Rounded up to 3.5 stars.
I loved the way the author brought Key West to life so vividly on the page. I’ve never been there, but everything was so descriptive and detailed, that I almost felt like I had been there after reading the first book.
I liked Anamaría’s character. She’s tough, smart, and strong, both physically and mentally, and she’s motivated to work hard to achieve her goals. I especially loved that she worked hard to fight cultural norms that she didn’t agree with, even if they weren’t commonly encountered in her own home:
“He remembered her grumbled curses at the machismo and sexism common in the two cultures that were so much a part of her familia’s life — Cuban and firefighting. Though much less evident in their actual home.”
As for Alejandro, I didn’t quite love his character as much. He was hardheaded and incredibly stubborn, and came off as immature and petty. The majority of his storyline involved him hosting a one-man pity party, and failing to understand why no one else saw things from his point of view while he never bothered to even try to see anyone else’s point of view.
“Yeah, thank God he was okay. If “okay” meant slipping down a fucking waterfall and busting the shit out of his leg, then being forced to return to the home he could no longer claim as his to face the people he was destined to disappoint.”
While the cultural and family aspects of the story were great, I think at times the mothers got a little too involved. It almost felt as though the mothers were forcing Anamaría and Alejandro together, whether they wanted to be or not. Honestly, it felt as though the moms forced a lot of the action to occur.
“As much as she didn’t want to think of them as being on the same side, she and Alejandro might have to come up with their own plan for putting a stop to their moms’ matchmaking.”
Things moved kind of slow in this book. Maybe it just felt that way to me because of how repetitive Alejandro’s POV chapters were, but the story was also very slow-burning. When things finally did heat up, the lead-up started out as a little explicit, but then the scene just faded out before anything actually happened. I found that strange, and it just felt like a let-down.
I especially enjoyed the way the story connected characters to their cultural roots. The immigration history in these families is touched on in such a beautiful way, and made it even more understandable why they hold onto their culture so tightly. Even with the meddlesome mamis, I liked reading about family dinners, the styles, and the delicious sounding foods! It didn’t hurt that this ARC came with recipe cards for ropa vieja and picadillo, now I just have to get to the supermarket and pick up the right ingredients to cook a genuine Cuban dinner.