ARC Review by Jude: American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera
No one ever said big dreams come easy
For Nesto Vasquez, moving his Afro-Caribbean food truck from New York City to the wilds of Upstate New York is a huge gamble. If it works? He’ll be a big fish in a little pond. If it doesn’t? He’ll have to give up the hustle and return to the day job he hates. He’s got six months to make it happen—the last thing he needs is a distraction.
Jude Fuller is proud of the life he’s built on the banks of Cayuga Lake. He has a job he loves and good friends. It’s safe. It’s quiet. And it’s damn lonely. Until he tries Ithaca’s most-talked-about new lunch spot and works up the courage to flirt with the handsome owner. Soon he can’t get enough—of Nesto’s food or of Nesto. For the first time in his life, Jude can finally taste the kind of happiness that’s always been just out of reach.
An opportunity too good to pass up could mean a way to stay together and an incredible future for them both…if Nesto can remember happiness isn’t always measured by business success. And if Jude can overcome his past and trust his man will never let him down.
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Release Date: March 4th
There are many, many delicious things about this book. Of course, going in you know that this is gonna be a foodie romance, but more, Herrera gives us complex and loveable characters we root for, whose chemistry is well drawn and super sexy.
Honestly, I don’t even think you have to be a foodie romance person to appreciate the a-ma-zing descriptions of Nesto’s food. Herrera makes the food jump off the page; I honestly mourn for the lack of Afro-Carribean food in my life. I loved this aspect of the story. I loved how important Nesto’s connection to his culture through food was; this resonated deeply with me, because food culture was so important for me growing up. I’ve lost most of the Latinx side of my family and it’s through food that I honestly feel the most connected to my roots. Diving into this with Nesto and Jude was like a kind of coming home.
There are some really well drawn aspects of the book. Nesto’s reticence to allow others to step in and help him in the face of a *challenge* (ahem awful person) that I don’t want to spoil for the reader is so, so very poignant. The desire to fight one’s own battles, particularly when you’re standing on ground as a POC, is really important. Nesto doesn’t want to be saved, and more importantly, Herrera really makes clear what it feels like to occupy a space as a POC that others who aren’t will never understand. Sympathize with, yes. Objectively see happening, yes. But one that fundamentally you cannot understand if you haven’t lived it. We are confronted with this lived reality through Nesto’s experience, which I really want to thank Herrera for.
Jude is, in my opinion, a delightfully frustrating and loveable character. I really appreciated his passion for his work and project. I loved the tensions Herrera creates between his desires and hopes and the fears that hold him back. He’s sassy and sweet and I kinda just wanted to cuddle with him in his presence.
I LOVED the family and friend community of this book. I love the ways in which Herrera draws these real, life long friends as family connections. The ways in which Nesto’s friends in particular occupy special places in his life: people who will help you no matter what, who step up for you, who will give you tough love when you need it, laughter when it’s necessary, and the kind of support that is unquestionably through everything.
That said, there were times when I became a little frustrated with Jude and Nesto’s back and forth relationship. Initially, the tension between them was delicious and created a beautiful chemistry. I was on the edge of a metaphorical seat as they found a way to each other. After a time though, I felt like the continued back and forth became a little frustrating. I’m not sure if this is just because it was drawn through so much of the book, or if because sometimes there were jarring transitions between time gaps. Sometimes I had to go back to re-read a few paragraphs because the book would jump forward in time and I felt like I’d missed some important steps or connections in their story.
Honestly, those aren’t huge problems, more like quibbles. Herrera creates a world so rich in this book that I cannot imagine a reader not waiting with bated breath for the next book. I cared so much for all of these characters, I am thrilled that this is a series. This book, and series, feel so, so important to me as a fantastic, honest, well-drawn and complex representation of Latinx romance written by a Latinx author. I cannot wait to jump back into this world.
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher
Adriana was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last 15 years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.
When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a social worker in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective and serves as the VP of Programs for the Romance Writers of America New York City Chapter.
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Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Carina Press Review Tag: Food Tag: Own-Voices Tag: Part of a series Tag: PoC Adriana Herrera American Dreamer Dreamers series
Jude Sierra View All →
Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007.
Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for Queer Books Unbound. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary queer romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her most recent novel A Tiny Piece of Something Greater was released in May of 2018. Shadows you Left, a co-written novel with Taylor Brooke will arrive spring of 2019 from Entangled Press.
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