American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera
LGBTQ+ Contemporary Romance
Nesto Vasquez is risking everything by moving his Afro-Caribbean food truck out of New York City to Ithaca but he’s determined to succeed and will do whatever it takes to make his dreams come true. Meeting librarian Jude Fuller is not in the plans and Nesto can’t afford any distractions, but Jude tempts him to reach for more. There were parts of American Dreamer that I loved and parts that I struggled with and I debated on my rating for a while before finally settling on 4 stars. What I truly enjoyed was the writing and all the representation included as well as the delicious food descriptions.
Adriana Herrera doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to representing the struggles and unfair treatment that people of color experience in this country and I admire her unflinching portrayal. While the bigoted Misty felt a little over the top at times, I imagine she was probably closer to reality then most people realize. As a Caribbean author, it’s clear how much Herrera loves her history and that comes across in the authentic and real personalities of her characters, especially Nesto.
Both Nesto and Jude were enjoyable characters and I loved seeing each one on page. Nesto is vibrant, confident, and sexy and he goes all in with his food truck business. Plus he has such a sweet relationship with his mom and I loved watching them interact with each other. Jude is much more quiet and low key and he keeps to himself with the exception of his best friend, Carmen. Jude has a hard past that has strongly affected how he sees himself and taking a chance on Nesto is a big step for him. Together Nesto and Jude were really great and I loved how sweet and caring they were.
There were also amazing side characters that were so well developed. I felt like I really knew Milo, Patrice, and Juanpa and I’m very intrigued about their stories. Jude’s friend Carmen was also fiery and awesome and I loved her dedication to Jude.
Where I struggled was in the last third of the book. Up to this point, Nesto has been the one pursuing the relationship the hardest as he works to convince Jude to let down some of his walls. Jude begins to open up and give more of himself to help Nesto make his food truck a success, but when Jude needs Nesto the most, Nesto’s not there for him. I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll just say that Jude is going through so much pain and heartbreak and he needs Nesto to act as the rock he’s been up to that point. It’s clear from the beginning that Nesto is a workaholic but there’s still a very unexpected turnaround in his character’s behavior.
I’m also not sure that the events that lead to the problems in Nesto and Jude’s relationship were really needed in the story. The situation was already fraught with painful emotion and it didn’t need anymore added. Nesto’s behavior wasn’t lining up with what we’d seen so far and I’m not sure that Jude really had time to process his pain.
I had a few problems while reading but overall, American Dreamer was a great debut novel and I’ll be curious to see what else Adriana Herrera has to offer in this series.
ARC provided by NetGalley for honest review
4 out of 5 stars
Death of a side character from cancer (on page)
Hero harassed and targeted because of his ethnicity and skin color (on page)
Hero ambushed by religious family member to “save his soul” (on page)
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 orof 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.
Published by Carina Press on March 4, 2019
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