Cover Image: Full Moon Over Freedom

Full Moon Over Freedom

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
Full Moon Over Freedom is the second book in Angelina M. Lopez’s Milagro Street series. It can be read as a standalone, but as one of the strengths of the series are the multicultural small-town and its colorful residents, I definitely recommend reading both.
As for this book, this one felt jam-packed with a lot going on, but I liked the way the romance always remained the center, with the leads’ arcs evolving largely within that context. Gillian is in a precarious situation, having left her marriage to her controlling, powerful husband, and is struggling to put her life back together in the aftermath. The beginning really illustrates how this relationship wrecked her, both professionally and personally, and I loved how she regained her confidence to stand up to him over the course of the book, rebelling and shedding the “perfect trophy wife” image.
Nicky is such a sweetheart! He’s from “the wrong side of the tracks,” somewhat, and is an artist who has only just started to make a name for himself. He’s been in love with Gillian for years, but he’s trying to resist letting her in again when they meet again. There’s a bit of angst between them, as she initially doesn’t know if she wants to stay in town permanently, and he’s a bit insecure about the disparity between them, fearing he won’t be able to properly take care of her and her children.
As mentioned, there are some connected subplots, the main one being the external conflict with Gillian’s ex, which comes to a head towards the end, creating some external conflict that allows both Gillian and Nicky to fully grow into the people they need to be for each other.
Another subplot which is less connected to the romance, but was still intriguing, was one about the ghost of a woman, crying for her lost son. This aspect adds a small bit of history and mystery to the story, and even subtly amplifies the magical undertones the narrative played into in other areas. With Lopez’s revelation that this aspect is drawn from a real story from the area, I’d love to see what she would do with a story that taps into these elements a bit more.
This was another fabulous installment in the Milagro Street series, and I’d recommend it to readers looking for diverse small-town romance.

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In the first book of this series, Gillian Armstead-Bancroft seemingly had the perfect life with her husband and two children. But cracks were beginning to show and we see them emerge in this book. She is battling her husband through a contentious divorce (he is using the children as weapons), she can't seem to get hired, and her skills as a bruja aren't working the way they should. So what does she decide to do? Try and turn her life around by doing the opposite. While driving in her friend's car, she nearly runs down a man and discovers it's Nicky Mendoza, the boy she had a sexual relationship with in high school.
Nicky is ecstatic to see Gillian again but only barely manages to evade her advances. She doesn't know how much she hurt him when she left. It certainly will be an interesting summer having her be working on the grant that brought him (famous mural painter) back to town to help revitalize Milagro Street.
A little bit slower than the other book, I actually enjoyed this one more because Nicky and Gillian had the history so we got to see more of their relationship.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out September 5, 2023
Follows After Hours on Milagro Street
ARC kindly provided by Harlequin and NetGalley
Opinions are my own

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I found the pacing of this book to be slower than After Hours on Milagro Street. The pacing made it harder to get into this story. I wanted more angst out of this second chance story, if felt that there wasn’t much getting in Gillian and Nicky’s way other than the pacing of the novel. That being said I liked Gillian and Nicky for each other they were very supportive and were in tune to what the other needed. Bonus points for how great Nicky was with her kids. I did enjoy the book and will say this one still delivers the hotness that the last book did! Fans of After Hours on Milagro Street will enjoy this sequel.

*I received the ARC for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

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"In Full Moon Over Freedom" by Angelina M. Lopez is a captivating tale of second chances, family dynamics, and the intricacies of love. Gillian Armstead-Bancroft's journey to break a curse and find herself is a poignant narrative that intertwines with Nicky Mendoza's enduring affection.

The complexity of Gillian's character, a once-perfect bruja trying to embrace imperfection, is beautifully portrayed. Lopez weaves a story of self-discovery as Gillian strives to free herself and her children from the shadows of her past. The addition of Nicky, an old flame with his own haunting secrets, adds layers of emotional depth.

However, as a reader starting with book 2, the intricate connections and references from the previous book might have left some aspects unclear. Despite this, the story's central themes of redemption and love remain compelling.

Lopez's writing delves into the characters' struggles and desires, making their journey relatable and heartfelt. The concept of love tempered by fear and longing is palpable in Nicky's reluctance to touch Gillian. This unfulfilled yearning adds an element of tension and authenticity to their interactions.

"In Full Moon Over Freedom" is a tale of breaking curses, healing wounds, and the transformative power of love. While the complexity of a sequel's connections might have posed challenges, the story's emotional resonance and the characters' growth shine through, leaving readers eager to explore their journey from the beginning.

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4.5⭐

I am obsessed with this series and love that by the end of the trilogy, we will have a fully revived and bustling Milagro Street run by this amazing Mexican American family.

Angelina just continues to write these beautifully complex stories that weave history, love, family and a little hint of magic together that makes these books truly special. This sequel is heavy on the second chance romance and hometown reunion with sweet children and a tortured artist too.

I loved Gillian so much as she truly took charge of her life and fought for the life she wanted for her children like the smart, fierce bruja she was meant to be. I will say that I wasn't quite as hooked as After Hours and there were times that I wanted Nicky to speak up for how much he cares, but I love that he supported Gillian instead being overprotective.

This is simply one of my favorite romance series right now and I can't wait for book three. A must read if you love romance and badass Mexican American main characters!

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I had been wanting to read this book since I finished Milagros street so I was so excited when Angelina Lopez offered me an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. I could not wait to get my hands on it and read the story of Gillian and her first love. As always there was so much to learn and unpack. Being the oldest daughter born to the Mexican-American family there comes the generational trauma that is only understood by those who have lived it and it is done so perfectly in this book as always. The immigrant story is always done so well by Angelina she never disappoints. She also does a great story telling of Gillian finding her magic and how it is such a cultural thing that not many people would understand.

Now for the romance, wow does Angelina do romance in such a poignant way. It is so beautiful yet so spicy. I love a second chance trop, especially a first love second chance trope. AHH!!! It doesn't mean that Gillian doesn't have to deal with any toxic masculinity from her ex in there. This series is all about female empowerment, but this book especially is about finding yourself again and learning on how to lean on those around you. Confiding in those that love you, not having to do everything alone. This all comes back to the generational trauma of being the first born daughter of the first born daughter in an immigrant family mentioned in the book.

Thanks to Angelina M. Lopez and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review as always all words are my own.

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Angelina M. Lopez is a master of characters and setting. Once again, she brings the town of Freedom and its Mexican-American community to life as Gillian Anderson returns to the town she thought she'd left far behind her.

After divorcing her toxic husband, Gillian has no choice but to leave her affluent life behind her and move herself and her kids to Kansas to stay with her family. She's trying to keep up appearances as much as possible and not let anyone know how desperate she is for a job. Except she has a chance meeting with an old friend and occasionally friend-with-benefits, Nicky, and spills out her desperate story to him. Maybe he can break her curse? But Nicky, whose heart Gillian broke time and time again, wants nothing to do with Gillian and is determined to stay as far away as he can...if he can.

This is a powerful story of reconciling with your past and opening yourself up to love even when you don't think you deserve it. There were a few things that weren't for me, like Nicky telling some lies and keeping some pretty big secrets from Gillian. I liked the ghosts but was a little perplexed at their role in the climax. Plenty of spice and a lot of heavy topics handled with care. Overall, a great read and I look forward to the third book in this series.

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Gill.ian's life is...well, a mess. She is back in the hometown she never wanted to stay in, trying to figure out what to do next after she divorces her husband and can't find a job. She and her two young children move in with her parents while she job hunts and tries to heal. Shockingly for her, she finds out that her childhood friend and first lover, Nicky, is back in town as well. Though they were never in a relationship, when they were younger she asked him to help her lose her virginity - and now she wants his help getting rid of the curse that is looming over her.

What this has:
- Forced Proximity
- Second Chance
- Latinx Rep
- Magical Realism
- Childhood Friends to Lovers

I think both Nicky and Gillian are super relatable characters - I did get annoyed at Gillian at times for not being more honest with her family about what was going on but I am glad that it didn't last for the whole book. I did still have the issue with this book like the first in that some of the words in the spicy scenes gave me the ick, so I skimmed a lot of them.

I struggled with the beginning of After Hours on Milagro Street a LOT so I was a little nervous for this - but I didn't really have that issue. I liked this even though it was still missing something to make it a 5 star for me specifically. I loved the Latinx rep and bruja culture.

Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin for the eARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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I really enjoyed Angelina Lopez’ Filthy Rich series, starting with Lush Money. She captured that soap opera decadence of jet setting billionaires and royalty while keeping her stories grounded in relatable emotion and centering the books on strong Hispanic women. With her Milagro Street series, she is focused on regular everyday-ish people rather than billionaires and royalty. The smaller scale feels more emotionally powerful. Lopez has said that in writing about the Mexican-American communities of Southeastern Kansas, that she is telling the stories of her heart. I could see it in After Hours on Milagro Street, but it’s even stronger in Full Moon Over Freedom.

Gillian Armstead-Bancroft thought she was living up to the title Pride of the East Side when she got her masters in finance and married into a wealthy white east coast family. Now she’s back in Freedom with her kids and living in her parent’s house. She’s divorced, trying to get a job and protect her family’s bar, Loretta’s, from her grasping ex-husband. She feels like a failure. She wants to protect herself from questions and judgement and her kids from their father’s disapproval. She’s also a witch, a practicing bruja whose spells and prayers aren’t working. Is she cursed?

While driving down a highway outside Freedom, she almost runs over Nicky, her childhood friend and first lover. She wants him to help her break the curse, get her powers back and be a bad girl for once. Gillian is the last person Nicky wants to see, but now that he has, he isn’t following through on his plan to leave Freedom. Instead he agrees to paint a mural in the old train station turned cultural center (read After Hours on Milagro Street) while Gillian will be working in the same building writing a grant proposal. The both plan to leave at the end of the summer, but we know they are lying to themselves about their desire to put Freedom in the rearview mirror. Gillian has spent a lot of her life deceiving herself, and Nicky spends a lot of the book lying to himself and Gillian.

Nicky is a fascinating character. He is Lopez’s first Mexican American male love interest. I loved him. He’s carrying an enormous weight of grief, but at the same time he’s so comfortable with himself and dialed in to the East Side community. As Gillian gets better at standing up for herself and her children, she also won’t let Nicky put her on a pedestal. They have such a lovely dynamic.

Gillian and Nicky have both, in their own ways, had power taken from them and abdicated it themselves. As they make their way back to each other, they have to reckon with the pieces of themselves they’ve abandoned or given away in the name of peace. Gillian also has to take back the parts of herself she lost in her marriage. I love it when romance explores the difference between what we are taught a happily ever looks like and how to find a happily ever after that fits the people we are instead of who we think we are supposed to be.

Angelina M. Lopez started off strong and gets better with every book. I love that she fully embraces the small town witch romance with Full Moon Over Freedom. Being a witch is just one more thing Gillian’s ex-husband didn’t notice. I can’t wait to find out what magic the third sister brings.

CW: Ex-husband is verbally, emotionally, and financially abusive on page and off page. Racism and internalized racism. Drug and alcohol addiction discussed. Death of sibling from overdose. Parental neglect. Animal attack in past. Historical research into a Mexican American woman who had her child and business stolen by her rich white husband. La Llarona and cadejo appearances.

I received this as an advance reader copy from Harlequin and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.

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🌕 🌙ARC REVIEW🌙 🌕

There is so much heart and soul in this book! Gillian felt like she could be your neighbor where her struggles with her ex and family were so complex and real. ..and that last scene by the river valley was absolutely everything. Her power was intense and admirable 🌪️

I recently went to a town in Jersey that reminded me so much of Milagro Street! You can see the town working to rebuild and restore these old buildings and make it into a waterfront area that diverse people want to visit. They even had a mural 🎨

Thanks to @netgalley for letting me be a reader on this one! I love this series and so grateful that I get a sneak peak into it.

Last thing: I LOVE this cover! The moons are beautiful and the way we see the chemistry and magic between them is unmatched 💜

🗣️ THERE IS NOTHING BETTER THAN LATINX ROMANCE!

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This was such a great sequel to the Milagro Street series. I loved reading about Gillian and Nicky. Their story was giving all the emotions and it also has a hint of magic throughout the pages. I really liked that both Nicky and Gillian had to overcome many things to get to the HEA, but in the end I liked how the story wrapped up. This is a perfect fall witchy read and I can't wait to read the next book in the series. This is for fans who love friends to lovers.

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5/5 stars
2.5/5 spice

Magical and empowering... loved everything about this book. OMG...

Tropes:
Friends to lovers
Second chance
Brujeria
Latinx rep
Latinx folklore
Hurt/healing
Dual POV

This one brought so much to the table, and I was ready to eat it up. The folklore, the magic, the romance, the family dynamics... I was pulled in and didn't want to leave.
I actually went in semi blind with this one. I loved the first book and was excited for Gillian's story. And OMG, did this one exceed my expectations.

Gillian is soooo relatable. She was forever trying to upkeep her image of perfection but finally crashed down after her divorce, forcing her to struggle to find herself again and reconnect with everything she thought she didn't want or need. I loved reading about her brujeria and how it became the root of her journey. Break the curse, and she'll get her magic back.

And then there was Nicky... who was plagued by past sins that resulted in him castrating his own happiness so he could pay his debt. The guilt and responsibility of losing his brother was heart-wrenching, but it was interesting to see how it all manifested into something tangible like the cadejo. It was also nice to read how Gillian was the only person who ever helped him with his demons... she knew what he needed, and they were each other's safe space.

Aside from the building tension and romance, the story was enthralling on its own. There is enough of a plot and character development that the spice is just an added bonus. It wasn't overdone and blended perfectly with the story.

Overall, I loved this book, and I highly recommend this for anyone who loves second chance romance, brujeria, Latinx folklore, and big family dynamics.

Thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Romance for the ARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own and offered voluntarily.

Trigger/Content warnings:
Mentions of spousal abuse, manipulation, gaslighting, and emotional abuse. Sexual content, brujeria/magic, explicit language

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The way I enjoyed so many moments of this book. I was obsessed with Nicky's POVs. I was living for them. The way he loved Gillian is the way all women want to be loved. As much I loved Nicky there were some part of this book that were slow to me and I just wanted it to be over.

Overall, I did like this book. I enjoyed it and I recommend it to witchy book lovers. The Witchy part is a big part of the story.

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DNF at 31%. I really enjoyed After House on Milagro Street, but I don't know what I'm trying to read here. The writing feels...off? Even having read the first book I feel like I've been dropped into the middle of the story without all the information. I actually went back and reread passages more than once thinking I missed something, but it's just the way it's written. It doesn't help that after nine chapters I didn't find either MC endearing in any way (and I like unlikable heroines). Gillian is proud and independent, which I get, but she's built up her own mythology and the reader is given no insight into where that came from--or what her motivation was to wear colored contacts, get a nose job, marry the asshole of the century, and remain determined to dress like a caricature of a Hamptons housewife. Then there's Nicky, who has apparently been in unrequited love with Gillian since fifth grade (*skeptical look*). She used him for sex one teenaged summer, and now he's pretending to be engaged to keep himself away from her while also spending every free minute with her, fantasizing about her, flirting with her, thinking of her as "my girl," and--here's where I gave up--giving her an orgasm to distract her from La Llorona haunting her. When he's supposedly engaged. I just don't understand and I'm not going to force myself through the rest of this.

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I actually enjoyed this story more than the first book! I loved Gillian & Nicky's story and I'm usually not a childhood-friends-to-lovers honey. I thought it was fun that they used to be hookup buddies when they were younger, and that he "taught" her how to be intimate with others. I think I am just always rooting for a divorcee to get a second shot at a happily ever after, as they deserve!

I deeply felt for Gillian, as I have heard plenty of women share similar sentiments about being in a partnership that has become toxic or abusive. They never think it could happen to them, and they constantly make excuses for their partner's behavior, and it is heartbreaking to confront the reality of it because they hold themselves in really high esteem, like "I thought I was smarter than this." It's so devastating, because of course they are smart, capable, incredible people. There was nothing they did wrong or nothing they did to deserve the treatment they received in those relationships. That is just how narcissists works! They truly get off on bringing a smart, strong woman down a peg. It's royally f***ed up but I have seen it so many times before.

Also, I really appreciate that their dad recognized how his behavior played into toxic masculinity and patriarchal values too. We stan a man who recognizes his mistakes, the harm he caused, and strives to do better. Anyway, I thank Angelina for writing this story, as it's representative of so many women who have endured similar situations.

I thought this was a bit steamier than After Hours on Milagro Street and I loved that! I'd say 3.5/5 on the steamy scale hahaha. I can't wait for everyone else to love this as much as I did!

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(ARC from NetGalley) It’s breaking my heart to say this but DNF at 20%. I’m all for unlikeable female characters but not when they’re supposed to be likable— I felt like I was supposed to empathize with Gillian’s downward spiral but every decision was so deeply stupid I couldn’t get behind it. You’re a financial planner and the “smartest” of the family but you didn’t read the prenup before signing? You didn’t read the divorce papers either? Then you try to sleep your way out of your “curse” and don’t even ask what this man has been doing for 13 years? Also same gripe as book #1 and this is just a me thing, but I can’t do heat without heart in contemporary romance.

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Magical. Absolutely magical.

It was a joy to watch Gillian come back to her hometown, herself, and her magic. I loved watching her and Nicky overcome their past to create something magical together. It was a struggle and wasn’t without hardships, but wow, it was worth it.

While I think I liked the first book, “After Hours on Milagro Street” more, I still loved this book and it’s absolutely worthy of my 5 stars. This book included waaaay more magic and paranormal elements, which I really enjoyed. This was such a wonderful and tender love story, with a lot of spice: “good mommy” was uttered more than once. *fans face*

Tropes: second chance romance, small town, single mom, good girl/bad boy, bruja magic, high heat

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Thoughts

Like the first I really loved the community and all the back stories of people in the community. I really liked the added brujería stuff added as well.

Some things did feel off. Their kind of romance just isn’t for me. I don't want to give details and spoil it for anyone but it is definitely a personal thing.

I feel like a lot of people will really enjoy it and it will find its home.

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*Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!*
Posted to: NetGalley, Goodreads, and The StoryGraph
Posted on: 21 July 2023

4 out of 5 stars.

I requested this after I read the free 1-5 chapter preview on NetGalley and realized I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. I just didn’t take into account that I’m certainly not a romance first type of reader! That’s the only reason it took me so long to get through this read as I realized that the storyline was interesting, but the romance taking the front seat wasn’t really a writing style I, personally, enjoyed.

Putting my personal preferences aside- this was a good read! Angelina Lopez mixes some magic with the modern and it had me hooked to figure out what was happening and how it would play out.
Even the romance side was painted in a way that I could enjoy as somebody who doesn’t regularly read books that don’t fade to black. I loved the powerful main lead, loved the sister bonding, and, as a latina, loved the all-to-known family support even despite some differences we may have. I think that’s a large reason why I stuck it through despite it not being my typical read- because I love a good story with strong female characters and pairing it with a sort of tense yet supportive sisterhood relationship that mirrors my own siblings was a nice touch. Not to mention, we love a good romantic partner who knows what their significant other needs. This book genuinely made me want to go back and read the first in this (correct me if I’m wrong) interconnected series!

‘Full Moon Over Freedom’ was a delectable read that blended romance and a dramatic story wonderfully- and I’m kind of glad that this was my introduction into romance-focused reads as it’s truly made me interested to find a few more I may vibe with.

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I adore anything with folk tales and spiritual type magic. La Llorna is a scary children's story and I didn't hear it as a child but it was familiar so maybe I had. Did I do a deep dive when I heard Mamá Imelda singing about her in Coco. I loved how you honored a real woman who was put in an impossibly tragic situation and that history was hidden.
Loved how the story wrapped up at the end. It gave me all the happy feels. But it was hard won. These two were coming back to each other from a long time apart broken by the world. They didn’t necessarily fix each other but they were there to witness their healing and stand by them as they processed and realized their worth.
Gillian moved away to have a better life and to the outside she was beautiful, successful and had it all. But her ex is a piece of work and everyone gives her ish for not being more present.
Nicky is an accomplished painter and has held a torch for Gillian for years but since she didn’t put her heart out there he followed her lead. Also, when she came back and the feelings were still there he kept her at arm's length.
This is a right person, wrong time, situation for both time periods until everything just clicks into place. Her family is so supportive of her and her children. Loved the representation in this book!

Thank you harlequinbooks and harlequinpublicityteam for the gifted copy for my honest and voluntary review.

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