From the publisher:
Fairy-tale endings don’t just happen; they have to be fought for.
New York City social worker Camilo Santiago Briggs grew up surrounded by survivors who taught him to never rely on anything you didn’t earn yourself. He’s always dreamed of his own happily-ever-after, but he lives in the real world. Men who seem too good to be true…usually are. And Milo never ever mixes business with pleasure…until the mysterious man he had an unforgettable hookup with turns out to be the wealthy donor behind his agency’s new, next-level funding.
Thomas Hughes built a billion-dollar business from nothing: he knows what he wants and isn’t shy about going after it. When the enthralling stranger who blew his mind at a black-tie gala reappears, Tom’s more than ready to be his Prince Charming. Showering Milo with the very best of everything is how Tom shows his affection.
Trouble is, Milo’s not interested in any of it. The only thing Milo wants is Tom.
Fairy-tale endings take work as well as love. For Milo, that means learning to let someone take care of him, for a change. And for Tom, it’s figuring out that real love is the one thing you can’t buy.
American Fairytale is the second installment of Adriana Herrera’s American Dreamer series. I read the first book, American Dreamer, and fell in total love with Nesto and Jude (check out my review here). This book is a perfect followup to the brilliance of her debut novel.
American Fairytale centers on the relationship between Camilo (Milo) Santiago Briggs, a Cuban/Jamaican social worker, and Thomas Hughes, a wealthy, Dominican/American tech CEO who, together with his two friends and co-owners, sells the company for an obscene amount of money. Milo and Thomas have an explosive hook up that, over the course of the novel, results in a relationship based on hard-earned understanding and mutual respect.
There is so much to unpack in this novel, so much that is done well. The negotiations between Milo and Thomas, given the huge wealth differential are critical to their blossoming relationship. They also share cultural understandings that can only come from people who come from a similar background. Kudos to Herrera for representing mixed identities in romance, something that doesn’t get depicted often. Both protagonists are of mixed parentage and this influences the way they navigate the world and their romance.
The only tiny complaint I have is that, at the end, I grew a bit exasperated with both characters – Thomas is a bit pig-headed about throwing money at problems after he is told, over and over, not to do so. Camilo, though, is also very stubborn about accepting help and complicates his existence in consequence. However, this also makes the novel more realistic because sometimes our biggest obstacles to happiness are not in external conflicts but in our own inability to get over intrinsic flaws that cause us to repeat the same damned mistakes over and over. Refreshingly, our protagonists are guilty of just that.
And can I say, I love an m/m romance that features every kind of relationship, including straight ones in a non-toxic way? Especially friendships with straight women.
I get the feeling sometimes in m/m romances that women and straight folks are characters-non-grata and, while I understand why this is the case, in the real world, things are a bit more nuanced. So kudos to Herrera for depicting that dynamic and generally giving primacy to healthy friendships as well.