Ever Afters in “Once Upon a Player” by Agay Llanera

This is one of the sweetest, most engaging, and amazing contemporary romance stories I have ever read. Before I get ahead of myself and squeal with delight, here’s the blurb to whet your appetite:

Gorgeous college senior Val Fabian is a player in every sense of the word. She’s the star spiker of her university’s volleyball team, and she never runs out of dates. But it seems that this year, she has finally been bitten by the commitment bug. She sets her sights on an unexpected target–the unassuming yet ultra-cute Jake Clementia. Val is used to getting what she wants, and is sure she’ll snag him before graduation. But in the process of winning his heart, she is sideswiped by a surprise move that sends her tumbling from her pedestal.


Ah, Val, Val, Val… How do I even begin to describe Valerie Fabian? She’s fab, a go-getter, and a star athlete. She’s a college student with her own fanbase and a group of sponsors and suitors throwing themselves at her feet. She’s got it all.

Just fabulous.

But Val isn’t a saint by any stretch of the imagination. And that’s why I like her so much. Although written in third person, things were in Val’s perspective, which made the story better. Val isn’t perfect: she’s hung up on keeping appearances and living a fairytale dream of getting everything she wants. She’s a gal who likes luxury. And why not? She used to live like a princess until her father left the family.

But that’s what makes Val so human. She has her faults, and her mistakes kept piling up until it all blew in her face. And what did she do? In the end, she made things right. How? Well, you’ll just have to read to find out.

Also, I first thought that her friends, Kat and Dessa, also fellow volleyball players, were just there for the comic relief. Boy was I wrong. Llanera handled their friendship with an expert hand. Kat and Dessa were real people, with their own plans and secrets, but they were such amazing friends. Yes, we need more girl friendships like this.

I also loved that Llanera used volleyball metaphors to express how Val was feeling at times, which made it a solid story.


Now let’s talk about the romance. I stayed up well into the night just to finish this book because I COULD NOT BELIEVE WHAT VAL DID FOR HER IDEA OF ROMANCE!

In the story, we’ve got Rico, Jake, and EJ, and I won’t tell you how those three guys fit into the story, but they were amazing. And it’s also nice to read about a girl (Val is just shy of being six feet tall) being taller than her date when she’s in heels for a change.

Lovely Complex

The romance WAS NOT CHEESY (See what I did there, Ms. Llanera? *wink, wink*). It was brilliant and smooth. It didn’t feel forced or too glittery. I also liked that the guy called Val out on her mistakes. In total, the story was absolutely fabulous! Now excuse me while I go hunt down Agay Llanera’s other works…

Amazon | Smashwords | Buqo

*The paperback version, published by Spark Books (Anvil), is available in

National Bookstore outlets in the Philippines.


Agay Llanera is a Manila-based freelance writer for television and video, and a published writer of children’s books. Her novellas include Vintage Love, Once upon A Player, and the YA book, Choco Chip Hips. Get in touch with her through the following: WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | WATTPAD

6 thoughts on “Ever Afters in “Once Upon a Player” by Agay Llanera

  1. This sounds pretty good! At first the main character turned me off since she always had everything go her way but if she is shown as human with flaws I could definitely relate. The romance seems great too. Nice review 🙂
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    1. I thought so, too! I was thinking that she would just be perfect and bland, but no, she actually had her obvious flaws and she just didn’t notice! And that made her such a dynamic character 🙂

  2. I’m so glad you liked this book so much! It def sounds super cute and fluffy. It sounds like one of those books you can read when you’re having a bad day or something. It seems like the perfect kind of book to get you out of a slump. I love that the MC, even though she is super awesome, she still has her faults and her flaws so that it will make her more human. <3

    Awesome review! <3

  3. Val sounds like a realistic character with how she also has her flaws and isn’t perfect. And i am glad to hear there are some great friendships in this book. The romance sounds well done too. I don’t mind cheesy romances at times, but I also like the not cheesy romances. I think it’s good to see different types of romances in books.
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