Cover Image: Just for the Holidays...

Just for the Holidays...

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Adriana Herrera’s Sambrano Studios series – about a family-run movie business – adds a charming chapter with Just for the Holidays, a Christmas-themed romance with a lot of wonderful tension and romantic warmth.

Perla Sambrano is a casting director trying to coax her ex into taking a part in a new telenova produced by her family’s production company.  Gael Monetz desperately wants to break out of the stereotypical parts that constantly have him playing tooth-grinding Latino stereotypes. They’d be the perfect solution to each other’s problems, were they not hopelessly attracted to one another in spite of their very messy break-up while Perla was in college (she was Gael’s sister’s roommate at Yale and they’re still friends; this is all detailed in book one of the series One Week to Claim it All) six years before. She’s not going to put herself through that kind of heartbreak again, thank you.

Gael is utterly afraid to get closer to Perla. His family has a horrible track record when it comes to romance, and he’s not going to subject her to that, especially after their previous romantic disaster.  She wants to keep things professional between them because dating one of her stars wouldn’t be a good look for the family business.  But their plans to begin shooting are stymied by a blizzard; they end up snowed in together with his family, pretend-dating to please his mom, who catches them rehearsing a kissing scene and continues her disapproval of their relationship, and sharing the (GASP!) only bed left in the house.  Will their relationship stay platonic or dip back into romance?

This book is a little more tropey than you may be used to from Herrera, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  Sweet, tender and passionate – the author lends all of her strengths to the material and creates a lovable romance from it.

I liked Perla a bit more than Gael, if only because his reasons for avoiding falling back into love with Perla are so predictable (His father cheated on his mother, left the family when Gael was ten and then died, oh no, he can’t put Perla through something like that!).  And yeah, it’s disappointing that Perla waited six years for Gael when he did um, not.  At all.  But those are the worst parts of a very Christmasy romance.  It works beautifully and keeps the reader on their toes throughout.

Herrera knows how to write about attraction, and boy, do Perla and Gael have it in spades.  As always, she makes you feel for her characters, sometime in spite of their outrageousness.  She also manages to make you love them in spite of their flaws.  I will say that I did wish Perla’s stepmother had a little bit more nuance to her, but the rest of the Montez and Sambranos we meet are interesting and fully three-dimensional.

Just for the Holidays is a wonderful quick bite of a romance, and if you like Herrera or forced proximity romance, this will be your cup of tea.

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This is a good book. The two main characters are Gael and Perla. They went to the same college. She was his sister’s roommate. They started dating. Gael wanted to be an actor. So he got offered an acting job so he broke up with Perla. Six years later Perla is helping her sister with a production company. They are starting to hire actors for a movie. They wanted Gael to star in the movie. Perla goes out to the Hampton to see Gael about the job. He says he will do it. They get snowed in for couple of days. They have some issues to work out but together they find love.
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Really loved to see several aspect of Latinx Christmas traditions although it wasn't super Christmas-y which could be a positive or negative depending on what you're looking for. 

I really like their relationship and interactions but I didn't love the conflict trope of leaving someone for their own good/ for their success. Based on that, I felt like Gael needed to do more groveling. 

I liked the insert of the villain and thought that was really interesting so I wanted to see a little more of that. The end was a little rushed. 

Overall really enjoyed see Latinx love - it can be hard to find in books but I can always rely on Herrera for this. This would be great for someone who is looking for a sweet, second chance romance that just happens to happen during the holidays.
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Perla Sambrano is a casting director and she knows who would be a perfect male lead for the new film. The only problem, he is her ex-boyfriend. 

She is determined to get past herself and visits him to present the offer, and ends up in his arm, with his whole family to see. He asks her to pretend that they are back together. With real feelings still there, it's not long until fake become reality. 

Gael believes that the men of his family hurt women. He was convinced that he would only hurt Perla if he stayed with her, but seeing her brings all those feelings back. 

When they are stranded together for the holidays, it doesn't take much to fall back to where they left off. However, someone is still meddling in their lives.

It's such a romantic story, I read it in one sitting and loved every page!
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Thank you to Harlequin for allowing me to feature an excerpt from this title as part of the Blog Tour campaign. 
All opinions and mistakes are my own.
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This is a  second chance romance between an actor and casting director, snowed in together for the holidays. This is truly one of my favorite tropes! This series through Harlequin continues to be amazing, and something that people shouldn't be passing over. 
Gael broke Perla's heart back in college, but now he's a big movie star and she's trying to cast him for a passion project. When she brings the script to his family home, they end up snowed in for the holidays- the perfect opportunity to rekindle their passion. They had amazing on page chemistry, I was rooting for them, and he didn't fall into that asshole famous guy trope, and I loved it all the more for that!  I want to reread this already!
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“Just for the Holidays” is the second book in the Sambrano Studios series. We met Perla Sambrano in book 1. She’s now the casting director of the studios and has grown closer to her half-sister, Esmeralda, the president. Perla knows that actor Gael Montez would be perfect for the studios next film. The only issue is he broke her heart six years ago. Can she put her feelings to the side and focus on business?

Gael is tired of being cast in any movie that needed a “hot ethnic guy”, with no cultural significance. He is in need of a passion project. The newest film that Sambrano studios is pitching would be perfect. He agrees to meet with Perla to discuss the details. 

Due to circumstances beyond their control, Perla and Gael were placed in a situation where they had to spend one on one time together. It was awkward and they were uncomfortable, but it also caused them to reminisce about their past. Gael realizes he made a mistake six years ago when he put his career first. Seeing her felt like “an electric current through his veins”. Perla thought he was beautiful, then and now. Gael’s family also gave Perla a sense of belonging that she didn’t get from her own. I enjoyed this second chance love story. This was a good continuation of the series, and I recommend it.
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After getting to read the first book in this series, I knew I wanted to pick up the next book. I really enjoy Herrera's writing style as it gives a great flow and pace and makes these short, enjoyable reads. This book does have a good number of cliches and tropes, but the core of the story is a second chance romance, which I felt was done well. The setting definitely made the story cozy and sweet and I really enjoyed how the characters interacted and how their relationship progressed. I will definitely be continuing this series as well as more of Herrera's books.
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Now that Perla Sambrano has found the perfect actor for her production, she finds she must resist the mutual feelings of attraction each of them have. She knows that getting involved with one of her stars would really look back. Meanwhile, Gael Montez comes from a background of broken relationships and feels that even though he really likes Perla, nothing can come of it. 

There is a catch. Perla and Gael knew each other in college and he broke her heart. There is no way that Perla is going to allow feelings to Gael to rise again. Instead, she wants to focus on her film project. 

The film is forced to go on hold due to the weather. What is worse is that they get snowed in due to a blizzard. What are two people to do that find themselves trapped? Especially considering how much they really like each other. 

What a wonderful and enjoyable love story. Not only do we see a strong woman with a fabulous work ethic, we see love pushing its way through for a couple who are perfect for one another.

Many thanks to Harlequin Desire and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
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We love a steamy Christmas/Holiday book and this was a chef's kiss!

Hot Takes
- This was such a great will they/won't they situation! There were so many family interruptions every time things we're heating up and I laughed at the main character's frustration every time!
- There was such great sexual tension! Probably because of all the interruptions lololol
- I love a deep family story imbedded in a romance and this was perfection!
- There was the perfect amount of Nochebuena/Christmas that it wasn't overwhelming. 
- We love forced proximity!

Read If You Like
- Second chance romance 
- Anchored Hearts for a meddling family!
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The most interesting thing about Gael and Perla’s love story is that, although the sexual chemistry is impossible to deny, it’s the love between them that takes control of the plot. Likewise, and although it seems contradictory, the structure of their relationship is one of the most balanced that I have read in Harlequin Desire.

Something that draws the attention of the story is how the Latino culture —in this case, Puerto Rican and a few Dominican— is present throughout the book. Both the main and the secondary characters show the culture without effort and everything related to Puerto Rico, from its gastronomy to some present and historical data (brought to the story with fictitious names), are well documented. As a Puerto Rican, I can assure you that.

A delightful book based on emotions and a lot of Caribbean flavor is what the second installment of the Sambrano Studios series brings. And the alcapurrias taste so good!

P.D.: Sra. Herrera, se le olvidaron el coquito, la ensalada de papas y las morcillas en su menú boricua (aunque yo no como morcillas) 😉

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A trope mashup with a holiday flare.

Perla has never gotten over the love her life. She believes Gael broke up with her because of his career. She never thought she'd have to see the man who once threw her love away.

But when the role of Gael Montez's life is being produced by Sambrano Studio's, casting director Perla Sambrano know that only Gael can fill the shoes of the Puerto Rican freedom fighter Francisco Rios and bring his romance with Claudia Mieses to life. 

However, Perla has to overcome the memory of love she hasn't quite gotten over. 

If you miss Esmeraldo and Rodrigo from Book 1, they make an appearance here and they are as powerful and beautiful a couple as they were in book 1. This book was such a joy to read. I loved the nods to real-life Latinx artists, including Lin Manuel Miranda and the real life heroes of the fictional biopic. There are so many little Easter eggs for the Latinx reader that it was like finding treasures in the bleach-white sand of Herrera's native Santo Domingo.  The tropes are masterfully handled and deliver those little jolts of pleasure we come to expect from Herrera's romances. But there is also the centrality of family and especially the support that women give each other in the capacity of friendship and sisterhood. More than just Gael's love is recovered in this delightful romance.

And did I say there was one bed??? Snowed-in goodness? Enough heat to keep a couple warm in the heart of winter?

If you like your holiday romances spicy, Just For the Holidays is just for you.

I was lucky enough to receive an early review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Perla Sambrano never got over her first love, Gael Montez, but she has tried to reclaim her life in the year since her father died and she reunited with her half sister Esmeralda. Perla’s new role within the family business has her trying to convince Gael to take a role in a limited period series which she knows is perfect for him. When they’re caught kissing during the audition (“for the scene”) by his mother (who never approved that Gael broke up with her) Perla agrees to go along with the lie that they’re dating again to keep his mom happy for the holidays, in exchange for Gael’s commitment to the part.

So fake dating, second chance romance, scheming family members, and one characters mistaken belief that they’re cursed in love make this a really charming holiday romance. I was so excited to see how much Perla had grown since the first book (Esmerelda’s story) and we got a hint that the other sibling, Onyx, may not be totally beyond redemption. I wish there had been more of confrontation of Perla’s mother (a classic evil stepmother but who is also horrible to her own children) but I also think this might be saved for the next book (hopefully’s Onyx’s story). Gael’s family is so warm and lovely, and this book is much lighter in tone than the prior book in the series.

I also loved the nod to Alexis Daria’s series, and reference to a certain broadway musical about the founding fathers.

***I received an ARC from the author and am posting my honest review.***
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I'm a sucker for second chances add in a wintery Christmas setting and this just wonderful. It continued the soapy over the top family drama of the first book in this series which is exactly what I loved about the first book as well. Perla's continued redemption fits and i am so glad we got to see her story!
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4.5 stars

This is pretty much a perfect holiday romance to read. Perla was introduced in the first book of the Sambrano Studios series, and honestly, she didn’t make that much of an impression on me, one way or another. But here, she has come into her own and what a fantastic romance heroine she has become.

The story itself is frothy fun with just enough villainy by some of the extended family to make some good conflict. Swoony moments galore - it’s a holiday romance, after all - and snow and good food make plot-moving appearances. Also fake dating, close proximity, loving and meddling family members (thank goodness, because the evil ones you kinda wanna punch) - all the best stuff from a holiday romance.

Loved it. I wish it was longer, not because it wasn’t perfect in and of itself, but because there were moments where I personally just would have loved more.
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Honestly, Adriana Herrera can do no wrong in my book. Her stories are always beautiful, deep, filled with amazing food, community and family. They are so strongly Latinx - like it's bleeding off the page and feels so authentic. I love everything she does and Just for the Holidays is no different.

The Sambrano Studios series is soapy, telenovela goodness. I was so excited about Perla's book because she is such an intriguing character in One Week to Claim It All. She's beaten down by her mom but comes into full strength and it's wonderful to see her be a red-lipstick and leather wearing badass. And Gael is a tortured love interest, still in love with Perla but trying to do the best for his family. There is little tension and angst here IMO - you know Perla and Gael will get together in the end. I think the best parts were the family dynamics, Gabi especially is HILARIOUS and I want her story, the steam, and seeing Perla take control of what she wants. I also loved see Perla and Esme's relationship because that is just beautiful.

Read this if you like all the tropes: second chance romance, only one bed, snowed in during the holidays. And enjoy!

I'm voluntarily leaving this review in exchange for an ARC copy.
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Once again Adriana Herrera has created a story infused with so much passion, you can’t help but fall in love with every page.

Perla and Gael are this super swoony second chance romance with instant sizzling tension.

‘It was more than desire; it was a bone-deep wild need.’

Watching them find their way back to each other was absolutely delightful! 

I received an ARC from NetGalley and the author in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved this second chance romance! This book was a lot more tender than the first and my heart was swooning for Gael and Perla. I loved that this was a Hollywood story but it was sprinkled just enough to not take over the story. It still had a little telenovela effect towards the end and it was the perfect conflict cause it tied in a lot of what had been hinted at throughout the book. There’s also small appearances by esmeralda from book 1 and I loved getting an update on her happily ever after. 

As always, Adriana delivered with her sexy, and steamy scenes. This is the perfect holiday steamy read! One of my favorites scenes was noche buena.
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Thanks to the author & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.

📖 Q: what are you reading this morning? I just finished my last ARC due 10/26 & I think I’m going to take an ARC break before starting my ones out November.

Second chance romance often isn’t my fave but I don’t turn down an opportunity for a new Adriana Herrera book.

Just for the Holidays is a second chance, snowed in, fake dating romance between an executive in charge of casting & the *super* hot Hollywood actor who unexpectedly dumped her six years ago, after they’d been together & in love for two.

Perla Sambrano has never forgotten Gael Montez. But she wants him to sign on to a series made by her family’s studio about a Puerto Rican freedom fighter & she thinks she can get him to do it. Even though feelings 🙃.

Herrera really makes the most of the sexual tension & release in this one, offering a sexy story between two people who just can’t help but want each other. Both leads are charismatic & hot 🥵.

Also very much part of the story is Gael’s loving family, & Perla’s own (which, apart from her exec sister and brother in law is not so lovely), & how, as Perla says, she’s finding people who genuinely care about her to spend her time with…a rarity in her life. That’s built on in the Epilogue, where Herrera shares the real effort she & Gael are putting into their relationship.

But I just didn’t totally understand why their break-up happened—that part feels muddled to me—& 100% of why why Gael was resistant to picking things up in the present-day. Also I wanted Perla to really make him work to get her back—even for a weekend—& she didn’t do that enough for me personally, though Gael really comes through in the reconciliation & Epilogue.

Just for the Holidays definitely gives me hot, snowed in, fog up the windows vibes but the second chance arc falls flat for me.

3.5 ⭐️. Release date: 10/26.
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This was just ok for me ... I was expecting a few more fireworks but it was a simple, sweet holiday romance.  Also, I hadn't read the first book in this series before reading this one and had no problems following along.  I thought there would be a bit more of a hollywood/celebrity feel but it was pretty mild and was more family focused. 

Just For the Holidays... comes out next week on October 26, 2021 and you can purchase HERE.  

"Perla, you were the first amazing thing that ever happened to me, and you are still the best. I can't give you up." She had no words, but she didn't need them because he pulled her to him, and for a moment, bent down to press their foreheads together. They took a few breaths in unison, letting the thing he'd said sit between them.
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