books

Adriana Herrera

Books

Dreamers: American Dreamer (2019), American Fairytale (2019), American Love Story (2019)

He’s Come Undone: A Romance Anthology (2020)


Dreamers


American Dreamer (2019)

Nesto Vasquez is chasing his dream. He’s moving his food truck from NYC up to Ithaca (where is mother and sister live) to see if he can make a go of it there. All he wants is to focus on making a success of his business; he didn’t expect the distraction of a cute librarian.

Jude Fuller has worked hard to improve the youth reading program at his library, but now he is pushing hard to get his dream of a book truck turned into a reality.

Unfortunately, part-time grant writer and full-time misery Misty is doing her best to sabotage Jude–and anyone else she doesn’t like.

Jude is adorable, but his friend Carmen is even more adorable.

“Oh my god, Jude Eugenio Maria Fuller! What did you say to him before you walked off? He was blushing and fanning himself!”

I laughed as Carmen and I hurried to the library with our lunch in hand. “Stop giving me random names in Spanish, Carmen! It’s weird!”

Carmen and Nesto’s mom might possibly have been my favorite characters in this book, with Jesse up there, just because he’s doing his best caught in an extremely difficult place.

But I did love that Nesto had such a strong support network, and friends that would do anything for him. Support systems are important, and they are also often ignored. We need our support systems to make it through our lives without losing our minds.

Want to note something:

Nesto was loud. He didn’t walk into the room I was in to tell me something. He would just holler from wherever he was, calling out what he wanted to say. He could have an entire conversation like that.

In MY world that is completely and totally normal. Why bothers to walk back in forth when you can just speak louder?

I heard a review where they had issues with the character of Misty. I actually (sadly) felt like Misty was the type of person I’ve dealt with on multiple occasions, so she didn’t feel flat or one-note to me. I did, however, feel like the end of the book was rushed. Just was truly and justifiably hurt, but we didn’t actually see Nesto screwing up before that incident. It felt out of character for him to have acted as he did, which made it feel more like a one-time issue rather than a repeated problem. There was the issue at the fair, but that felt like something else entirely, and it made the whole “misunderstanding” feel a bit off.

That said, I did enjoy the story.

Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 7/10

American Fairytale (2019)

American FairytaleThe second book in the American Dreamers series. Camilo Santiago Briggs learned to rely only upon his family–which includes his three best friends. So when he stumbles into a Fairy Tale romance, he doesn’t know how to act or what to do.

Thomas Hughes is Dominician and American, but he grew up in the DR–even if he looks and sounds like your average white guy. He and his two best friends built a company and then sold it for a billion dollars. Now he’s retired and looking to do good with his money.

Milo’s mother is the most important person in his world–after being widowed when Milo was a young child, she came to NY to make a life for them. But it has cost her, and Milo is protective of her.

My mother struggled with depression. It was tough but manageable most of the time. But every once in a while she’d hit a rough patch and get leveled by it.

So, this story starts with a hook-up, which never works for me, but that’s a me issue.

It’s pretty much love at first sight between Milo and Tom, but there ends up being a big blow up towards the end of the book, and I ended up being a little bothered by it, because Milo was close to hurting himself, trying to fix everything without letting Tom help. I get why, with his mother’s history, being independent was so important to him, but it’s also important to recognize that we can’t do everything on our own, and IMO Milo was just as much in the wrong as Tom, for his refusal to accept any help. Especially considering the reason he was struggling. That felt far more like pride than straight stubbornness.

So, although I really liked both characters, I felt like Milo was just as wrong as Tom, so it didn’t see quite right for Tom to be the only one groveling.

Because recognizing when you need help, and asking for that help is important.

Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 6/10

American Love Story (2019)

American Love StoryThis story is about three things: Patrice and Easton, boinking, and this sentence.

A black man had to always think about the space he was in.

Two of the three things about this book I really really liked. The third, as is well known, is not my thing.

There was a lot of boinking in this story.

A LOT of boinking.

Which made it difficult for me to really enjoy this story, since their relationship started with boinking, and was seemingly half boinking.

LET ME BE CLEAR. I’m not opposed to boinking or people writing about boinking. It’s just that for me the boinking is something I tend to zip through to get back to the story, so if there is a lot of boinking there is less of the stuff I am interested in.

So how does that affect how I felt about this story? It means I saw that the two had a strong physical attraction (obvs) but the emotional component felt lacking, because there seemed to be so little time for it, as the two dealt with their own issues and problems (which affected their relationship).

In other words, it felt like Patrice spent more time talking to his friends and his mother about Easton than he did talking to–and more importantly listening to–Easton. I understood the problems they had, and it was quite clear that the majority of those problems could be laid on Patrice. Enough so that I felt as if Easton gave in way to quickly in the end, considering how much misery Patrice had put him through.

Additionally, there were a lot of other things going on in this story, especially the issue of young men of color repeatedly being pulled over and harassed by the police. The story spent a LOT of time on that subject (as it should have because it’s a big and important subject that deserves to have time spent on it) and that is partially what made the emotional parts of the book feel so rushed. There was so much time spent on the police harassment, Easton’s job, Patrice’s job, and the boinking, there just wasn’t enough space left over for me to really believe Patrice’s emotional growth and change.

(T)he controversy he was talking about was my research focusing on how people of color experienced discrimination through government sanctioned public policy.

“The DA’s office and local law enforcement should be on the same page. They bring us the cases to prosecute, and if we can’t trust their judgement, it’s going to be a problem.”

I kept my answers short with my father. With him anything you said, could be (and usually was) used against you.

And there was also a story arc of two of Nesto’s employees, which was important and ALSO needed time spent on it.

That’s a LOT of material for 368 pages, and something had to give, and unfortunately for me, it was the emotional component of the story.

Does that mean this was a bad story? Very much no. But it did feel like the book was entirely too short for the sheer volume of stuff everyone had to deal with, and important things got rushed.

But it’s still a story well-worth reading. I just wish it could have been a little more.

Publisher: Carina Press
Rating: 7/10


Anthologies


He’s Come Undone: A Romance Anthology (2020)
Emma Barry, Olivia Dade, Adriana Herrera, Ruby Lang, and Cat Sebastian

Hes Come Undone A Romance AnthologyAppassionata by Emma Barry
Unraveled by Olivia Dade
Caught Looking by Adriana Herrera
Yes, And… by Ruby Lang
Tommy Cabot Was Here by Cat Sebastian

This is five romance novellas by five authors, three M/F and two M/M.

Appassionata by Emma Barry. Brennan Connelly is a professional piano technician–one of the best in his field. The pianist, Kristy Kwong, is someone he’s had a crush on since they were teenagers. But Kristy is a fallen star trying to make a comeback, who does her best to put absolutely everyone off.

It’s probably weird, but my favorite part of this story was all the technical musical and piano stuff.

There’s no formal schooling to be a technician. I took a course from the guild and became Phil’s assistant. He was good about making sure I was exposed to different styles, different approaches. He was the one who arranged for my internship with the concert tech at Tanglewood.”

I also enjoyed Kristy’s arc trying to deal with her stage fright.

Unraveled by Olivia Dade. Simon Burnham, high school math teacher, has been assigned to mentor Poppy Wick, the art teacher who has just moved into town.

Simon is an uptight prig but he is also able to recognize when he has made a mistake, and apologize.

A girl at the table next to him twitched suddenly. As her hand shot into the air, her face alight, she began to grin. Revelation. Watching it dawn on a student’s face was a privilege, one he didn’t take for granted. He’d been chasing that particular expression for over twenty years, day by day.

I very much enjoyed both the mysteries, and the passion both had for teaching.

I really liked Simon a lot.

The rules of gentlemanly behavior were clear under the circumstances, and he followed them. After she’d packed her belongings in her tote, he offered to carry it for her. As she locked her classroom door behind them, he scanned the dim hallway to ensure her safety. Once they reached her car, he made certain she left the lot before driving away himself.

Caught Looking by Adriana Herrera. Yariel and Hatuey have been best friends since they were teenagers–and Yariel has been in love with Hatuey for almost that entire time.

This was fine. It kept me reading, but nothing especially stood out.

Yes, And… by Ruby Lang. Darren Zhang is a doctor who needs to learn to relax. So he signs up for the meditation class as assigned–except he accidentally ends up in Joan Lacy’s improv class.

He’d entered the information a week ago, but there must have been a last-minute switch. He had to leave. But he’d already been in here for fifteen minutes, and exiting was going to be disruptive. The combination of wanting to be a good student even if he wasn’t taking this course was at war with the desire to bolt and find the meditation room, where he’d already missed roll call and was thus probably labeled undependable.

That paragraph sums up Darren perfectly. But I appreciated that Joan was also struggling, trying to deal with her mother’s health issues and figuring out what she was actually doing with her life.

Tommy Cabot Was Here by Cat Sebastian. Set in Massachusetts in 1959.

Everett Sloane loved Tommy Cabot, but when Tommy got married Everett all but ran away across the ocean to try and mend his heart. Now he’s back and shocked that Tommy’s son is a student at his school–and he that he has once more to try and deal with his feelings for Tommy.

This was probably my favorite story in the anthology. Everett has good reasons to stay away from Tommy. But Tommy’s life is very different now from what he or Everett could have expected, and it’s changing him–mostly in very good ways.

Rating: 8/10