Reviews

Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera

jazzyjbox's review against another edition

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funny lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

I seriously love queer competition show books so much, and this is no exception. Sweet and spicy! 

literarydread's review

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3.0

3.5 cute!!

widae's review against another edition

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I did not vibe with the writting, idk

lezreadalot's review

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4.0

I imagined us as little bits of soil, of earth, from the same place that had been picked up and scattered, and now were here, blending back together. Finding each other so far from where we’d come from.

4.5 stars. This is my fifth book by Adriana Herrera, and it's definitely my favourite. Not just because it's f/f, though that certainly didn't hurt its case. This little Christmas novella gave me so much of what I want from romance, with an added sprinkling of things I normally don't expect to get, wrapped up in a vibrantly cute and sexy package.  

I loved the setting; two Dominican women taking part in a baking contest in Scotland around Christmas time. I never really caught on to the whole baking show craze, but I loved this. I would have loved a little more cooking and baking scenes but, you know, novella. Sully and Kiskeya had the most wonderful energy and chemistry; it made me giddy from pretty much their first introduction. I really adore the sunshine and grumpy trope, and I REALLY liked the fact that these characters were more than just those archetypes.. It's not always easy to give readers a really clear idea of who your characters are as people when you're writing a novella, but I think that's what Adriana Herrera really succeeded at here, and was one of the reasons I enjoyed this a lot. I knew clearly what motivated them, and I came to care about them quickly. 

But what I love most about this book, and what I find that I enjoy most about all of Adriana Herrera's books, is that the diversity doesn't simply stop at the fact that these are two Dominican characters. Their dialogue is peppered with Spanish, and they speak with a lot of slang, which I've talked about enough elsewhere but I feel like I can't say it enough: I love when slang is used in romance and fantasy in particular. Very little that makes me as happy as that. This takes place in Scotland, but it feels like such a Caribbean work of fiction, which the author achieved through the food and the dialogue and some of the conversations that the characters had. It was so meaningful to see them talking about how their queerness intersects with culture. Especially Kiskeya, and the difficulties that she had with her family. I really loved this quote:  “The DR is not an ancestral home I went to for a few weeks in the summer. It’s where I lived my whole life, you know? And even though I love it, I also know I had to leave it.”. And there were a lot of little things that just delighted me, like,  instead of gingerbread houses, making casitas as conch style houses.  I could picture it so vividly.  

And the romance was just so sweet and swoony and sexy!!! It moved a bit fast, but it certainly wasn't the most egregious offender that I've ever seen in that regard. I feel like this could have used a bit of a closer edit; sometimes sentence construction in prose seemed a little off. The little side plot with the snooty antagonists was overdone, and at one point the heroines make a really silly and questionable decision?  

But those barely register as flaws. I just had such a good time with this little novella. I hope Adriana Herrera has more sapphic work in her future; I know I'll definitely be reading them.  
I wasn’t shy or tentative about kissing, but I knew this one would be hard to come back from. I let myself feel the terrifying clarity that doing this with Sully could cost me everything. 

I did it anyway.
  

starshipstevie's review against another edition

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lighthearted fast-paced

2.5

pale_atlantis's review against another edition

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2.0

i didn’t like either of the main characters so it was really hard to get into this

lifeand100books's review against another edition

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4.0

What a wonderful story! It was completely up my alley - a love story that unfolds at a cooking competition in Scotland. As fantastic as the love story between Kiskeya and Sully was, I also wanted to eat everything that they made for the competition. Seriously, I need those recipes! (Can I also request Alex and Derek's story? Cause they stole a little piece of my heart too)

This also put me in such a holiday mood. I want to go bake Christmas cookies and decorate a tree now.

tessisreading2's review against another edition

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emotional lighthearted
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.0

This was a disappointment for me, honestly; it felt like there was an emphasis on the romance at the expense of the plot and setting, but the incoherence of the plot and setting meant that the romance didn't feel real. Neither Kiskeya nor Sully's love for baking or food really came through for me and Herrera glossed over the reality TV show/competition scenes to the point where I barely remembered that was going on. Sully was also really judgmental for someone who I think was supposed to be the less uptight main character - Kiskeya was clearly dealing with a lot that she wasn't comfortable sharing, and Sully's basic response to everything she didn't like was to lecture Kiskeya on how she was Doing It Wrong. Given the abbreviated timeframe, it felt perfectly reasonable to me that Kiskeya would have difficulty opening up and sharing some of her life concerns. The book was really well-written but the focus on the romance and the fact that I found myself not actually rooting for the romance meant that it was a "meh" for me. 

cosmicjess's review against another edition

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3.0

*3.25 stars, it was fun indeed
(TWs at the end)

this was quick, easy to read, and i felt myself wanting to turn the page after everything i read. i think my biggest gripe was probably the judgemental nature of both kiskeya and sully, towards the other women in the competition. all in all, i enjoyed it!

TRIGGER WARNING FOR: homophobia, lesbophobia, racism, injury and recovery, domestic abuse, misogyny

tomesproject's review against another edition

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2.0

I'm so sad that I didn't love this. It's a F/F winter romance starring Dominican leads that takes place over the course of a baking competition. It sounded really up my alley, and if it sounds interesting, I would still say to give it a chance. I don't read a lot of romance novellas, so this might be more of a fault of my expectations not meeting up with what the genre is in actuality.

But this one really didn't work for me, mostly because of the writing. It's written in dual perspective from Sully and Kiskeya in first person past tense, and there was something about how the past tense was written that really threw me out of the reading experience. Also, I was really unable to distinguish clearly between our main characters' narrative voices. I would often get lost in whose perspective I was in until they would mention the other woman's name.

Also, there were two distinct tones to this story that didn't mesh well for me: the bantery, holiday baking competition and the smutty scenes. It just felt like their relationship escalated from baking partners to sleeping together without much actual lead-up.
SpoilerAnd is getting engaged off page between the last chapter and the epilogue a romance trope that I'm not aware of? Because I really don't like it, and I think it's a cheap way of getting your characters to their HEA without having to write a meaningful proposal scene. I've another book with an ending like that recently, and it's really not for me.