At the end of the day, which is more important – your core values, or the ones you love? Adriana Herrera asks us, along with a myriad of other complicated questions, in American Love Story (Carina Press), her latest in the Dreamers series of LGBTQ+ stories.
Patrice and Easton come from different backgrounds and belief systems that could pose challenges to a serious relationship, yet when they are brought together in Ithaca, NY, they are drawn to each other.
Patrice is a Cornell professor, having grown up with the bare minimum after fleeing Haiti to New York City with his mother when he was just 6 years old, and his activism is a huge part of his life. Easton is a trust fund baby who has chosen to build a life for himself away from his parents’ security by fighting for justice as assistant district attorney. But his privilege and profession have inevitably shaped an entirely different outlook on advocating for social justice.
Patrice is accustomed to fighting for what he believes in — he has no choice in order to survive in a world that continues to uphold systemic racism — and Easton’s hesitation to speak up due to pressures at work as well as his more cushioned upbringing keeps Patrice from getting too close. Patrice’s tendency to turn away before he shares too much of himself with Easton is debilitating, and Easton’s heart is broken each time this happens.
Even with the numerous obstacles straining their relationship, the two can’t seem to stay away from each other. But when local traffic police start to get overzealous in repeatedly pulling over young black men in town, Ithaca’s community is divided and the social differences between Patrice and Easton come to a head.
Patrice laments, “This sort of thing always gets to a place where you need to pick a side. … And the side I’m on, the one you have to pick if you’re going to really make a change here—it doesn’t get a lot of wins.”
Herrera carefully crafts a cast of characters with realistic flaws and strengths. With lots of LGBTQ+ representation in her novel, she explores how certain characters you may not expect are the ones who struggle with race relations and stigmas. Some of the straight white male characters are more accepting and open-minded to issues outside of their realm of understanding than some of the minority characters in the novel, which raises the important issue of intersectionality.
In addition to the gripping love story between the two leading men, the tight friendship between Patrice and Nesto is enlightening and adds another dimension to this story. The two friends are unashamed to talk about difficult emotions and give the other the support they need by vocalizing their honest feelings. In a world of toxic masculinity and fear of appearing weak by showing sensitivity, Patrice and Nesto set an example that the best bonds, even between male friendships, are founded on complete trust and open communication.
Herrera builds a diverse narrative where prejudice and fear are immediately present alongside the passion and angst at the heart of Patrice and Easton’s relationship. While the two attempt to understand each other’s complexities, they may just learn more about themselves along the way.
American Love Story is now available for purchase.
Learn more about Adriana on her Author Profile page.
About Adriana Herrera
Adriana Herrera was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last 15 years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people and gives them unapologetic happy endings.
When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a social worker in New York City working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Her debut novel, American Dreamer, has been featured on Entertainment Weekly, NPR and was one of the TODAY Show on NBC’s Hot Beach Reads picks. She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective and serves as the VP of Programs for the Romance Writers of America New York City Chapter.