Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Wow! This is a great debut novel. Not only heartwarming, it was also full of the richness of pride in a Dominican Republic heritage, and on a lighter note, full of descriptions of Afro-Caribbean foods that made my mouth positively water.
Nesto Vasquez moves his Afro-Caribbean food truck from his original base in New York City to the wilds of upstate New York—Ithaca, home of Cornell University, to be exact. His mom has lived there for the past ten years, along with his aunt and cousins, and his strong family ties and need to prove himself and make his dreams come true are the driving forces behind the relocation. But more than family keeps him there, as he meets, befriends, and eventually falls in love with librarian Jude Fuller. Sweet, intelligent, and alone, Jude was ostracized by his religious family when he came out to them five years before.
There’s so much to like about this story—the writing, the pace, the interesting information on the culture of the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean Islands. Add to that the personal touch, the relationship-building, the strength of family of origin and family of the heart, and finally the love between two young men—a love that very nearly didn’t survive when the drive for success in his career almost caused Nesto to lose track of the need for balance and for the love of his heart, his Jude.
The secondary characters are terrific and include Nesto’s three best friends, each with a Caribbean heritage. They grew up together and their moms banded together to keep them out of trouble and off the streets—a ploy that worked well, and coincidentally helped cement Nesto’s appreciation of a variety of Caribbean cuisine. Jude’s library coworker and bestie, Carmen, also has a DR heritage and is the first to encourage Jude to join her at the food truck, where he meets his eventual love.
But there was also a very nasty, self-centered, homophobic, prejudiced coworker who undermines Nesto behind the scenes throughout much of the story. Misty works part time at the library as a grant writer and spends much of her time throwing monkey wrenches into Jude’s plans for a youth mobile library for his county—something much needed for rural teens. She also spends a great deal of time undermining Nesto’s budding business as she couldn’t bear his success while her son’s food truck was not thriving. She added a lot of angst and drama but, although I normally hate that sort of character, the author did a great job in bringing her to life and keeping her believable.
Though her first book, I’m sure this won’t be Adriana Herrera’s last and I’m definitely looking forward to more from her in future. In fact, we will likely get a story of each of Nesto’s three besties and I can’t wait! I very highly recommend this one to all lovers of MM romance, especially to those who enjoy stories rich in culture that inspire a reader to want to learn more.
The cover features a handsome Latino man who fits the description of the MC in the story. Very appealing, and in fact, I came back to this a number of times due to the man on the cover, until I finally picked it up to review. And I’m very happy I did.
Sales Links: Carina Press | Amazon
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published March 4th 2019 by Carina Press
Original Title American Dreamer
Series Dreamers #1