by Priscilla Oliveras
Series: Matched to Perfection #3
Also in this series: Her Perfect Affair
Publisher: Zebra Shout
Publication Date: November 27, 2018
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
With talent, heart, and ambition to spare, the Fernandez sisters have each followed their own unique path, even when it leads to surprising destinations--in life and love . . .
Growing up, Lilí María Fernandez was affectionately known as the family "wild child." The life of the party, she loved to dance, especially salsa, merengue, and bachata, and often sang beside her father during rehearsals for his trío group. But tragedy and loss have drawn out Lilí's caretaking side, compelling her to become a victim's advocate. These days, the special rhythms of the past seem like a distant memory. Until she meets Diego Reyes . . .
A police officer with the Chicago PD, Diego also has a talent for playing classical Spanish guitar. And Lilí soon finds herself inspired by his passion--for the music, for her, and for their shared love of familia and community. Can Diego reignite Lilí's fun-loving spirit, persuade her to balance work and pleasure--and embrace her wild side once more?
I’ve very much enjoyed reading about Ms. Oliveras’ Fernandez sisters. There is such an amazing feeling of family, of warmth and support, and I adore the glimpses of Puerto Rican culture. While much of the subject matter (drug abuse and intimate partner violence) is heavy, Ms. Oliveras manages to balance it with Lilí’s optimism and the Fernandez family warmth. I think it would be possible to read this as a standalone, as while the characters from the rest of the series make frequent cameos, enough of the series background is explained.
Lilí and Diego meet when she receives a call from one of her domestic violence clients, only to find the police, in the form of Diego and his partner, guarding her apartment (frequent readers of the series will realize this picks up where Julia’s novella left us). Though she’s frustrated with his refusal to let her through, they both feel a spark of attraction towards the other person, and both admire the others’, well, stubbornness. When Lilí makes the questionable choice to take her client home with her for the night, against Diego’s protestations, he insists on giving her his phone number. That spark is still there when she reaches back out to him for help, and especially when they run into each other while volunteering at the youth center, where Lilí teaches girls self defense and Diego teaches guitar. But Lilí’s dated a cop before, and she fears that Diego will also be unable to accept her and her commitment to her job. Is it just the same old song and dance, or the start of a brand new melody?
“Sees the good in everyone, doesn’t she?” Ryan shook his head slowly from side to side.
Well, she didn’t seem to have trouble finding fault in him, Diego noted. He kept that thought to himself.
I liked Lilí a lot. In the other books, she came off as the clown of the family, and while some of that is still there, a lot of has been lost under the grief from her parents’ death. She is still feisty, smart, and dedicated to her family, however. She also sees the good in everyone, which Diego thinks blinds her to a lot of the dangers that come with her job, but I thought was exactly what her clients and the kids she worked with needed. I struggled with Diego. He’s the picture of machismo, and basically every alpha trait that I can’t stand. He dismisses Lilí’s expertise and refuses to let her in, out of fear of bogging her down in his family drama. He was downright aggressive with some of Lilí’s clients, and completely unable to empathize with what they’re going through. While past family trauma explained a lot of his behavior, I didn’t like that a cop – who would be expected to deal sympathetically with victims – would react that way. Lilí herself is frustrated with his black and white thinking, and that he discounts her experience and training working with DV victims, even when it’s his own sister. I didn’t leave the book with the feeling that he’d actually changed or come to understand why his approach was so harmful.
“They shared a soft smile, the unbreakable bonds of music tying them together. First years ago with their respective parents. Now with each other.”
Besides that, though, there were so many things I liked. Lilí and Diego both share a love of music, especially classical guitar. Diego’s mom loved the band Lilí’s dad played in, and the song she used to insist he play for her was Lilí’s parents’ favorite song. Music is a big deal to her family, and it’s been a thread throughout the series. The Fernandez sisters – and cousin – are such a warm family, and I loved seeing how they drew support from each other, even if they didn’t necessarily agree with the others’ actions. Though Lilí laments that they treat her like a child, to me it came off more as concern. It was good getting to catch up with each of the couples and their new families.
I think, overall, this would be more a 3.5 for me. It has all the warmth, the familia that I’ve come to love from Ms. Oliveras, but I had issues with Diego. So, overall, I’m sad to say goodbye to the Fernandez sisters, but I’m very eager for whatever Ms. Oliveras writes next!