by Adriana Herrera
Series: Dreamers #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: March 4, 2019
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
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.
OK, first off – if you love food romances, this is completely the book for you. It’s ownvoices for Dominican rep, and the amount of delicious Caribbean food is incredible. But, besides the food, this is a lovely romance with the perfect amount of angst!
“Dude, can you be at least a little sympathetic? This is a big fucking deal for me. I’m moving out of New York City, my home since I was six years old, to try and get a food truck business going upstate.”
I reached over for another container and huffed in exasperation. “If I had a beard and a man bun I’d be a cancelled show on Food Network.”
Nesto’s passion for the Afro-Caribbean flavors of his food truck, OuNYe, may be boundless, but his dream is running out. Faced with stiff competition in New York City, he agrees to give himself six months in Ithaca, at his mother’s urging, before giving up his dream. Even in the upstate college town, though, he knows he’ll need to work hard to make his dream a reality, and the last thing he has time for is any distractions – even if it’s a cute librarian who drops cheesy pickup lines in Spanish. Jude has his own dreams – a bookmobile to reach youth in rural areas – and, still smarting from previous rejections, romantic and otherwise, doesn’t want to risk heartbreak again. But when they keep running into each other around town, maybe they could just be friends? (HAHA, no, you know where this goes!) The pressures against OuNYe are more than just financial, however, and will the success that would keep him in Ithaca with Jude also be what drives them apart?
“There it is. I’m going to make it my mission to keep you smiling, neighbor.”
“I thought your mission was getting your business to be a success.”
He looked serious for a moment, then whispered, “I told you, I adapt.”
I loved both main characters, though for different reasons. Nesto is incredibly driven, often to the detriment of his relationships with others, including Jude. A lot of his hesitancy towards their relationship is that he thinks Jude will be a distraction towards him realizing his dreams. Jude, due to his experience being basically shunned after coming out to his extremely conservatively religious family and then being dumped by the guy he came out to them for, doesn’t believe he’s enough for anyone to want to stick around for. When he realizes his attraction to Nesto, he does his best to put the breaks on the possible relationship immediately, scared of having his heart broken again. Irregardless of how either man feels about a relationship, they can’t resist the need to see each other again, and they’re by turns sweet, sarcastic, and downright salty with each other. I loved the growth of their relationship, how hard they fought it and tried to convince themselves there was no relationship, even if their actions said otherwise. When one of them screws up, though, they screw up hard, but it’s followed by the absolute perfect example of groveling.
“En serio, m’ijo, don’t get so focused on the truck you forget to live your life. You can have some balance.” She bumped my shoulder as I tried to grab something from the shelf behind her.
“You forget sometimes, papí. You’re such a good man, so serious and hardworking, but you also need some love. Someone to carry the burdens with you. Don’t be like me, sweetheart.”
I also loved the secondary characters! Nesto’s mom is so amazingly supportive, and she and Nesto’s friends from NYC really made the book for me. So often it feels like the MC’s best friends are just in there as sequel bait, but they were an important part of the story. Jude’s extremely conservative religious family was a huge contrast, both in terms of support and as well-fleshed out characters. There just wasn’t much to them other than their bigotry. Misty, the white lady who’s sole purpose in life seemed to be being racist, was also a bit of a caricature but more believable. She’s the main villain of the story, and the different ways Nesto and Jude handled her were an insightful view into the differences between how white people and people of color handle people abusing their power. As for cons, my main issue was with the pacing. While the beginning and ending chugged along well, the middle felt uneven, with a few weeks skipped with seemingly no change to their relationship.
Overall, I loved this book, and I’m very much looking forward to American Dreamer, the second book in the series, which will feature one of Nesto’s friends. Highly recommended!