For What It's Worth

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Review: American Love Story (Dreamers #3) by Adriana Herrera

No one should have to choose between love and justice.

Haitian-born professor and activist Patrice Denis is not here for anything that will veer him off the path he’s worked so hard for. One particularly dangerous distraction: Easton Archer, the assistant district attorney who last summer gave Patrice some of the most intense nights of his life, and still makes him all but forget they’re from two completely different worlds.


All-around golden boy Easton forged his own path to success, choosing public service over the comforts of his family’s wealth. With local law enforcement unfairly targeting young men of color, and his career—and conscience—on the line, now is hardly the time to be thirsting after Patrice again. Even if their nights together have turned into so much more.


For the first time, Patrice is tempted to open up and embrace the happiness he’s always denied himself. But as tensions between the community and the sheriff’s office grow by the day, Easton’s personal and professional lives collide. And when the issue at hand hits closer to home than either could imagine, they’ll have to work to forge a path forward…together. ~
Goodreads

Source: e-arc provided in exchange for an honest review

Review: I’ve been a huge fan of this series, exploring the US immigrant experience, since reading book #1 – American Dreamer. I think Herrera is writing some of the most complex, realistic romance out there right now and American Love Story kicks it up yet another notch.

Patrice, a Haitian-born activist, moves to Ithaca, NY to become an Ivy League professor & possibly to see where things go if he just so happens to run into his former hookup, DA – Easton Archer. Which, because of mutual friends, he does. But things don’t go smoothly despite their intense chemistry.

Easton comes from money and privilege and is considering a run for ADA. Although he’s a good man and prosecutes cases of domestic violence and sexual assault – he feels fairly helpless and when it comes to a string of racially profiled traffic stops. It’s not that he doesn’t care or that he doesn’t see what’s wrong but he’s able to take a wait and see attitude (in deference to his superiors) because it doesn’t effect him. Until it does. Being with Patrice, opens his eyes to a system that he believes in but now sees that he can to do better.

But man, is it a struggle to get to. Patrice, as an activist, struggles in a way that I think is very common for most people involved in causes. He’s angry and fighting the good fight but at a personal cost to himself. It’s hard to balance that activism and let yourself be happy when there’s so much work to do. Especially, if you feel like the person you love, is in  position to help, could do more - faster. He has so much on his plate and constantly feels like he has to be on top of everything, be better than his white counterparts and never let anyone down. There’s also a fair amount of, not shame exactly, but in letting Easton see where he and his mom came from and how they got here, that he might be deemed not good enough.

Patrice tends try to get ahead of being let down or rejected by having high standards. In doing so, he judges others a little too harshly for not meeting them and, instead lets them down. As he does to Easton over and over again. Easton has always been judged and deemed lacking by his father and Patrice’s constant judgement both awakens Easton to the big picture but also cuts deep at an already exposed wound.

I’ve always mentioned, in my previous reviews for the series, how fast this author gets the relationship going and then throws in the obstacles and makes them earn the HEA. Well, these two are almost doomed from the start but Herrera deftly unpacks all the issues one by one and builds this beautiful and solid relationship.

Yes, they hurt each other but both men are willing to take advice (from the wonderful supporting characters – a BIG feature in this series) and grow, say they’re sorry and do the work. They even go to couples counseling – something s rare in romance where great sexual chemistry seems to solve all ills.
A few other things I want to touch on quick because there are so many things this book does well….
Privilege – some people take this word as an insult or get defensive but American Love Story shows that it doesn’t mean you haven’t or can’t experience pain or that it’s less than. Patrice learns that Easton’s privilege certainly didn’t protect him pain or mean that he can’t understand or learn empathy for others. And Easton learns that his privilege allows him faster access to certain situations and solutions that Patrice and PoC just don’t have in their fight. it’s not about hurling it as an insult or judgement but leveraging it to help uplift others.

Activism – I was very involved in animal welfare for awhile, years ago, and it was so completely draining that I didn’t even want to look at an animal for years & it made me hate people. Social justice and activism – even if it’s done casually - can be exhausting if you don’t protect yourself. Everyone wants problems solved and they’ll let you do ALL the work if you let them so they can say they did something to ease their conscience yet walk away. But letting others help, letting some things go, learning to trust was hard but necessary lesson Patrice learned. You are also allowed to take time off to recharge and be happy. Or else what are you fighting for?

Layers of diversity/privilege – This was a super fascinating and relevant plot point. The ADA, DA (Easton) and Mayor are all part of the LGBQT+ community and when the racial profiling accusations are first reported – the first impulse is to lay low and see how it plays out because they don’t want to rile the police or community any more because it was difficult to get to their positions as openly gay/lesbian. They didn’t want to lose the hard fought for acceptance or funding for their (important) programs. You can't just fight for your own cause then stop. You need to keep using your voice to lift others.

And oh yeah – American Love Story was hot as hell and super romantic! *wink*

I think Adriana Herrera is a brilliant writer of complicated but real romances that are compelling and uplifting and I can’t wait to read what she writes next!

16 comments:

  1. I've never read this author but this does sound like a good book.

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  2. I wasn't sure about this one until you said, "hot as hell and super romantic!" I mean... that's all you need, right? ;)

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  3. Ohh hot as hell, I could read this :)

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    1. It's a favorite series of mine right now.

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  4. You're right about this being on the cutting edge with the relevant side and I like that it explored what it was like to be an activist and not just say he was one.
    Great review, Karen!

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    1. The careers, family and issues are fully explored and relevant to the story. it's SO well done.

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  5. I've been meaning to check out this series because I've seen Olivia's Catastrophe vlog about them. I love that it's more than just romance between two people. I love how socially aware it is. Definitely downloading these books!

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    1. Olivia is the one who turned me on to the first book. It's fantastic Joy!

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  6. I haven't heard of this series, but it does sound really good! I like that the author has tackled such serious issues while writing an amazing romance. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Honestly, I think she's the best at tackling these issues while still having a romance of any author out there right now.

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  7. I tend to stay away from series lately, but the topics being discussed here definitely make this sound worthy to check out. I also like that there's a good mix that includes romance too! Hugs and Happy Saturday! RO

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    1. I think she tackles it in such a smart way. Everyone has fairly strong opinions but are open to learning.

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  8. I know you recommended the first book to me, and I DO hope to read it soon. This one sounds especially good, and I like that it handles these tough, relevant topics in a good way. And bonus points for having couple's counseling!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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  9. Every time I see you loving this series it makes me so so happy. This one was wonderfully complex and I love how they both equally made mistakes and had to learn how to move forward together. Activism is so important but YES it can be majorly drowning and you need to protect yourself too. I love that you shared about your personal experience a little bit here too.

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