Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
At 10 years old Joel was uprooted from his home and everything he knew in Portugal to start a new life in the States. At 26 he finds himself returning for the first time in thirteen years. So what if looking into the eyes of his childhood best friend again still makes his heart race out of his chest?
Living in sunny, laid-back Portugal isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For David, dreams of being a pastry chef come second to working in his family’s café where his renowned custard tarts draw in the crowds. Seeing Joel brings old feelings back. Feelings he’s not sure he’s brave enough to acknowledge to anyone other than himself.
With the inspiration of an old travel journal, the two friends embark on a real journey through memories in a country where looking back into the past runs as deep as the blood that courses through their veins.
Falling in love was never meant to be a stop along the way, but maybe inevitable when you have the adventurous spirit and courage to pursue what you want, make love under the stars and even figure out how to jumpstart an old Citroen 2CV in the middle of the Alentejo countryside.
I really enjoyed Made in Portugal (Made In #1) by Ana Newfolk. The author managed to bring the country of Portugal alive for me as a reader on so many levels while never losing sight of her oh so connectable romance between two best friends given a second chance at everything they ever hoped for. The first in a series apparently, Made In Portugal takes us into the the dynamics and intertwined relationships of two families that has stretched over the decades. It started in a village in Portugal where Joel was born to a Portuguese mother and an American father, a place where he left broken hearted at age 10 because his parents had to move to the US, and is now finally returning at age 26 to lay their ashes to rest.
It is also the story of David, that best of friends he left behind, the one he shared his first kiss with, The one whose mother was best friends with his mother and whose family has always been tied up with his. All of these families, all of these people await Joel and the reader when his plane lands. And it actually begins at the rental car station.
The author starts to create an immediate sense of the familiar and homecoming for Joel and the reader when things go wrong with his rental car. I won’t spoil it but Newfolk’s ability to have secondary believable characters have meaningful interactions that leave you with warm happy thoughts of what will lie ahead? Oh yes! Then you know you are in good hands indeed.
This story is also about family, coming home, coming out, rediscovering love, taking journeys, and finding out exactly where your home lies….yes, all that. And the author does a spectacular job. The writing is smooth, the dialog realistic with Portuguese linguistic touches that makes you feel as though you are in the country, and the relationship dynamics work as well. Its poignant, conflicted, and all family.
I felt I knew these men at the end. And their mothers. And truly all the rest of their family. It takes everyone and a ancient Citroen called Ladybug to finally let Joel and David see their way to their HEA and their home. But that journey they take? It’s one you shouldn’t miss. It made me want to take a flight to a place I haven’t been in years to soak up the sun, the love and laughter, the warmth and family that’s exuded from the pages of this story. I know I can just find it if only I can rent a Citroen named Ladybug.
Yes, I do highly recommend this story. Grab it up now.
Cover art by Jay Aheer: I like this cover, except only one of the models matches the characters. Joel is blond unlike David. But the colors and composition is lovely and bright.
Made In Portugal is a 74000 word gay romance novel with a happy ever after ending.
It is the first in a series but can be read as a standalone.
Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 231 pages
Published June 1st 2018
Original TitleMade in Portugal
SeriesMade In #1