I like romance and boys loving boys in my books.
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The word that primarily came to mind while mulling over this review was "realistic". The whole book felt real, as if it were a true story taken from the life of a NYC dancer and the man for whom he falls. Realistic in a way that there's no contrived conflict, no miscommunications between the characters, no huge blow-ups, but simple, true, strong love pitted against one man's family's extreme homophobia, and the organic way these two men must deal with that.
This being my first book by this author, and only her sophomore novel, I was blown away by her talent. A great plot, well-flowing, and easy (not simple), crisp yet emotional writing - it's all here. Sure, there's angst, but none of it is for angst's sake. It's all necessary here, needed to understand why these characters act the way they do. And while we don't get enough of a glimpse into Jaime's head, I understood why he was conflicted and torn between his family and his love.
I cheered for, feared for and rejoiced for the main characters throughout, with my eyes glued to each word on each page, as they fight for their relationship and their right to live life as they please. And even more poignant, the book drove home the point that small things can have a huge impact not only on your own life, but that of someone else.
Exceptional. Superb. This is an author to put on my (and your) watch list.
** I received a free copy of this book from publisher upon request. A positive review was not promised in return. **
The continuation for Siempre, this book picks up about three years after Sean and Jamie first met, shortly after their marriage. They're still happy together, though Jaime still has no patience for Sean's "white guilt". I loved how the author addressed those issues without getting preachy. Jaime's family is also still mostly estranged, though his little brother reaches out to him more in this one. Sean is still dancing and teaching. Life is good. Except, they're missing something.
They've been talking about adopting a child, and when presented with files for Angel and Margarita, siblings who need to be placed together, there's no question for either that they will take them both.
This book focused, in a realistic and organic way, on the issues that Sean and Jaime have to face as they invite both children into their lives, as they begin the adoption process for them, as they begin to teach these kids that they are loved and protected. There are funny moments and heartbreaking moments and heartwarming moments throughout, whether it be with the children or with a set of the best friends anyone could ask for.
The author continues to wow me with her easy-flowing writing style. I read this book in one sitting, sniffled on occasion and smiled widely at the end.
Tessa Cardenas did a fabulous job portraying the two kids in this novel. They're not perfect, and Angel has some underlying anger issues, as expected, while Margarita is shy and fearful. The emotional toll abuse takes on children is explored, as well as the patience and perseverance it takes to bring them back into the light. Sean and Jaime are also not super parents - they still have lots to learn, but they are willing to admit when they make mistakes, and then make amends.
A wonderful sequel to Siempre, I highly recommend you give this book a chance.
** I received a free copy from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **