Spring. What a concept after the winter we experienced, although I remember winters that were worse up here, like in 1962. That winter, air temperatures reached -32–in March. As for the snowfall, there were snowdrifts that reached the point where my then six-year-old brother couldn’t be seen walking home from school. In those days, schools didn’t close unless the public buses couldn’t run, and then the city shut down. Fortunately, Easter Sunday arrived late that year (April 22), so we could dress up in our Sunday best without boots and heavy winter coats. And we survived, appreciating the summer that much more.
It is always a treat for me to read other authors of romance when I take breaks from writing my own. It gives me a hearty appreciation for their work, and provides me with a stronger sense of my own particular flavor. It’s been a joy to write my two M/M romance works-in-progress, especially because they are part of my ongoing Christopher Family Novel series, its foundation being family man and business mogul, Allan Beckley Christopher. Oh yes–when writing my love scenes, nothing sets the mood better than Barry White and Love Unlimited. Let’s hear it for Old School!
That being said, I bring to you, for your reading pleasure, American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera. Ernesto (Nesto) Vasquez is a 27-year-old, Dominican man from the Bronx. Setting out from metro New York, Nesto moves upstate to Ithaca to make a go of his food truck business, which serves the Afro-Caribbean food of the islands. He is greeted by his mami, Nurys Maldonado, and sister Minerva with open arms. Having driven off his last boyfriend with his workaholic ways, Mami wants her son to find a balance between business and personal life.
No sooner does he drive into town when his path crosses with that of white, 30-year-old librarian Jude Fuller, who initially thinks Nesto is a little bit cray-cray. Jude is afraid to want something too much, having escaped the clutches of a conservative family who sees his being gay as something to be cured of. His BFF, Carmen, has been pushing him to come out of his shell and be more sociable; sometimes she has to shove him out. Subsequently, Nesto and Jude find themselves bumping into each other on several occasions around town–and Jude finds it harder and harder to resist Nesto’s charm.
As the story unfolds, Nesto and Jude have respective issues with a villainess you love to hate. Misty Fields is an entitled witch-with-a-capital-B bent on driving them out of town after she’s made their lives miserable, for the sport of it. In Jude’s case, she seeks to block funding for his project of mobile libraries in the county. With Nesto, she’s determined to put him out of business, out of prejudice and jealousy. And she isn’t above using her social and political connections to do it.
Getting the couple to lower their walls, especially Jude, takes some doing, as does the transition from neighbors to friends to lovers. Sick relatives, missed business opportunities and interfering friends and family abound in this love story. Will Nesto overcome his tunnel vision and make Jude a priority over business, in word and deed? Will Jude stand up for himself, and recognize that he has someone who will fight for him?
Yes, Nesto and Jude get by with a little help from friends like Carmen, Juanpa, Milo, Patrice and Easton. And lots of help from relatives like Mami and Minerva. Jude’s family dynamics make for sad commentary, but with his brother-in-law Jesse and his nephews, there is hope.
Whenever I purchased a book from one of my favorite authors, E. Lynn Harris, I couldn’t put it down–I read it in one sitting. This is one of those books. This tapestry of a multicultural love story, with its nuances of what it means to be a Dreamer, pulled at my heartstrings. The fact that Jude had spent time in a culture different from his own was refreshing. There were times where I had to set the book down for a moment, because my stomach growled at the siren call of vivid food descriptions. Unfortunately, there are no outlets in this part of the country where I can satisfy my taste for those dishes.
Thank you, Adriana, for representing another voice of color in M/M romance, and the heart that goes with it. Nesto, his family and friends provided the kind of ingredients that literally made this story come alive. I’ll be looking forward to your next book. In the meantime, readers, American Dreamer is waiting for you at your local Amazon/Barnes and Noble library. Try to keep your mouth from watering–if you can.