Today I am so pleased to welcome Adriana Herrera to Joyfully Jay. Adriana has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, American Sweethearts, part of her Dreamers series. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
I had such a hard time deciding what excerpt to pick for this post since this blog mostly reviews M/M. Finally I decided on the wedding scene.
Priscilla and Juan Pablo the MCs of American Sweethearts reunite as they travel to the Dominican Republic to attend their friend Camilo’s wedding who is marrying Thomas the love of his life. This scene was really special to write because it gave me the chance to cement the HEA of one of my favorite couples of the series, but I also got to write about an Afro-Latinx gay couple joyfully marring in my homeland with all their loved ones cheering them on.
I wouldn’t ever have to imagine what a fairy-tale wedding looked like. I was in one.
It was a small wedding; less than a hundred people. I sat in the second row of comfortable chairs lined across the white sandy beach. The sun was lower in the sky and the breeze coming from the ocean made for a pretty perfect moment.
“This is quite spectacular,” Easton whispered from the seat next to mine. On my other side were my mom and dad, and right in front of us were Nesto’s parents and Patrice’s mom.
“It is,” I agreed, as I took in the scene. The event planner, a high school friend of Tom’s, had outdone herself. She’d built a small canopy, under which Tom and Camilo would say their vows. It was covered in what must have been thousands of white and green orchids. And to the side was a music quartet playing instrumental versions of old merengue. After a moment, they began playing a more solemn piece and Tom’s mom and dad came down the aisle, looking like royalty and beaming at all the onlookers.
“It’s perfect.” I didn’t mean to sigh, but it was hard to resist getting a little maudlin. I’d never wanted any of this for myself. I still didn’t; my idea of a happily ever after had never involved a wedding dress or a white picket fence. But bearing witness to one of my dearest friend getting his own version of a happily ever after was beyond special.
“God she’s so cute.” I smiled distractedly at my mother’s comment then looked over to see Tom’s six-year-old daughter Libertad walking toward the front, a little red cushion holding the weddings bands.
That was something else I didn’t want: children. I’d never envisioned domesticity for myself, which had not been exactly an easy sell for my Dominican parents. I was their only child and I knew they’d always dreamed of getting to do this. Of seeing me walk down the aisle and stand up with the person I loved.
Juan Pablo and I would laugh, wondering how we’d break it to our parents that there would most likely be no wedding or grandkids, at least not from us. The rustling of people moving in their seats and Easton’s gasp got my attention back on the proceedings, and my eyes landed on the guys who were walking in that easy rhythm of people who were used to making space for each other.
They were wearing pastel blue linen Cuban guayaberas with gray slacks and leather sandals, with Ayako, Camilo’s work wife, heading up the line in matching blue linen romper. They all looked sun kissed and handsome; fades fresh, breads trimmed. They could’ve been a destination wedding fashion shoot.
Tom’s side came up after, with Priya, one of his best friends, wearing the same romper as Ayako but in a golden yellow, her arm linked with her husband Sanjay’s. Behind them, Tom’s other best friend and his brother walked along, smiling in their yellow chacabanas—the Dominican equivalent of the guayabera, minus the intricate embroidery on the sides. Tom followed them and, after a minute, Camilo came up with his mother.
There was a collective gasp on our side when we saw the two of them beaming as they made their way to the canopy. Seeing Camilo and Dinorah glowing had us all in tears. I looked up and saw that Juanpa and the guys were doing their best to hold it together while Ayako was trying, and failing, to blot her mascara as tears ran down her face. Tom’s face was the definition of adoration as he stood on the tip of his toes, clearly holding back from running down the aisle. The rest of us could disappear and he would not even notice, all of his attention on his beloved.
After Camilo got to the front and hugged Dinorah, all of us were ready to lose our shit. But when Milo walked up to Tom and the older man enveloped him in a tight embrace and mouthed “I love you,” with such intensity he could barely get the words out, there was not a single dry eye in the place.
There would be no judge, gay marriage not being legal in the DR. Tom and Milo had already made it official in New York City. This was the celebration of their love they wanted to share with all of us. Tom’s dad stood up to say a few words in English and Spanish about Tom and Milo and we all settled in to hear the vows.
Tom told Camilo about the ways his love had changed him for the better. How for the first time in his life he felt like he could step into all the parts of who he was without fear. And Camilo reciprocated by telling his man that because of Tom’s love he was finally able to trust that he deserved the fairy tale he always yearned for, but never thought he would get.
As Camilo and Tom made promises to each other about forever, I glanced at Juan Pablo and found him looking at me. Each time the intensity in his gaze almost made me jump in my seat.
What was he looking for, looking at me like that?
I wondered if this new Juan Pablo I’d been seeing glimpses of all week wanted something different. If he wanted something more “normal” than the low-key shared apartment we’d dreamt about as teens. I couldn’t tell. He looked at me with a mixture of longing and hope, I couldn’t quite decipher. As Milo and Tom finished their vows and then ended the ceremony with a swoon-worthy kiss, we all whooped and cheered. With that, the first notes of Celia Cruz’s “La Vida es un Carnaval” sounded across the beach and we all headed up to where the reception to end all receptions was waiting for us.
Juan Pablo Campos doesn’t do regrets. He’s living the dream as a physical therapist for his beloved New York Yankees. He has the best friends and family in the world and simply no time to dwell on what could’ve been.
Except when it comes to Priscilla, the childhood friend he’s loved for what seems like forever.
New York City police detective Priscilla Gutierrez has never been afraid to go after what she wants. Second-guessing herself isn’t a thing she does. But lately, the once-clear vision she had for herself—her career, her relationships, her life—is no longer what she wants.
What she especially doesn’t want is to be stuck on a private jet to the Dominican Republic with JuanPa, the one person who knows her better than anyone else.
By the end of a single week in paradise, the love/hate thing JuanPa and Pris have been doing for sixteen years has risen to epic proportions. No one can argue their connection is still there. And they can both finally admit—if only to themselves—they’ve always been a perfect match. The future they dreamed of together is still within reach…if they can just accept each other as they are.
This book is approximately 90,000 words.
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
- Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335215987_american-sweethearts.html
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1335215980
- Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/american-sweethearts-adriana-herrera/1132959084
- iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/american-sweethearts/id1476561854
- Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Adriana_Herrera_American_Sweethearts?id=DDipDwAAQBAJ
- Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/american-sweethearts
Adriana Herrera was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen 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, getting unapologetic happy endings. When’s she 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. https://adrianaherreraromance.com/
- Website: https://adrianaherreraromance.com
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ladrianaherrera
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- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18639202.Adriana_Herrera
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Adriana-Herrera/e/B07KQJ5B19