Romance novels. They get such a bad rep, don’t they? Too often, the word “trashy” is associated with the genre and I’ll admit, I steered clear of the Romance aisle at my favorite bookstores for a long time.
When the pandemic hit, I was desperate to read something that would be a total escape from reality and I found that in Romance. I’m still new to the genre but one author who I’ve really fallen for is Alexis Daria, a Puerto Rican writer in New York. Her first novel, “You Had Me at Hola” was perfect. A behind-the-scenes romance novel on the set of an English language telenovela, it read like everything I secretly hoped was happening with the “Jane the Virgin” cast. When she announced her second book, “A Lot Like Adiós,” I had to read it.
“In short, ‘A Lot Like Adiós’ is a steamy romance novel that also gets to a lot of topics that will resonate with many Latinos…”
The synopsis? It’s been 9 years since teenage best friends Michelle and Gabriel have spoken or seen each other after Gabriel abruptly changed plans to stay in New York for college and left for the West Coast, leaving behind a heartbroken Michelle. Gabriel, now the successful owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, finds himself back in New York to fulfill his investors’ wish of opening a New York location. Unbeknownst to him, his business partner reached out to Michelle – not knowing that she was his Michelle, the one that got away – looking to hire her to market the new gym. Michelle agrees to take on the project with some stipulations that essentially force Gabriel to spend time with her so that she can get closure.
Related Post: 13 Books To Inspire Hispanic Pride at Every Age
While most romance novels involve a meet-cute, and a build-up to the relationship, “A Lot Like Adiós” jumps right in. Michelle and Gabriel have a lot of history and pent-up feelings over how their friendship ended. Almost as soon as they come together, the book gets steamy. Michelle and Gabriel’s physical attraction definitely dominates the first part of this book but as they come together in the physical sense, they start to uncover some of what made them such good friends in the first place.
When Gabriel runs into his estranged father, Gabriel and Michelle find themselves the center of the neighborhood chisme, and tangle themselves in a messy lie to try to keep the family from finding out what’s really going on. Enter todos los primos, and all of the tías and their pointed “Y el novio? Those scenes were my favorite, reminiscent of just about every family party I have ever been to. And that’s what I love about Alexis Daria – her representation of Latino families is so authentic. One could argue those scenes don’t have a place in a romance novel but I don’t think that’s true. The relationships that Daria’s female leads have with their families (both “You Had Me at Hola” and “A Lot Like Adiós” feature cousins so there is some overlap between the families in these books) is critical to the storyline, particularly how well their lovers would be received by their families.
In short, “A Lot Like Adiós” is a steamy romance novel that also gets to a lot of topics that will resonate with many Latinos – the pressure to make your immigrant parents proud, to succeed in the US because “that’s why we came here,” and the strong family ties that bind us even through estrangement from your family. I’ve certainly felt that. “A Lot Like Adiós” is a light, easy read with a lot of nuance to pick up on and that’s what makes Daria such a brilliant writer. If you’re looking for something easy to read but with a little bit of depth and some serious romance, pick this up. It would make a great book club pick too. Happy Reading!