A review by lezreadalot
Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera


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.