Review: American Fairytale by Adriana Herrera

Reviewed by Olive

Camilo Santiago Briggs is a social worker with a heart of gold … and a past that leaves him unwilling to trust anything he didn’t earn for himself. Thomas Hughes is a retired billionaire looking to fund worthwhile projects close to his heart.

When the two meet briefly at a gala, there’s undeniable chemistry. When they meet again in a conference room to discuss project logistics, Milo is shocked but sure he can keep things professional. Tom, on the other hand, is looking to be Milo’s Prince Charming.

Super interesting not-a-Cinderella story. Some of this is utterly spectacular and Herrera is a truly gifted writer. Much like in the first book of this series, Herrera has her characters carving out the sorts of spaces they needed but didn’t have as kids. From the queer BIPOC non-profit where Milo works to the project these two collaborate on, a shelter (and so much more) for those fleeing domestic violence, both men are invested in this project for reasons beyond the altruistic and, speaking as someone in the field of non-profit housing and homeless services, Herrera did a great job creating something that isn’t just pandering to the SJW types.

Milo is a gorgeous character and I adored him. He stole every scene he was in. He’s worked hard to get where he is, he believes in the work he’s doing, he’s unapologetically himself, and scrappy af. He struggles with trust but is open to love. He wants this thing with Tom to work, even if there are loads of reasons it isn’t a great idea to pursue, and he does a lot of compromising to make that happen.

The peripheral characters are well-drawn and tons of fun. It was nice to get glimpses of Nesto and Jude and the other folks from book one and we meet some new people that are just as compelling. Milo’s boss and work bestie, Tom’s best friends, and Tom’s kid are all cool people that I’d love to hang out with and I enjoyed the way they brought out different aspects of the main characters. There’s also Tom’s ex-husband, who is mainly there so his invasive pushing puts Tom into some kind of sympathetic light … I think he’s also meant to give Tom a chance to grow and change, though that gambit wasn’t super successful, imo.

Cuz then there’s Tom.

I really struggled with Tom and his need to center himself in everything. I loved that Milo and Tom’s friends had no problem calling him on it … and I hated that he never seemed to understand what the problem was. I especially didn’t appreciate that he couldn’t take Milo’s word for it when a problem was pointed out, but had to have it explained to him in small words by one of his besties. Even with her input, Tom kept not only repeating the same mistake but he escalated each time. Every time was about what he wanted and every time he ignored Milo’s wishes, either unintentionally by trying to be suave and order for him (seriously, though – ordering alcohol for someone else is BEYOND presumptuous, especially at a supposed work meeting you manipulated him into) or blatantly blowing past Milo’s stated boundaries (Can I? No. What if I? No. It’d be so simple if I? No. /smirk/ Did it anyway cuz I know what’s best for you babes … 🤮). He even has the gall to accuse Milo of being the one unwilling to compromise.

So Milo is understandably unhappy when the man he loves doesn’t seem to notice or care about his feelings, and hasn’t even considered the things Milo has done to make this relationship viable. Then Tom “fixes” it with a big romantic gesture that fell pretty flat for me, not only cuz I’m not super into romantic gestures where there’s an established pattern of bad behaviour but cuz I don’t understand why this was so special. Frankly, it seemed more in line with his pattern of not checking in with Milo. I couldn’t help wondering if there wasn’t some way that Tom could’ve found to do it WITH Milo, instead of as some janky surprise.

Honestly, I can’t get excited about a billionaire character that can’t be bothered to give af about the consent of the supposed love of his life. There are enough of those assholes in the world – I want something more in my fantasy. YMMV.

Rating: B-

ARC provided by publisher

Click to pre-order: amazon

American Fairytale
by Adriana Herrera
Release Date: May 20, 2019
Publisher: Carina Press

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