Genre: Contemporary Romance, MM Romance
My Review - 5 Stars
Adriana Herrera’s Dreamers series is a standout of the year for me. I knew this, the third book, was going to be good but it's truly excellent. This is how you write intersectional feminist romance. It made me so happy!
Patrice and Easton shared a hot summer fling but now that they live in the same place, their differences loom before them, seemingly preventing that fling from becoming anything more. Patrice is a Haitian-born economics professor and activist, while Easton is a white assistant district attorney whose hands feel tied while the sheriff’s department targets People of Color who are driving. There’s no way Patrice can stay silent while this injustice persists. As much as Easton hates what is happening, his boss has ordered him to stand down.
As far as external conflicts go, this is quite the quandary. No matter how attracted they are to one another, racial injustice matters to Patrice on a visceral and personal level as a Black man. He has to decide what he needs from a partner. Easton, of course, needs to do this as well but the stakes are irrevocably higher for Patrice and he doesn’t want to have to educate Easton on what he should do. At the same time, as a privileged white man, Easton isn’t always going to get it right, even when he tries his best, and he will inevitably disappoint Patrice if Patrice insists on perfection. These are the questions they must address: Are they on the same page ideologically? And if they are, what external proof do they each need in order to see they can overcome their differences?
I loved how open and honest they were about their fears with this relationship. In addition to their racial differences, they have to address the power dynamics and class differences, especially as Easton becomes Patrice’s landlord. It was refreshing to see how they navigated the different obstacles once they decided to give their relationship a real go.
But romance doesn’t solve everything, alas. The plot deftly explores racial injustice, immigration, and what it looks like to make our communities and world a better place without taking a personal toll. From the side characters to the plot choices, Herrera’s experience as a social worker shines through, making sure each person’s agency is front and center. When Easton and Patrice’s issues inevitably clash, she imbues them with humanity and compassion. No one is off the hook but no one is beyond redemption either.
There are no easy answers to the questions plaguing our country these days. (Well, there are answers to some of those questions but unfortunately not everyone yet agrees.) As such, there are no neat and tidy answers in this story. But it’s a necessary one. We need to see happy endings for activists and PoC and queer people that much more. No matter the struggle, love is love and we all deserve to love and be loved in return. American Love Story is a triumph in that regard.
The epilogue further cements just what Herrera has accomplished in Patrice and Easton’s love story. It shows them doing their couples therapy homework. Even though they're good together, there's still plenty they're going to have to work through and it was refreshing and necessary to see them actually doing that necessary work.
CW: racism, microaggressions, police aggression, racial profiling, reference to coup in Haiti, political asylum, immigration, past infidelity, homophobia, toxic uncle, parental abandonment, Driving While Black, past forced outing
No one should have to choose between love and justice.
Haitian-born professor and activist Patrice Denis is not here for anything that will veer him off the path he’s worked so hard for. One particularly dangerous distraction: Easton Archer, the assistant district attorney who last summer gave Patrice some of the most intense nights of his life, and still makes him all but forget they’re from two completely different worlds.
All-around golden boy Easton forged his own path to success, choosing public service over the comforts of his family’s wealth. With local law enforcement unfairly targeting young men of color, and his career—and conscience—on the line, now is hardly the time to be thirsting after Patrice again. Even if their nights together have turned into so much more.
For the first time, Patrice is tempted to open up and embrace the happiness he’s always denied himself. But as tensions between the community and the sheriff’s office grow by the day, Easton’s personal and professional lives collide. And when the issue at hand hits closer to home than either could imagine, they’ll have to work to forge a path forward…together.
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Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from the author.