A review by jackiehorne
Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera


3.5 Herrera takes the high-concept setting of a televised bake-off show set in Scotland and uses it to explore issues of cultural identity as well as romance. Kiskeya Burgos, budding professional pastry chef, and Sully Morales, amateur baker, are paired as partners for the bake-off, despite of (or because of?) their shared Dominican heritage. But not only are the two wildly different personalties—Kiskeya a focused, driven introvert, Sully a live-in-the-moment extrovert—so, too, is their relationship to their Dominican heritage. Sully, a second-generation immigrant, celebrates her heritage, and wants to use what she knows about Dominican cooking to make their baking contest challenges stand out. But Kiskeya is only three years removed from the DR, and came to the United States on her own. And her coming out as queer has estranged her from her family back home. So Kiskeya is definitely "not going to be all over-the-top Dominican" in her baking.

Both Kiskeya and Sully need to learn to compromise, and to understand each others' differences, as well as their attractions, if they are going to have a chance of winning the bake-off—or a chance of having any kind of relationship after the show ends.

Since this is a novella, the romance here happens pretty quickly, and the couple's issues get resolved fairly easily. Still, I've rarely read a romance in which a character is estranged from her culture, and has to negotiate both with herself and with a partner how much she is going to let others (and herself) define her by that culture.