It’s the rules of threes. Just this week, there was the recent news that Barnes and Noble was releasing diverse book covers for classic (and very white) young adult novels that not only don’t have diverse authors, but were chosen by an AI that scanned classics for main characters that weren’t EXPLICITLY described as white. YEEEAH.
That of course came on the heels of a huge publishing scandal involving a non-Latina author writing an immigration story from the perspective of a Mexican family to the tune of a seven-figure advance. The only thing uglier than the immigrant erasure was the publisher’s response to the backlash.
But the New Year began with the ugly implosion of Romance Writers of America due to its racist, exclusionary practices that has led to canceling the RITAs and much more. The book reading community is in need of some #OwnVoices wins.
If publishers and advertising giants and booksellers and multi-media conglomerate-owning singularities and trade organizations can’t get this diverse books thing right, then readers and writers know it is up to us to get the good stuff in as many hands and on as many shelves as possible.
Enter romance author, Adriana Herrera. Born in the Caribbean and living now in New York City, Herrera writes romance novels “full of people who look and sound like [her] people.” Her Dreamers series debuted last year and stars a diverse cast of characters that reflect the immigrant experience in America. If you are looking for a fantastic romance that’s truly intersectional, wildly fun, and a quick-grab, one-click series, Dreamers is it.
American Dreamer follows Nesto, an Afro-Caribbean immigrant looking to take his food truck business from the busy streets of the Bronx to the quieter community of Ithaca. He’s betting all he has that his unique blend of flavors and food will hit a sweet spot in an area that needs diversity of options. So, he says goodbye to his close friends, sets up his food truck near his mom’s place upstate, and naturally, runs into a very cute librarian on his first day out.
Jude walks by Nesto’s truck every day on his way to his job as the youth educator at the local library. The flirtatious way that Nesto engages him straight out of the gate flusters and tempts him. Despite being out, he’s not as open to casual relationships (or serious ones) as Nesto and Jude’s own friends want him to be. But the pull between them is strong, and their relationship moves at a normal and still exciting pace.
I loved the dynamic between a very confident Nesto and an unsure Jude. Where they click, they click. And where they clash, they refine one another. It’s not a story about one party healing the other, but an honest portrayal of two people learning from mistakes and growing into something new and real.
The immigrant experience is celebrated in the novel in everything from the descriptions of the truly delicious-seeming food (have I never had Caribbean food??) to Nesto’s chosen family to his real one. White supremacy and racism rear their ugly heads in villainous ways that reek of current cultural climes. But the prejudice is not tropey, but instead is an important part of the plot, of how both main characters relate to one another AND each other. Their experiences with different types of prejudice are woven into the strands of their relationship.
So, if you are looking for a way to celebrate diverse authors, especially in light of all the ways that they are so systemically overlooked, check out Herrera’s series. The first book in the series is FREE on Kindle Unlimited, and really … what is better than reading a great romance series in the KU? Supporting great WOC romance authors at the same time.
Read American Dreamer today.
Beth is the proud sponsor of two little women and a huge fan of fandom. She took 3 years of Latin in high school and now speaks fluent pretension, which fully explains her current preference for gay wizard regency novels. She will roll over for a giant book with a map in the front. She takes comic book recommendations every day but Wednesday and TV recommendations never (she knows what's good).