Safflower is the latest (and possibly last) installment in the Tales of Bryant series by V.L. Locey. This story focuses on the delightfully flamboyant and talented cook/housekeeper, Luis. He is currently employed by Caden and his fiancé, Devon, featured in book three. Be aware that this is a series best read in order.
Luis has two dreams. The first is to become a U.S. citizen and the second is to go to culinary school and become a chef. Both dreams are tied up in promises he made to his late father and his family in Ecuador and Luis is determined to make them happen and to do so alone without help. Since he lives with an influential director who has many connections, Luis struggles to keep his employer/best friend from “helping” him too much. When both of Luis’ dreams come true, he is faced with more than a few stark realities. One, he is exhausted juggling his job and his schooling. Two, the “candy man,” aka Fraser, who he picked up at the theater, is rapidly becoming more than just a sex buddy. Three, he has the crushing realization that bigotry is alive and well; it’s threatening to ruin Luis’ chances at attaining his dream and is becoming a dangerous element in Luis’ life. It will take all his strength and determination to keep on standing tall and strong, but the fear that Fraser is just using him and his connection to Devon in order to get ahead in his acting career is always present and mars his happiness.
I love this quirky and unique group of men Locey has created and Luis is perhaps the most entertaining of all of them. From his broken English, to his flamboyant dress and outspoken way, Luis lives life on his terms, which often means he lives with the fear of failure. He is hard on himself, which has much to do with the way in which his father died, his own hard journey in life, and his own huge expectations of himself. But he is surrounded by the men of Bryant Park and they are supportive, loving, and ready to fight anyone who might stand in Luis’ way.
Safflower is a touching and funny romance that brings with it a happy reunion of all the characters in the previous novellas in this series. Luis is a strong and brave man who learns to trust, love, and believe in his dreams enough to make them a reality. I love this series and this piece of the overall story is just marvelous. Safflower joins its predecessors as a recommended read.