Cover Image: American Sweethearts

American Sweethearts

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Member Reviews

I  loved the first two books this series from Adriana Herrera, unfortunately I think I waited too long to read the final book and I’m not in the right mood now. I’m really looking forward to Juan Pablo getting his HEA, so I will try this title again later. DNF for now.
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This was an excellent second chance romance. I hadn't read any other books in the series, but it was enough of a standalone book that I could follow along easily. The tension of "we love each other but sometimes we can't stand each other' is a difficult tight rope, but it worked in this romance. I loved the sex ed classes the female main character taught and I loved that part of the story! Now to go read the rest of the series!
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The communication in this book, especially the sexual communication was on point and so exquisitely done.  This book was so freaking good.  It was nice to see Priscilla learn to let other people in and talk about her feelings.  Juan Pablo was so freaking sexy and sweet and the two together are fire.  I'm slightly disappointed that the b plot didn't get resolved but that's just because I wanted to see Priscilla kick everyone's ass.  I will really miss this group of friends.  This entire series was just so well done and sexy.
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Woo!! This one was a steamy read! I loved Juan Pablo and Priscilla’s story. And they were totally hot together!! And once again Herrera does a great job of immersing the reader in Afro latinx culture. Will definitely go back and read the rest of the series!
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This installment in Adriana Herrera's Dreamer series follows Juan Pablo and Priscilla who have a history of breaking up only to get back together. When a group trip to the Dominican Republic reconnects them, Juan Pablo is determined to show Priscilla he won't make the same mistakes that he did before.

Herrera weaves together sex positivity, community support, and the benefits of therapy in such a fantastic way. It was amazing to have a hero who recognized he needed help to grow and took time to work on himself before returning to win back the woman he loved. And I especially loved the exploration of the way that the dreams we have for ourselves can change and evolve and that it's not a failure to reach for a new dream than the one you had originally planned your life around.

The entire series follows a group of friends, and (as someone who read the books out of order), I'd recommend new readers start with the first to truly get the most of these characters' growth, relationships, and evolution.
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Stevie‘s review of American Sweethearts (Dreamers, Book 4) by Adriana Herrera
Contemporary Bisexual Romance published by Carina Press 30 Mar 20

One of the pitfalls in writing a romance series that focusses on a different couple in each book – particularly when those couples are linked by familial or friendship ties – is how to strike a balance between updating loyal readers on what has happened recently with the already established couples and putting enough focus on the central characters in each new book. This can get ever trickier as the series progresses, such as here in the fourth book of this series, in which all the characters go away together on two separate occasions, with the book’s central couple having to give up centre stage in those scenes in favour of the ensemble as a whole. Fortunately, both the characters in that couple have strong personalities in their own right.


Priscilla (Pris) Gutierrez and Juan Pablo (JuanPa) Campos grew up on the same street, and have been on-off lovers their entire adult lives. The one obstacle to them getting together permanently is the divergence in their career plans. As teenagers, they had both planned to join the NYPD – inspired by JuanPa’s father – after college. However, while Pris signs up just prior to graduation, JuanPa makes the decision to continue his studies and ends up as a sports physiotherapist working for a team he already follows. The sense of betrayal Pris feels drives a wedge between them, even as she takes pride in the progress of her own and JuanPa’s careers. As the book opens, the pair are meeting up for the first time in a while, on the way to their mutual friends’ big, extravagant wedding in the Dominican Republic.

Sparks fly between the two, amid all the partying and other celebrations, partly fuelled by discussions around Pris’ second job – running an online sex toy store and leading sex-positive workshops. JuanPa is very encouraging of Pris’ work and thinks she could make a full-time primary career out of it, but Pris is concerned that quitting the police in order to do so will disappoint her parents, even as she is becoming disillusioned with her current work in child protection. Things come to a head during another group holiday – this time taking place between Christmas and New Year – when JuanPa calls on some members of the group to help Pris move into what he considers to be a more emotionally satisfying career.

Pris, understandably, is not impressed, wanting to make her own decisions without interference from well-meaning but ultimately overly-assertive men. This threatens to make the rift between the two permanent, and they have a lot of work to do if they are to rebuild their friendship, never mind form any sort of lasting romantic relationship. This being a romance novel, obviously everything works out in the end, and I feel that part is handled well. What I feel works less well, are the insights we receive into their respective careers. These seem to be less filled-in than the job details we got for the couples in previous books, with more emphasis being placed on the how relationships from previous books had developed in the intervening months and years.

So, while it was interesting to see an opposite-sex couple feature in a previously same-sex relationship based series, particularly where the man in that couple was bisexual, I’d have liked to have seen a lot more of Pris and JuanPa’s lives. Hopefully, though, this will help set a trend for series that cover a range of relationship types in the different books.

Grade: C
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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2021 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="https://rusaupdate.org/2021/02/2021-reading-list-years-best-in-genre-fiction-for-adult-readers/">
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I liked the book and I loved Priscilla but to be honest, the book didn't pull me in as much as the others did. I think it was a "it's not you, it's me" time and sadly the book just...didn't work out for me at the time of reading.
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Exclusive excerpt shared on Fresh Fiction
A note from Adriana: I love that I get to finish the Dreamers series with a strong Dominican woman at the center of the story. Of all the characters, Priscilla is the one closest to me and the hardest to write. One of the things that I’ve tried to do with these Dreamers is to have nuanced conversations about the realities of immigrant lives, but without extracting the joys of who we are. Women of Color in fiction sometimes get cheated out of softness, and because we have so much to prove. The paths that we take to follow our dreams sometimes are so riddled with obstacles, we are not allowed to be. And then it can be hard to look for our own soft landing. Priscilla fights hard to stay in control. To feel self-sufficient until little by little Juanpa shows her that she can lean on him without losing herself because he’s done the work of becoming strong enough to be that for a woman like her. I love their story, and I’m so proud that it’s with these two that we say farewell to these Dreamers.  

***

Priscilla

The smiles and whoops of joy were already resounding through the plane and we hadn’t even touched down yet. I looked at my mom and dad, who were sitting side by side, clutching hands, excited as they always were to come home. They’d left the DR only weeks after getting married at nineteen and twenty-one. No English, no promised jobs.

Nothing.
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American Sweethearts is the next book in Adriana Herrera's incredible series. What I like about the both the series and American Sweethearts is how organic the characters all feel. They are all flawed individuals that get the chance to grow and learn as they go through life, making a compelling read.
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This was such a phenomenal note to finish the Dreamers series. These books have been sexy, adorable, and unapologetic Latinx. Adriana has shown me time and time again that she can tackle difficult topics, power dynamics and consent while delivering the perfect romantic bits with satisfying happy endings.

What I mean is, I was incredibly excited for Juanpa and Pris’s story, their second chance romance, and yes, the happiness they both deserve. I was not disappointed. Actually, I was surprised by how close I felt Pris’s journey, her relationship with her parents as an immigrant, and the way she puts her dreams aside because she feels like she has to. Her conversation with her mom was one of the most emotional moments of this series and I cried so much with her.

I appreciated so much all the discussions about sex-positive, especially when talking about the Latinx community. And the pegging! I knew but OH MY GOD YES! All of this to say, the chemistry of these two was so good but they still have work to do. American Sweethearts shows that therapy, growing, and open communication is so important for a relationship and we have to stan.

I mean, all the exclamations points. That’s what I mean, you know. I just had the greatest time reading about these two dummies, cried a lot because pure emotions, and damn it was hot! As I said, the perfect way to finish this series, what a blessing.
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JuanPa Campos has been in love with Pris for...ever. They've been lovers before in their teens and twenties, but they were too young and too stubborn to make it work, despite a deep love for one another. Now, JuanPa has settled into a good life as a trainer to the NY Yankees, and he's invested in himself, growing from the playa into a man grown and wanting to love a good woman.

Priscilla Gutierrez joined the NYPD because her immigrant father always wanted to join, but was unable. Twelve years into the job, her satisfaction is low. Being a woman of color and watching the disparities in justice for men of color, like the men she grew up with in their deeply-connected immigrant community in the Bronx, has gotten to be too much for her to take on the daily. She has a side hustle selling personal pleasure products for women of color, and it's become the only good thing in her life--besides JuanPa. JuanPa has been her first love, her only true connection, but he's always been too immature to support her the way she's needed.

But now, he's right there with the help. And the love. And the support. He's everything Pris could want, but her biggest fear is falling so hard for this man, and messing up their friendship and the extended "family" dynamic of their friend groups. But, man is JuanPa turning her head sideways.

This is the last book in a series of POC finding love super hard. It's really a great series with lots of Afro-Latinx influences of Puerto Rican and Dominican folk thriving in NYC. The culture clash of urban youth growing up in immigrant families with immigrant sensibilities is really wonderfully portrayed, in a way that's accessible to readers who have little to not experience with people of color. The empathy I felt toward all of these characters helped me see the struggle of their situation, in life and in art. The previous three stories feature M/M relationships, so this book was a big departure, but one I really enjoyed. I probably don't recommend starting with this story, only because there are so many character interactions at the beginning that tie up previous stories. I really loved the resolutions of those love stories, and it was a delight to see those folks help Pris and JuanPa get past their fears and embrace the love. Read the series in order, y'all!
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American Sweethearts hits on a lot of important topics. In fact, I can sit here and list several, but the point would be the same. The subject matter is prevalent and each of those topics deserves its fair share of page time. The problem is there is so much that the story lacks a definitive focus, especially where the romance is concerned. Since I picked this one up based on it being a romance, I would've liked a bit more focus on that part of the story, but again, it feels like the love story between these childhood friends gets lost in the too busy story. In the end, the book wasn't bad, but I had a hard time getting into it with so much going on.
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You know those characters in a romance where you're like "God, get some therapy before you attempt to rekindle a romance?" Those were Juanpa and Priscilla prior to this novel. Juanpa's gotten his shit together, and Priscilla is still figuring herself out. A second-chance to rekindle their turbulent relationship arises while at a destination wedding, and hot flirting, dancing, and romance ensues. Of course, each character has their own issues with the other that they're attempting to talk through as a way to make way for a new kind of relationship that doesn't rely on loathing or resenting the other. There's so much positivity towards mental health issues as well as sex positivity, as Prisicilla forges ahead with her dream to become a sex positivity activist and Juanpa utilizes the lessons he's learned in therapy to express his love for Priscilla. 
American Sweethearts was the best conclusion to this series, and Adriana Herrera once again compounds on the lesson that Latinx, aprticularly Afro-Latinx, deserve joy and happiness to be represented on the page. What a privilege to witness this manifestation of love.
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I loved this book. The characters are fully fleshed out humans. I enjoyed that they communicated and that Herrera took the time to have Juan Pablo explain not only that he went to therapy but why he went to therapy and what he got/is getting through. I loved Juan Pablo more than most romance heroes. The sex is also so well written. I did want Pris to quit her job the entire book, but the tension of would she or wouldn't she and her depression and anxiety about the job was so well done. Still the sex activism was amazing.
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The anticipation for this book had me itching to read this immediately when I got it, so I'm not sure why it took me so long to review it. 

JuanPa and Pris did not disappoint me. This was a second chance romance where I could really feel the connection between both characters, and it made for a very enjoyable read. I was rooting for them from page one. As the tension between them builds, it was easy to see how much they had both grown and changed since the last time they'd dated and been together. Even with added pressure from their families and friends, the pressure Pris had at work and  everything JuanPa had to do to show support, it was all awesome. Add in all the appearances of everyone from prior books... just made it better.

These two are hot together. Chemistry for days and days. I loved it.
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Adriana Herrera can do no wrong. I love this series and will be featuring in a guest post on Latinx authors that you should pick up.
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*~~*ARC kindly provided from the publisher/author to me for an honest review *~~*

Full review to come

5 stars
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Adriana Herrera's American Sweethearts is a riveting second chance romance. The fourth book in the Dreamers series, it is easily read as a standalone. 

This is a passionate story of two people, Juan Pablo and Priscilla, who have a long history together. Sometimes timing is everything. Sometimes one needs to do what's best for their personal growth. This is their story as they learn that eventually they need to fight for one another.

The writing is riveting with interesting characters. The author keeps the reader intrigued throughout this story of miscommunication, patience, encouragement, and personal growth. As well, the author excels in weaving together a story that explores family, culture, community, and diversity. It is slow at times but the connection between the characters will keep you reading. 

I love the full cast of characters, who add immensely to this storyline. 

Ultimately, this is a wonderful story of two childhood sweethearts who struggle to make their relationship work. Their connection is well worth the struggle.

American Sweethearts is a hot and sexy story. This Adriana Herrera read is a beautiful tribute to their parents' struggles to provide the American dream.
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American Sweethearts by Adriana Herrera is A LOT, but in a good way. The fourth book in the Dreamers series, it focuses on Juan Pablo and Priscilla, childhood friends turned on and off again lovers turned...well....that’s what they have to figure out.

Ever since their paths diverged--Pris went to the police academy while Juan Pablo opted for grad school--their relationship was permanently altered. Their current (perpetual?) relationship status? It’s complicated. 

They are reunited at a friend’s destination wedding, and they are forced to take an honest look at their own issues and problems and how they’ve affected their relationship in the past. Their chemistry? Off the charts. But can they have a healthy, real relationship?  

There will be reviews out there by own-voices reviewers that are more important than my own (white, straight) take on this steamy, Afro-Latinx romance, but I was majorly impressed by Herrera’s deft handling of incredibly difficult issues revolving around race, social justice, and the immigrant experience, as well as mental health struggles as a person of color. The diverse cast of characters provides amazing racial and LGBTQ+ representation that is often lacking in the romance genre. 

This book, and its characters, are definitely sex-positive. That made me super happy. (Sex positivity workshops are actually Pris’s side hustle!) However--because I want to review this honestly--I’ve rarely had a book get “too steamy” for me, but this one is definitely probably the steamiest I’ve ever read. (I may have skimmed a little bit here and there!) I am so happy JuanPa and Pris got their HEA, but some of the scenes pushed the limits of my comfort zone. If super steamy is your thing, you will definitely find that here!!

Seriously. If you want to hear more about this one, listen to what readers of color are saying. Herrera definitely delivered an amazing love story (that’s so much more than a love story)!

I received an advance review copy from NetGalley and Carina Press in exchange for my honest review.
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