Jeff talks about the upcoming release of Netminder (Codename: Winger #4) and a blog post he’s written that talks about the impact the series has had on one reader. The guys also talk about the FX series Fosse/Verdon.
Jeff reviews With A Kick Collection #2 by Clare London with narration by Joel Leslie and The Whispers by Greg Howard with narration by Kivlighan de Montebello. Will reviews American Fairytale by Adriana Herrera.
Jeff & Will interview Adriana about the Dreamers series, including the soon to be released American Fairytale. Adriana also discusses the food that goes into her books, writing diverse characters, how her job as a social worker plays into American Fairytale and what’s coming up next in the Dreamers series.
Here are the things we talk about in this episode:
- Netminder (Codename: Winger #4) by Jeff Adams on Amazon (pre-order until May 28)
- 5-star Netminder review by Ana on Gay Book Reviews
- Why I Wrote The Codename: Winger Series on JeffAdamsWrites.com
- Fosse/Verdon on FX
- Tracker Hacker (Codename: Winger #1) by Jeff Adams on Amazon
- With A Kick Collection #2 by Clare London, narrated by Joel Leslie on Amazon
- With A Kick Collection #1 by Clare London, narrated by Joel Leslie on Amazon
- BGFP Episode 144 on BGFP website
- The Whispers by Greg Howard, narrated by Kivlighan de Montebello on Amazon
- American Fairytale by Adriana Herrera on Amazon
- Adriana Herrera Interview
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
Interview Transcript – Adriana Herrera
This interview transcript is sponsored by Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspinner Press is proud to publish Hank Edwards and Deanna Wadsworth’s new book Murder Most Lovely. Check it out, and all the new mystery and suspense titles from your favorite authors like Amy Lane, KC Wells, Tara Lain, and Rhys Ford, just to name a few, and find a new favorite author while you’re at it. Go to dreamspinnerpress.com for everything you want in gay romance.
Jeff: Welcome, Adriana to the show. Thanks for being with us.
Adriana: Thank you for having me. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.
Jeff: So have we, to be honest, since we’ve read “American Dreamer” that we loved so much. So, a good first question is, what was the inspiration behind the “Dreamer” series?
Adriana: So, basically, I think I wanted to write Afro-Latinx characters. I’ve said this in a couple of other conversations I’ve had about the book. It was really a specific time, a couple of years ago, right after the election when there was just a lot of negative conversation around the place of immigrants in the U.S. And I just really felt compelled to write a story that I felt can honor my identity which is Afro-Latinx, and the Afro-Latinx immigrant experience. And I think representation has also been an issue for me, with romance specifically. There are stories of people of color in gay romance, but I felt like they were either really surface characters or there was like a real, like, toil story. You know, the person had to go through every kind of horrific thing.
So, I wanted to write something that could be nuanced and also show the joyfulness and the beauty of being a person that’s Afro-Latinx and all the amazing things that we come with. So, that was kind of where I was coming from. And I also really, really wanted a book literally full of…just like the gayest, most black and brown book I could write.
Jeff: That should almost be a quote on the cover.
Will: That’s funny.
Adriana: Yeah. I wanted it to be super gay, super black, super brown.
Jeff: So, right before we did this interview, Will raved about “Fairytale.” Tell us, in your own words, what that story is about, and kind of how it falls in the series.
Adriana: So, it’s the second book in the “Dreamer” series and it’s set in New York City, which is different from “Dreamer” which is set in Ithaca. And it’s about Camilo Briggs who’s one of the best friends of Nesto from the first book. And he’s a Cuban-Jamaican social worker. And he works in the domestic violence field, which is the same field that I work in. And he meets this, like, very hot stranger at a gala and he turns out to be a big donor for the agency that he works for, that Camilo works for. And Tom is an interesting character because he’s a billionaire, which we love in our romances, but he’s also Dominican and white-passing, which is something that I really wanted to explore in a book. What it means to be Latinx but also kind of have the privilege of presenting as a white person, and what that means, and how hard that is to navigate. So, I guess, it’s about… It’s a fairytale, it’s a modern-day fairytale but it’s also, again, like a different side to the Latinx experience. And it’s sweet and fun, and cute and sexy.
Will: Yeah, it definitely is. First, before we get to the next question, I want to commend you on the sort of…what I found really enjoyable about not only “American Dreamer” but “American Fairytale” as well is the group of friends, the sense of found family that comes across really strong in this series. I think it’s exceptionally well done. And especially in that first book because, like, right at the beginning, from the get-go, you introduce this, frankly, a really large cast of characters. And I think, with a lesser author, that could frankly get confusing.
I know when I read a book, I get confused easily if there are five, six, seven people, you know, names and personalities all thrown at you at once. But each of your characters, each of the friends in that group are so clearly delineated and…especially in that first book, in the opening scene, you give us the briefest glimpses of who they are, and we understand right away where they kind of fit in the group of friends. And of course, they’re all wonderful, and interesting, and funny. They give each other shit like good friends do. I love this group of guys so much.
Adriana: Thank you. I have to admit, they’re not my friends, but those four guys are very inspired on my, like, really core group of friends in my early 20s in the DR…when I was still in Dominican Republic. My core group of friends were mostly gay men because my cousin, who’s like my brother, who’s 14 months older than I, is gay. We kind of just like started hanging out with this group of, like, queer kids in the DR. Which in the ’90s was kind of an interesting crowd to be in just because it wasn’t really okay to be openly gay.
And we had so much fun. And we did so much, like, crazy stuff together. And I just kind of really wanted to kind of like write a love letter to those friendships and those years. And a lot of them ended up coming to the States at the same time I did, in my early 20s. So, I think they feel so real because they are, like, real.
Jeff: These books are getting so much praise. What do you think is resonating with the readers?
Adriana: I think people are more open now, or I think there were always those that were open to reading about those different experiences. But I think there’s a particular appetite now for reading more characters that are bringing with them a different lived experience. And I think that might be part of it, like why people are interested in the story. And I think everybody can connect to a striving story, you know. I think Nesto, and Jude, and Camilo, Patrice, Juan Pablo, all of them, they’re just striving to be who they know they deserve to be – for the lives that they’re working for. And I think everyone can relate to that and that struggle of fighting for what you want.
Jeff: Did you also intend to make everybody hungry with “American Dreamer?”
Adriana: Yes. Yes.
Jeff: Was that part of, like, your side plot?
Adriana: Yes. Yes, I did. I wanted because…also that’s the other piece, like Caribbean food is very similar but very different in many ways. And I talk about that a lot in “Dreamer.” And it’s the…I wanted to just show people, like, all the different flavors and how we’re all connected. So, I think it’s something that doesn’t really get talked about as much, the wide variety of our flavors. So, I did intentionally want people to be very interested in Caribbean food. I wanted people to Google Dominican restaurants and it sounds like I succeeded.
Jeff: I think you did, yeah. I haven’t gotten into “Fairytale” yet. Is there food there also or do we break away from the food a little bit?
Will: A little bit.
Jeff: A little bit.
Adriana: Yeah, a little bit. It’s not as much food. It’s more of…I feel like “Fairytale” is more about, like, Harlem and The Bronx. I have a lot of places in Harlem and The Bronx because again, there are a lot of romances set in New York City. Not many of them are set in Harlem and The Bronx. So, I wanted to go to the places where…like, the diaspora that I belong to, came to. So, I think that’s more… I’m hoping people Google places to go in The Bronx and Harlem with this one.
Will: That is a good goal to have, most definitely. Now, with this group of characters, they come from a lot of different backgrounds, what is your process for basically ensuring accurate representation? Is it all from your own personal experience or something else?
Adriana: Yeah. So far in this series…and I’m sure that as I write more, then I’m gonna have to go outside of that, but so far in this series, I’ve really gone with origin stories that I know of or from people that are, like, my friends or things like that, like Camilo’s mom, for example, is a Marielita, which was a specific group of Cuban refugees that came at a specific time to the U.S.. And I kind of touched upon that because that’s a very important influx of immigrants that came at a specific time. And they’re all particular experiences that I have been connected to through my friends or family. But I do think writing diaspora is something that people need to be more thoughtful about.
So, I try to think a lot about like when did this person come, how did they come, what was the political situation in the U.S. at that time, how they would’ve been received. Like, with Patrice, you know, he’s Haitian and he’s black. His experience and the way he was received would be different than, for example, Camilo’s mom who came as a Cuban refugee and had protected status as she came in to the U.S. So, it’s very…like, there’s nuances there in the context that really needs to be thought about because it really impacts how the person can integrate into American life.
Will: And speaking of writing from experience, you have a job in social work and advocacy, did you use your own personal experience when writing about Camilo’s work?
Adriana: Yes. So, Camilo’s work and my work…I mean, I really drew from what I do every day to kind of build Camilo’s agency. I mean, kind of like my wish list almost. I wish we could have a guy that just wants to drop $2 million on my agency and tell us, “Do whatever you want with it.” So, I think it was like my fantasy of what it would be like to be in an agency that is just being well-funded, and, like, resources are just there to do the work.
So, I think it’s like my own fairytale of what it would be like to work, and just have a millionaire just drop money on us. But, yes, it’s very, very connected to my own work and kind of like my philosophy around the domestic violence field and how the work should go.
Jeff: I like how you set the books in our extremely modern times too. And I think in “American Dreamer” as Nesto faces the discrimination of the, who I like to call the evil woman, how he deals with it because I think that it tells a story that not everybody necessarily thinks about all the time.
Adriana: Yeah. And I really wanted to contrast, even in the book like Jude’s own reactions to the racism and the obvious discrimination and sabotaging and Nesto’s reactions to it, and the reality that there are different consequences for some people than to others. And that that’s a reality you kind of just have to work with.
Jeff: And I loved how he dealt with it too, taking that high road. I just like, “Go, Nesto.”
Adriana: Right. I mean, it’s a reality, like, it could have a consequence that was like very, very difficult for him. So, he couldn’t just like get into a thing with this lady.
Jeff: Right. “American Dreamer” was your first book. How did you come into writing romance and specifically MM romance?
Adriana: So, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing an MM romance for a long time. I’ve been a MM romance reader for, like, a long time. I was at the first GRL (Gay Rom Lit Retreat). I’m like an OG of MM romance. But I was a lot more involved in the community, and then kind of stepped back. I got busy and I just kind of kept reading, but I had it in the back of my mind. I find that what MM romance brought to my life, in terms of dynamics and relationships, and seeing…like I said, having friends all my life that were gay men, and me being so close to so many men who were like looking to fall in love and not being able to see love stories. I remember when I started reading LGBT books, they were very, like, sad, very sad stories like in the ’90s, right? I mean, I grew up in the ’90s.
And so just finding your romance was something that was so incredibly wonderful for me. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be even more wonderful if I could actually find my particular experience and the particular experience of the people who I love in those books?” So, it was kind of like a combination of going to a place…like the type of story that had been really meaningful to me, and then kind of putting my own experience into the space.
Jeff: What was it like to write the first book after having read so many? Was it kind of an easy process or was it crazy and hard and took years or…?
Adriana: So, it didn’t take me that long, if I’m honest, but I had been thinking about it for a long time. So, before I actually started writing, I kind of did a whole year of reading a lot of craft books, and going to workshops, and trying things. And I actually started a book set in Ethiopia, which is also a gay romance. And I got through a third of that and I was like, “I cannot write this book. I am not equipped to write a gay romance in Ethiopia right now.” And I decided I wanna do this story, this “Dreamer” story. And then that’s when I started it. But it was like a year and a half before I actually felt brave enough to actually write it. Yes.
Jeff: I’m so glad that you found that bravery. Who would you say your author influences are? You say you’ve read, you know, MM forever even before it was truly MM, back in the sadder days?
Adriana: Yeah. I have a lot of authors that…I mean, I’ve loved a lot of authors from the beginning that I think, I don’t know if I emulate, but I think about a lot in their…kind of how they render a story. Like K.J. Charles, I think, is a wonderful author. I think she just does things that are like phenomenal in writing. E. Lynn Harris was probably the first queer romance that I ever read. I think it’s really sad that he’s not, like, in the canon of what we talk about when we talk about queer romance.
So, yeah, but I mean there’s a lot of writers I like. Amy Lane’s early work was super significant for me. I thought her…some of her early books are really some of my all-time favorites. So, yeah, there’s a lot of authors that I kind of go back to and read just to kind of be inspired by the way that they render a story. Does that make sense?
Jeff: But what is it about those books that resonated for you so much?
Adriana: I think…well, first of all, it was they felt familiar in a way that was like a discovery almost, because I didn’t really ever know any people…a black man who was really exploring the falling in love and the feelings, and the struggle, and the conflicts of trying to make yourself happy, and to find the love that you have…to keep the love that you’ve discovered, right? So, I think his (E. Lynn Harris’) books thought were just so beautifully written, and so tender, and so heartbreaking. It was just wonderful. I think being raised in Dominican Republic where there’s, toxic masculinity on steroids, like, the tenderness of his books really was something that I hadn’t read before. I think it just was kind of like eye-opening to me.
Will: Now, so far in your “Dreamer” series, we’ve had Nesto and Jude’s story, and Camilo and Tom’s story. There is, of course…thank God, there’s going to be a third book. Whose story are we gonna get in that one and what can you tell us about that one?
Adriana: So, it’s Patrice’s book. Patrice is Nesto’s friend who is a Haitian-American man, who’s a professor. It’s set in Ithaca. He conveniently gets a job at Cornell in the economics department and moves to Ithaca. And he reconnects with Easton Archer who is a character that we meet in “Dreamer” who’s a prosecutor, an assistant district attorney in Ithaca. And Easton is white, so it’s an interracial romance. Yeah.
Jeff: When does that one come out?
Adriana: That one comes out in October. I just saw a proof for the cover last week…or no, earlier this week, and it is so nice. I love it. I think it’s my favorite one, and I really love the covers for both books so far. I’m calling it my Black Lives Matter romance, although it’s not super intense, but it’s definitely…like the conflict between Patrice and Easton is definitely revolving around kind of having to navigate both of, like, their positions in life.
Will: We got a brief glimpse of Patrice and Easton, like you mentioned in that first book. And then in “American Fairytale,” there was a scene with all of the friends together and Patrice sort of like phones in on Skype while they’re, like, dishing about Camilo’s love life, which was very, very funny. So, I’m genuinely looking forward to Patrice’s story. I think it’s gonna be amazing. I can’t wait.
Adriana: I know. I’ve been revising it, like I said, and I think it’s a sweet story. And then, there’s a little bit more of two characters that people have been curious about. Ari and Jin, who are employees of Nesto, and they are in their little tiny young person romance. So, they’re like a little cute element for a love story. It’s called “American Love Story.” It’s the title of Patrice’s story.
Jeff: Cool. And then you mentioned before we started actually recording the interview that you’re writing the fourth book right now. Any teasers on that?
Adriana: So, that one is not an MM. It’s an MF, actually. It’s Juan Pablo’s story. And Juan Pablo is…it’s like a, I’d say, a second chances story. And the heroine is Priscilla who is Nesto’s cousin, who’s a police officer. And it’s called “American Sweethearts.” So, the book starts with a wedding in the Dominican Republic, but I’m not gonna say whose.
Jeff: Oh, such a tease.
Will: Oh, man.
Adriana: Yeah. I’ll tease a little more when I have…I feel like I can’t tease too much on this book because it’s not even halfway done yet. But right now, I’m writing the first few chapters and they’re all in this wedding in the DR. So, everybody is there.
Jeff: But I do like how you…we’ve seen with some traditionally MF series where an MM book ends up in the series. And I like how you’re kind of spinning that around too, you’ve got an MM series so far and you’re putting an MF book in it just to, like, broaden that universe out.
Adriana: Yeah. So, my kind of little tagline is like, I write romance full of people who look and sound like my people. And there’s a lot of my people who are gay men, like so many of them. But not all of them are. So, I wanted to, in this series at least, have one story where, you know…like both Priscilla and Juan Pablo are queer. Like, she’s pan, he’s bi. But it’s also like a different type of, you know, experience because they’re both engaging in a straight relationship, which brings in…has its own privileges in terms of how it appears. So, I also wanted to explore that a little bit.
Jeff: And I think exploring the pansexuality too will be interesting because that doesn’t turn up in a lot of books, at least the ones that cross my radar. And I think it’s nice to see that representation alongside the ethic background representation that you’re bringing as well.
Adriana: Yeah, yeah. And it’s something that I think it’s…because of their age, I’m trying to kind of like engage a little bit in even Priscilla arriving to a place where she’s like, “Oh, actually, I’m pan,” as opposed to like, “I thought I was bisexual,” and how she arrived at that. Because I think that’s something that, for people my age, like I’m 40, it’s something that we arrived because we didn’t even have the language for that. Like, 15, 10 years ago, we were like, “Oh, I think I’m gay.” But then it’s like, “Oh, but there’s a whole spectrum of sexuality, gender identity.” And I think there’s so much that we didn’t know – that we know now – that should be coming up in books.
Jeff: It’s great that you’re leading the way to kind of get some of that out there, too.
Adriana: Yeah. It’s a great time to be writing romance, I think.
Jeff: So, besides the “Dreamer” books, is there anything else coming up that you’re looking to write in the coming…I’ll say years since “Dreamer” has you going for the rest of this year probably, if nothing else.
Adriana: Yeah, yeah. So, I do have a couple of things that I’m working on. I’m in the process right now of getting out this…I did write the gay romance set in Ethiopia, and I’m in the process of…like, I should have some good news about it soon. And it’s a romance set in Ethiopia, and it’s a Dominican-American relief worker. I did international relief work for a long time. And I lived in Ethiopia for about five years. And so, I really wanted to write a book set in Ethiopia because I have a lot of love for Ethiopia, and my years there were very significant in my life. So, it’s a gay romance. It’s not legal to be in a same-sex relationship in Ethiopia so there are complications. And it’s a Dominican-American relief worker and a colleague who’s Ethiopian, and they fall in love.
Jeff: I am so glad you finished that book. You kind of left that off back there when we were talking about it before, because that will be great to see… I have, you know, no experience in any of those spaces. So, to read a romance set there will be an adventure.
Adriana: Yeah. It was wonderful to write. Like I said, I have a lot of love for that country. And I think people’s perception of it is like, you know, people starving. And there’s just so much richness and so much beauty and magic in Ethiopia, that I really wanted to just show a different face to it. And I think it’s like a really sweet romance, too. And the setting is interesting. It’s more like a new adult. They’re in their 20s.
Jeff: Do you think it will be out this year, maybe?
Adriana: I don’t know of this year, but definitely early next year. Like, for sure early next year, yeah.
Will: Very cool. Fantastic. Definitely looking forward to that. Now, you’ve given us a lot of amazing information about all of your amazing books, but if our listeners want to learn even more, where can they find out more about you and your books online?
Adriana: So, they can go to my website, it’s adrianaherreraromance.com. I’m pretty active on Twitter, and my handle is @ladrianaherrera. And Facebook, I’m also there, Adriana Herrera. So, those are the places…and I’m on Instagram but not as much.
Jeff: Very cool. We will link to all of that, plus all the books in our show notes so that folks can easily click on that stuff to find you. Adriana, thank you so, so much for being with us. It’s been awesome talking to you.
Adriana: Thank you. It was so much fun and just as amazing as I thought it was gonna be to chat with you guys.
Here’s the text of this week’s book reviews:
With A Kick Collection #2 by Clare London, narrated by Joel Leslie. Reviewed by Jeff.
Back in episode 144 I reviewed the audiobook of the first With A Kick collection. Now with collection two, once again the writing of Clare London combines with the narration of Joel Leslie to make a super awesome experience. We’ve got two stories in this collection–Pluck and Play and Double Scoop.
In Pluck and Play delivery person Curtis is saved from a homophobic attack by cowboy/singer Riley. It’s an interesting meet cute since moments after Riley dispatches the attacker, he and Curtis fall into some delightful banter.
Once they meet, they continually run into each other. Riley occasionally performs on the sidewalk across the street from the With A Kick ice cream shop, which is where Curtis often makes deliveries and hangs out with his friends who run the shop.
The difficulty for Curtis and Riley–and I love how Clare handles this–is that they have to decide if the thing between them is just a one-off bit of fun or something more. Riley’s supposed to go back to the States eventually, plus he’s got issues going on with his family. Meanwhile, Curtis is hesitant to let anyone get close to him again after his last relationship was so disastrous. Clare does a wonderful job of finding the moments of tenderness for Curtis and Riley while also dealing with their troubles.
I think I’ve developed a thing recently for the bodyguard trope. Riley has a protector streak that I loved so so much. As soon as he finds out what Curtis’s ex is up to, he wants to put a stop to it. The same can be said to for Curtis because he wants to help Riley deal with his family. It’s so clear these two are meant to be together and once they figure how to get out of their own way–and take care of their pasts–to get their happily ever after to they are golden.
With Double Scoop, Clare has written my favorite of the With A Kick stories. This one centers on shop owners Patrick and Lee. As the story opens an explosion rocks the shop, injuring Lee and leaving Patrick in a fit of concern for his friend and their business.
These two have had an ongoing business and flirty relationship through the series and now they get their moment in the spotlight. Patrick, as the slightly older one, can’t imagine why the younger Lee would be interested in him. He doesn’t feel particularly accomplished, despite the business, or particularly attractive. Lee, however, knows exactly what he wants and keeps going for it even though Patrick doesn’t make easy for Lee to get and stay close.
Clare toys with them and the reader in the most delicious way–bringing them together and then causing a rift. It made for a fun yet tense read going back and forth. Luckily the amazing cast of characters that Claire has developed over the series come together to help get the shop reopen and bring the two men together. Their friends know what’s best for them even if they can’t figure out how to make it work.
Both With A Kick collections are great for sexy short romances that have the best happily ever afters. You can’t go wrong picking it up on audio either. Joel Leslie does a tremendous job with a large cast of characters, particularly in Double Scoop since almost everyone who’s appeared in the series shows up here. Joel deserves a special shout out for Riley, who is the only American accent and it’s a southern one too. I enjoyed listening to him go back and forth between Curtis’s British and Riley’s southern.
So if you’re looking for some fun reads, that will surely make you want some ice cream this summer, pickup With A Kick Collection #2 by Clare London … and grab the first one too if you haven’t already.
The Whispers by Greg Howard. Narrated by Kivlighan de Montebello. Reviewed by Jeff.
This was a quite an unexpected middle-grade gem that often surprised me with the depths it explored. I’ll caution as I get into this that the end packs a lot of emotional punch and some readers may want to tread lightly on this young man’s journey because it’s heartbreaking while it does conclude in a very satisfying and fulfilling place.
Eleven-year-old Riley is missing his mama. She’s been gone for a few months and Riley doesn’t know why. He’s one of the last to see her and he meets regularly with a police detective to try to fill in pieces of what he knows. However, he gets frustrated with the speed the case is moving. He remembers the story his mama used to tell him about the whispers, little blue fairies who live out in the woods. He can’t help but wonder if the whispers might be the key to getting her back.
What I loved so much about this book is how strong Greg made Riley’s narrative, keeping true to how an eleven-year-old might perceive the world. Riley already knows that he’s gay. He refers to that is one of his “conditions” that he has to keep secret, and this is not his only one. He also crushes on Dylan who he refers to as the redneck superhero. Dylan’s in eighth grade and he keeps up his superhero status by actually acknowledging Riley, and occasionally defending him against the school bully.
Riley convinces his best friend Gary to go on an adventure in the woods to find The Whispers. Again, this trip reveals so much about Riley as he has to deal with a hobgoblin (or was it), the fact that Dylan may not be a superhero (or maybe he is) and the consequences of saying the wrong thing to your friend all the while trying to do the right thing so The Whispers will help him.
One of the extraordinary characters in this book is Tucker the dog. Tucker is Riley’s faithful companion, always at the boy’s side to nudge him in the right direction and keep him safe. The dog has an amazing personality that shines through Riley’s narrative. I don’t think I’ve ever read a dog on a page quite like Tucker and I absolutely loved it.
It’s a credit to Greg that he had me so invested in Riley that I didn’t try too hard to piece together what was happening. As the plot hurtled toward its conclusion I was constantly surprised and pivoted between sadness and happiness as the revelations came fast and furious.
Kudos to Kivlighan as well for capturing Riley so perfectly. It was a very satisfying audiobook experience.
This was my first Greg Howard book and I’ll definitely check out his other titles. I do very much recommend The Whispers if you’re looking for a superb read featuring an eleven-year-old who is going through a lot but comes out stronger and wiser on the other side.
American Fairytale by Adriana Herrera. Reviewed by Will.
When Camilo, a NYC social worker, goes to an absurdly swanky charity event that his boss can’t attend, he’s intent on enjoying the special evening, which includes chatting up the hottie he meets at the bar. After a few drinks and some suggestively flirty banter, he and Mr. hot stuff find a dark corner and make the night truly memorable.
The next morning, Camilo’s boss introduces him to Tom, the millionaire who’ll be financing their agency’s major renovation project. Tom also happens to be Camilo’s hot charity gala hook-up from the night before.
Aware how awkward the situation is, Tom agrees to keep things strictly professional from now on, but also asks that Milo be the point man on the project, keeping him up-to-date on the renovations.
Their weekly meetings begin to look more and more like dates – a meal at a fancy restaurant, a walk through the botanical gardens. Camilo is no fool, but as he gets to know Tom better – he’s certainly not your average philanthropic millionaire, there is more than meets the eye – the pretense of “keeping things professional” begins to hold less and less appeal.
When they can no longer deny the attraction, Tom takes Milo back to his place. The sex is amazing (of course), but the afterglow is short-lived when Tom’s ex drops buy with their daughter.
Tom shares custody of Libertad, his daughter, with his former husband. Learning of all of this (which Tom failed to mention up until that point) briefly throws Milo for a loop, but it’s hard to resist the precocious the little girl, and Milo falls even harder for the millionaire and his ready-made family.
A situation with Milo’s mom has him taking on more work and financial responsibility and, in addition to that, he’s working overtime as the massive renovation project is wrapping up.
He’s stretched almost to the breaking point. When Tom offers to help, the fiercely independent Milo insists he has it all under control.
Tom quietly takes care of things. It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, right? In this case, no.
Camilo is furious.
As a reader, it’s hard not to feel frustrated by Milo’s stubborn streak. Your boyfriend is a millionaire for god’s sake! Get over yourself!
But it eventually becomes clear that Milo is, of course, right. Tom’s intervention robbed Milo of his own autonomy. It’s Milo’s choice whether or not to ask for help – no one else’s.
This is a deal-breaker for Milo and it causes a major rift in their relationship. Tom has to find a way to fix things, by doing the hard work and not using his money to solve their problems.
This is a romance, so Tom figures things out, and pulls off a grand gesture that is less grand, and more heartfelt and considerately thoughtful – which is exactly what Milo needed.
It all wraps up with swoon-worthy family vacation to the Dominican Republic.