned in Ms Yardley is to modern trends and technology, making for an entirely realistic story. Lily, especially, is super relatable. While I had her uptight productivity more in common with her than her eagerness to be admired — and admired her kindness even more than her work ethic, myself — I feel that she’s the kind of heroine many people will find easy to relate to, as she’s truly multi-faceted. It’s so great to watch as she grows and learns over the course of the book.
A few days’ hindsight has made me realize that I’m less fond of Tobin himself. For all that his job is in entertainment, he’s a pretty terrible communicator. I get why he was upset at Lily towards the end, but it’s not her fault that she sounded like his parents and agents and everyone else who has a brain and is concerned about him. Instead of presenting his needs maturely, he basically just freaked out at everyone who had legitimate concerns about his plans. I feel like if everyone around you is being “terrible”, maybe the trouble isn’t them, it’s you? Maybe I, like Lily and everyone else around Tobin, am just too uptight, but I have a hard time believing that impulsiveness always leads to good things. And even so, if it was just him involved, Godspeed and all that. Him freaking out at her, a person he knows to be A Planner, because she’s not immediately on board with the life-altering plans he’s just laid down on her, a girl he’s just started dating, was super gross at best, and kind of a red flag. Guy desperately needs a therapist.
For all that, he’s not the worst romantic interest I’ve ever read, and Ms Yardley does an amazing job of making the relationship between him and Lily and all the events surrounding them flow realistically and entertainingly (and sexily!) I loved, too, how the author sets up the next few books in the series here. I’m already intrigued and semi-invested in the relationships of the other members of the Ponto Beach Nerd Herd and am looking forward to picking up the rest of the books (whenever I find tiiiiiiiiiime.)
Love, Comment, Subscribe (Ponto Beach Reunion #1) by Cathy Yardley was published October 1 2021 by Montlake and is available from all good booksellers, including