Ep #201


This week Ana hosts the podcast with special guest author Priscilla Oliveras as they introduce our September theme Friends to Lovers and discuss the growing Latinx Romance community


> ANA COQUI (she/her) A lifelong genre reader, Ana grew up reading fantasy, sci-fi & mystery novels in Puerto Rico, before finally wandering into the romance section of the library in search of HEA’s after bawling through one too many dystopian novels. When she is not reading, knitting, writing about romance for Love in Panels or running #RomBkLove on Twitter as @anacoqui, Ana is a school librarian


> PRISCILLA OLIVERAS (she/her) Priscilla Oliveras is a USA Today bestselling author and 2018 RWA double finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. Her work has earned recognition in the Washington Post, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Redbook, and Publishers Weekly, among others, and her latest book, Island Affair, made O, The Oprah Magazine’s “28 of the Best Beach Reads of Summer 2020” list. A devotee of the romance genre, she’s also a sports fan, beach lover, Zumba aficionado, and connoisseur of hammock naps. Find out more at https://prisoliveras.com or catch up with her on Twitter and Instagram @prisoliveras



NOTE: These notes include affiliate links to Bookshop.org and Amazon.com

NOTE: This interview was recorded in mid-August during the 2020 Covid pandemic

> Ana mentions Priscilla’s most recent release, Island Affair, although it’s not friends to lovers

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2DuVQOp

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49348205-island-affair

> Priscilla mentions her next release, Anchored Hearts, which will be a second chance romance

Bookshop: unavailable

Kindle: https://amzn.to/31ZkaBC

Goodreads: unavailable

> We don’t know anything else about this Summer in the City anthology, but it sounds great!

> Priscilla mentions Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera which is set in Ethiopia

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3lZy2ni

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54224500-finding-joy

> Ana and Priscilla mention Encanto, the now defunct Kensington Latinx Romance line, and here is a thread from the BGSU Browne Popular Culture Library which discusses Encanto and its place in Latinx Romance history

Link: https://twitter.com/BGSU_PopCultLib/status/1180138700233048065

> Ana mentions the musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 created by Dave Malloy inspired by Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Link: https://greatcometbroadway.com/

Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natasha,_Pierre_%26_The_Great_Comet_of_1812

> Ana mentions the discussion she moderated between Alexis Daria and Adriana Herrera for Word Up Books in August, but it doesn’t look like they’ve posted the video online yet

Link: https://www.wordupbooks.com/event/romance-fandom-and-friendship-alexis-daria-adriana-herrera-conversation

Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/wordupbooks


> Priscilla mentions Their Perfect Melody (Matched to Perfection #3) which includes a visit to a Cubs game

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3h7n63e

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39208294-their-perfect-melody

> Ana and Priscilla discuss the Latinx Romance community including the 4 Chicas Chat, Natalie Caña, Ida Duque, and Lydia San Andres

Link: https://m.facebook.com/groups/129928597589399

Link: https://twitter.com/NatCanaWrites

Link: https://twitter.com/DuqueWriter

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14227149.Lydia_San_Andres

> Title: Her Perfect Affair (Matched to Perfection #2)

Author: Priscilla Oliveras

Relation to theme: friends to lovers, one night only, surprise pregnancy

Representation: Latinx author, Latinx MC, white MC

Content Warnings: Unplanned pregnancy, family secrets

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3312pB9

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35697617-her-perfect-affair

> Title: Pretending He’s Mine (Love on Cue #2)

Author: Mia Sosa

Relation to theme: friends to lovers, sibling’s best friend, fake dating

Representation: Afro-Latinx author, Black MC, white MC

Content Warnings: whitewashing and racism in Hollywood

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/31Y8EpP

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35442424-pretending-he-s-mine

> Ana and Priscilla mention The Worst Best Man, Mia Sosa’s latest, although it’s not friends to lovers

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2R5z7f6

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43801254-the-worst-best-man

NOTE: Ana is a beta reader for Mia Sosa

> Title: American Sweethearts (Dreamers #4)

Author: Adriana Herrera

Relation to theme: friends to lovers, second chance

Representation: Afro-Latinx author, queer author, Latinx MCs

Content Warnings: CW: racism, colorism, microaggressions, references to child abuse cases, MC’s cop father was shot in the line of duty and ultimately retired from the force, MC almost shot on the job two years prior

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2EYFC0L

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50775142-american-sweethearts

> Ana mentions American Fairytale (Dreamers #2) also by Adriana Herrera, which is a Cinderella retelling, and not friends to lovers

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2ZhTsCq

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43388516-american-fairytale

> Title: Real Men Knit

Author: Kwana Jackson

Relation to theme: friends to lovers

Representation: Black author, interracial romance

Content Warnings: foster care, adoption, death of a guardian

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2Z3dSyQ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52195135-real-men-knit

> Speaking of knitting, don’t miss Ana’s beautiful knitted creations on Instagram @anacoquireads

> Title: Playing House (Uptown #1)

Author: Ruby Lang

Relation to theme: friends to lovers, fake relationship

Representation: Asian author, Asian MCs

Content Warnings: divorce, job loss, feelings of worthlessness

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs (The Uptown Collection)

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3jPjVPI (Playing House)

Kindle: https://amzn.to/337eG76 (The Uptown Collection)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44662244-playing-house

NOTE: Ana beta read Open House (Uptown #2) by Ruby Lang

> Love cinnamon roll MCs? Check out RomBkPod episodes #129, #130, #131, & #132

> Title: Like Lovers Do (Girls Trip #2)

Author: Tracey Livesay

Relation to theme: friends to lovers, fake relationship

Representation: Black author, Black MCs

Content Warnings: evil ex

Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/lists/host-ana-s-recs

Kindle: https://amzn.to/354FDL8

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50309161-like-lovers-do

> Which friends to lovers or #LatinxRomance favorites did we miss? Tag us @RomBkPod or share with us in the comments


Music: “Lift Off” by Jahzzar

From the Free Music Archive

CC BY-SA 3.0


ANA [00:00:00] Welcome to RomBkPod, second season, unbelievably. We’re back after a pandemic related break. And we’re here to talk about books that we love and we’re starting off our second season talking about friends to lovers books. And I also took the time to talk to Priscilla Oliveras because she’s one of my favorite Latinx romance writers, and September is Hispanic History Month. So, I figure this is a great way to start our year. Welcome, Priscilla. 

PRISCILLA [00:00:32] Gracias. Thank you so much for the invitation to chat. I’ve been really looking forward to it. 

ANA [00:00:37] I’ve been too I even took a pre-nap so I could be, like, ready… 

[00:00:41] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:00:44] That was a great idea. I wish I would have. I’m like juggling multiple deadlines right now. So, part of me is like, [inaudible], what’s my name again? So, but I’ve been, I set so many…I was so excited, like, set a reminder for yesterday, I set a reminder for a couple hours before, and then like an hour before. 

[00:01:03] <laughter>

PRISCILLA [00:01:04]  Countdown to Ana time. So, I’m happy to be here. 

ANA [00:01:08] I am so glad you said yes and I’m so glad that we get to talk about books. Now, you’re down south, right, and in the middle of this pandemic. 

PRISCILLA [00:01:19] Oye. 

ANA [00:01:19] All of us are stuck at home, but we can always travel through our books, right? And for you, you shared with us Island Affair, right? Which is your newest book and that takes us to Key West, all the islands down south there. What are you doing now? Right now that you’re home and you can’t go to those places just relying on your memory and thinking? 

PRISCILLA [00:01:42] Well, the Keys to Love series, Island Affair is book one in the series. And actually right now I’m revising book two. It’s called Anchored Hearts. And I lived in Key West. We, my dad was in the Navy and we moved there. Excuse me, the summer before my seventh-grade year. So, all junior high, all high school, and even in college, and in early married life, if I was going “home” to visit Mami and Papi, it was home to Key West. So I rely on a lot of my memories, thank goodness for technology: 1) during the pandemic, it’s helping us stay connected to familia and friends, but also 2) Google and Google Maps and Google satellite, while I’m writing, is a good way to travel and put myself in a place, whether it’s Key West or if I you know, I actually just finished writing and revising a novella that will come out in an anthology next June called Summer in the City. And that takes place in New York City. 

ANA [00:02:40] Oh wow. 

PRISCILLA [00:02:41] So whether I was so I was doing a lot of Google Maps and, you know, and in Google’s highlight that kind of stuff, to put myself in different locations throughout the city. 

ANA [00:02:49] Mm-hm. 

PRICILLA [00:02:49] To get the bird’s eye view, because, yes, I can remember, but from when I was there. But you also it helps me to kind of visualize it more. But I agree with you, we’ve gotten…actually I was just talking with a reader on Instagram about this yesterday, the number of places that books can take us even when and we’re stuck at home right now. 

ANA [00:03:12] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:03:12] One of the authors that we’re going to talk about a little bit later Adriana, she had her book, Finding Joy, that came out earlier this summer and takes you to Ethiopia. 

ANA [00:03:21] Right, where she lived, she lived there for some time. 

PRISCILLA [00:03:25] Yes. 

ANA [00:03:25] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:03:27] So beautiful. I’m hoping with Island Affair, one of my goals is if you visited, I hope you feel, I hope reading the book evokes your memories and makes you feel like you revisited it. And if you’ve never been there, then I hope you feel like when you get to the end that you have actually put your toes in the sand at South Beach with Luis and Sara and you gone out on the boat, you know, to Snipes Point and you stopped and taken a picture at the zero mile marker, you know, like they do, and I’ve done, and so many other people that go visit. 

ANA [00:04:00] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:04:00] So that’s my hope that you feel like you’ve taken a vacation, even if it’s virtually, you know through Island Affair.

ANA [00:04:07] I’m looking forward to that. My brother lives in Miami. 

PRISCILLA [00:04:11] Oh, okay. 

ANA [00:04:11] So whenever any of the Florida-set books, it always makes me remember my visits to him and our time there. 

PRISCILLA [00:04:19] Oh, nice. Nice. I hope they’re doing OK. But Florida is not a place we want to visit. 

[00:04:24] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:04:24] I’m indoors. I hope they’re doing okay down there. 

ANA [00:04:27] Yeah. My Papi is in Daytona and he’s, he’s staying put, masking up, and just avoiding all the crazy people. 

PRISCILLA [00:04:35] Yeah. Same here, same here. Mami, Papi, and I are going out when necessary. I miss the beach but my hammock in the backyard is a very nice…It’s always been my number two place to kind of refill my well. It is bumped up to number one these days. 

[00:04:51] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:04:51] But it does the job. 

ANA [00:04:52] That’s great. Now I want to know, Priscilla, what brought you to romance. 

PRISCILLA [00:04:57] Oh, gosh. Well, as a kid you know, I read this Sweet Valley High, I gobbled up Victoria Holt Gothic novels, and so, I’ve always been like a romantic…you know, I like a happy ending in my stories. 

ANA [00:05:14] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:05:14] Nancy Drew, always solve the mystery, right. But the first time I read an adult romance novel was actually in Key West. My sophomore year, we were stuck in a hurricane shelter for several days in the Keys. And by day two, I was climbing the walls with boredom and obviously bothering, you know, bothering my parents. And Papi had taken as part of his hurricane supplies was, one of them, was a bag full of Harlequin Presents and Harlequin romance novels because he was a big, and he still is, a romance reader. By day two, he was like, “Mira take one of my books and leave us alone.” So that was that. I was ushered into the world of adult romance thanks to a Harlequin romance, all those years ago in that hurricane shelter. And I just again, I fell in love with that happily ever after. 

ANA [00:06:09] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:06:09] To me, that is, I really believe romance is like some of us like to say, the genre of hope. 

ANA [00:06:16] Right. 

PRISCILLA [00:06:16] And stuff happens, right? 

ANA [00:06:18] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:06:18] But life can suck and there is a lot of conflict. But if you have the right people around you and you grow and change in the ways you need to, and you create like what we what we call in teaching romance, that healthy society around you, then anything is possible. And I feel like right now, especially we, we need that hope. 

ANA [00:06:42] Yeah, absolutely. 

PRISCILLA [00:06:43] And the books that we read. So that’s what drew me to romance. That’s what keeps me writing romance.is…and I think even if I watch like I’ll watch an action film and I can be like, “oh, that was a great movie. It would’ve been a little bit better [inaudible] if that couple would have…” Right. I’m always looking for a romance thread in anything, so I’m firmly implanted in the romance genre. 

ANA [00:07:09] I hear you about that. I was a relationship reader long before I discovered I was a romance reader. So, I was reading those fantasy novels and finding the romance and finding the story and then sometimes having my heart broken because the authors didn’t a value that the same way I did. 

PRISCILLA [00:07:27] Well, I don’t I don’t read that many non-romance. I will say some like how to self-help those kinds of things. But any movies, especially. 

ANA [00:07:36] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:07:37] Where they don’t end together, I mean, ay dios mio, days later I’m like, “but they could have done this…”. 

[00:07:44] <laughter> 

ANA [00:07:44] And even like plays. I remember I went to watch Peter and Natasha and the Comet of 1812, and that’s based on War and Peace. Peter? Yeah, it’s War and Peace. Because if my husband’s in love with that book, he’s read it like twelve times. And like a lot of those novels, they have big romantic through lines. 

PRISCILLA [00:08:04] M-hm. 

ANA [00:08:04] You always trying to get me to read them. And I’m always like, “and what happens is a couple?” 

PRISCILLA [00:08:11] Ah-ha. Yes. 

ANA [00:08:11] So when we were watching it, I explained to him, like some of our tropes, the grovels and all that kind of stuff. And I’m like, this is where this fell down. This is where it could have been good. 

PRISCILLA [00:08:23] This is where they missed the mark. 

ANA [00:08:25] Yes, and that’s what I like as a romance reader. And I’m glad those two didn’t end up together that would have been a travesty. Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:08:32] My girls kind of know the same if they have watched a movie or seen whether, you know, when we were going to movie theaters or on, on the television and they’ll say, oh, this is so good, especially if I know that there’s a romance that then now I don’t even have to say is, am I gonna be happy or satisfied with the ending? I don’t even have to ask that. They will say, Mom, you’ll be okay with the ending or mom, it’s a great movie, pero, I don’t think you’re gonna watch or it’s to at least prepare me. 

ANA [00:09:00] Exactly that way you know, like if I’m going to see tragedy, I better know about it. 

PRISCILLA [00:09:04] Yes. Yes. If he’s going to die right at the end, I mean, I need to, I need to be prepared. 

ANA [00:09:13] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:09:13] Or I’m going to rewrite it in my head. 

ANA [00:09:15] Exactly. I think, I was just in a conversation with Alexis and Adriana and we were talking about fanfic and that element that driving desire, fixing a story that doesn’t go right. And sometimes it’s about putting ourselves in the center, but sometimes it’s just being able to rewrite it in your head because you’re like, so disappointed where the author went. 

PRISCILLA [00:09:42] Yes. That’s why I’m, I tell I tell my students, I teach an online class for Ed to Go like a continuing education class called Romance Writing. And I mentor, I’m adjunct faculty with my MFA program at Seton Hall University, and one of the things we talk about is you can even learn from the books or the movies that don’t, you know, speak to you. 

ANA [00:10:05] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:10:05] Or that miss a mark somehow for you. Because then how would you as a, If it’s a book as a reader, where did it, where did it go wrong for you? And how would you then…so what do you not want to do in your book? Or how would you change it to apply to your book, to your writing so we can learn from the books that we love studying them and seeing. There are so many times I’m reading a book and I find myself like, I’ll pause all a sudden and realize, man, I almost said, I almost said, “damn,” and that I was like, “can I say that?”. Damn, that was good. And I’ll go back to reread it to appre–, because I appreciated it as a reader already, but then to go back and appreciate it as a writer. You know what that what the other author has done. But the same thing, if there’s something that I’m like, oh, it doesn’t. What. What can I. How can I learn from that? What would I want to do different so that it did meet my reader expectations or to make sure that I don’t do that in my in my own writing or trying not to anyway. 

ANA [00:11:10] I mean, we’re not going to please everyone. 

PRISCILLA [00:11:12] Yep. 

ANA [00:11:12] But it is still, I think you’re totally right. There’s, there’s, there’s some books that I’m very glad I’ve read, even if they didn’t satisfy me in some way because they’ve taught me something about what the author was trying to do or or he taught me something about myself or something I need in a story like I mean, their story. If I feel like, you know, like sometimes they just they finish or you want to see more, right? Because you, you’re a person that needs a little bit more settled. 

PRISCILLA [00:11:38] Mm-hm. 

ANA [00:11:39] And you learn about yourself as a reader of like what are you an epilogue reader or you’re an epilogue skipper or are you someone who needs their books to be interconnected? I mean, we, we learn all that as we, as we explore. 

PRISCILLA [00:11:51] Yes. Yes. 

ANA [00:11:53] Now, when you decided to write romance, did you always know that you were going to write romance with Latinx characters? 

PRISCILLA [00:12:01] No. And I will say I’ve shared this, you know, in panels and other places. I feel that I started writing when I was really young, and I didn’t know much about the genre other than as a reader. But I, I was doing. It took me twenty-six years of write–, from with the day I started typing like chapter one until I signed my first contract with Kensington. So, that’s a long time. 

ANA [00:12:29] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:12:29] I like to say, well I did a lot of loving. I did a lot of living. I know that hopefully those experiences now enriched my books. 

ANA [00:12:37] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:12:37] But anyway, in the beginning I did what I what we all are told and what I tell my students is study the books that you like, study the books that are out there. And fortunately, at that time, you know, back then, I rarely saw any books that had Latinos, you know, Latin, the people from the Latinx population as the leads. 

ANA [00:12:59] Right. 

PRISCILLA [00:12:59] And so, my, my early books were bad for a lot of reasons. Right? But I also know that it was not until, like, my first Golden Heart final, the first book that I had people interested that that I got to revise and resubmit. 

ANA [00:13:16] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:13:16] Eventually they said, “yeah, it’s not quite right. What else do you have?” Right. Were the first was the first book that I wrote with Latinx leads. And I think I needed to grow and learn. 

ANA [00:13:28] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:13:28] More in the genre. But also, I mean, I came into like my own and I realize that the stories that were inside of me, were the people that I wanted to write about, were a little bit different. 

ANA [00:13:42] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:13:42] It was reading the Encanto line that Kensington had years ago with, with Berta Platas and Caridad Pineiro, and Lara Rios, and several others, right? 

ANA [00:13:52] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:13:52] Those were, that was the first time that I picked up a book and there were people that look like mi familia. Whether they were in San Antonio, you know, Tex Mex, Mexican Americans, whether they were people from Puerto Rico like my you know, my mom, my mami’s side, that was the first time. And I think that was a switch for me to then realize that part of the problem with my stories were that I don’t think I was being true to what I wanted to write and what I wanted to see on, on, on the page and on the shelves. 

ANA [00:14:26] Yeah. Like, I came too late to romance to have read the Encanto line and I’m trying to track some of those down value book stores and stuff like that and it’s hard going, but it’s for me it was some of your books that were the first where I was seeing Latinos written by Latinos. Because so often I would see a Puerto Rican character, and I’d be so excited, and it was written by a white author who had maybe minimal exposure to West Side Story at some point. 

[00:15:00] <laughter> 

ANA [00:15:00] And you, you took it because that’s what, there was nothing else, but if there’s a marked difference, like, I’ll always will remember Jeremy shopping for olives and find trying to find the right things. 

[00:15:13] <laughter> 

ANA [00:15:13] And it felt like, oh, yes, she knows a Puerto Rican person. So, yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:15:20] That was fun. I think there’s been fun times in Rose’s book, actually her Perfect Affair. Papi, one of my, my dad, one of his sayings is, “no me diga.” Right. Like, you don’t you don’t say or don’t say that. You know, it’s that he uses it. We use it in a variety of ways, like literally translated, literally translated, “no me digas” is like don’t tell me, right? 

ANA [00:15:44] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:15:44] Or “don’t tell me that.” But he says it in like a wow or I can’t believe it. 

[00:15:49] <laughter> 

[00:15:49] Right. And somebody says it. I can’t remember when one of the amount one of the sisters in and I was back in my in the office at my desk writing and Papi came in with Rose’s book in his hand, and he said, “oh, yeah, I’m in your book.” And I said, “what?” And he said, “no me diga” with this little grin on his face. So, we try and even in an Island Affair, when my first daughter, my first born, was reading it because, yes, they buy it. But my girls. I always wonder, are they going to really read it or are they just buying it to be supportive? So, it’s on the bookshelf. They can send you a picture. Look, Mom. But she started texting me. There are a few, not Easter, not little Easter eggs, but just there are little snatches of things that happen. Like in our, in our familia. 

ANA [00:16:42] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:16:44] Or like, there’s a little golden doodle puppy. And, you know, we, we had a golden doodle who passed away last year. Or there’s when Luis talks about his abuela being a rock star domino player… 

[00:16:59] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:16:59] Who if you were gonna be her partner, you need to be paying attention, right? 

ANA [00:17:04] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:17:04] Like my girls can tell you a story of times like that with my abuela, their bisabuela, their great-grandmother, same way. And so, I enjoy hearing from readers that, that say, “oh, it’s this, you know, I can see me or mi prima or, you know, mi familia in your books.” But also knowing that my girls and my familia can see themselves is, is…brings, gives me a sense of joy, see that they see that books like that, and our representation out there on the shelves or on people’s Kindles, you know, it’s, to me, that’s really important. 

ANA [00:17:43] Yeah, I think it makes such a difference to read a book and to suddenly feel yourself like, “I’m there.”

PRISCILLA [00:17:50] Mm-hm. 

ANA [00:17:50] “That’s a piece of me.” And like your dad, it doesn’t have to be somebody literally who looks like you. It can just be that phrase, that moment of memory. Um, and maybe that item that they’re eating, and you’re just like, yes, I know. 

PRISCILLA [00:18:07] I think that’s across the board. That is the importance of diversity in the books for adults, for kids, for…that validation or that self, that sense of there’s someone out there like me or you know, or even I am, “that’s me.” 

ANA [00:18:26] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:18:26] You know that they can see that. I think that’s so important. And so for all those people out there, you the voices that are calling for more and more, I hope we just keep, keep getting louder. Keep getting louder. 

ANA [00:18:42] Yeah. Every time there’s a book announcement for a Black or Latino or Asian author, I’m so excited because it’s sort of like, yes! More stories about more people in the world. This just grows us as a community. 

PRISCILLA [00:18:56] Yes. And for those who are outside of our community. 

ANA [00:19:00] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:19:00] I do that on a panel. I had someone in the audience once asked me, “hey, if I’m not Latinx, you know, will I be able…really will I be able to identify with your book?” And my my first, my first… 

[00:19:11] <laughter>

PRISCILLA [00:19:11] Ana, I know! My first, my first answer was, “it’s a romance.”. 

ANA [00:19:17] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:19:17] “So, if you’re a romance reader or if you want to learn more about it, if you want to experience a romance novel, then yes.” My book, Alexis’s book, Kwana Jackson’s book, Tiff Marcello’s book Pintip’s Books, right? 

ANA [00:19:31] Mm-hm. Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:19:32] Any of Adriana’s books that Latinx, that are LGBTQ, that all of those, right? 

ANA [00:19:39] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:19:40] That’s a part of our… 

ANA [00:19:42] It’s our common humanity, right? 

PRISCILLA [00:19:43] Yes. Right. Being Latino or Latina for the Fernandez sisters, you know, you Latino for Lewis and whatever… 

ANA [00:19:53] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:19:53] Is a part of who they are, but it’s not all of who they are. 

ANA [00:19:56] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:19:56] Right? I think it enriches the story. I feel like it enriches the story. And if you’re Latinx I hope you feel like, “Yeah, hey, that’s my abuela.” or whatever, right? But if you’re not, I hope you just feel like you’ve experienced a little bit of our culture. 

ANA [00:20:09] Right. You I mean, like I when I picked up Her Perfect Affair, I was also paying attention to the school librarian rep. You know. 

[00:20:16] <laughter> 

ANA [00:20:16] Let’s see how this is done, because that’s another part of my identity. And so, yeah, I think there’s love multiple entry points and connection points. And its as Latinos, we’ve often had to hold on to those things because we didn’t see ourselves as Latinos in the box. And it’s just so nice when they can be like, you see yourself multiple ways like, “oh, they’re Cubs fans like I am!” 

PRISCILLA [00:20:42] What! Yes. Boy, writing that writing the scene in Their Perfect Melody, when the Lili and Diego take a group of kids from the youth center to the Cubs game was so fun just pretending you were there. I didn’t I did not have to use Google satellite for that. 

[00:20:57] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:20:57] I just put myself in those bleacher seats, and I had a hot dog in one hand and ice cream in the other, and I was cheering like Lili. It was fun. That’s the fun part of I think writing is when you get to fall into your story, and be there with your characters, and then hoping you can get that on the page so that your readers feel the same way. 

ANA [00:21:19] Yeah, yeah. Now you’re… 

PRISCILLA [00:21:23] We got way off track.

ANA [00:21:23] Oh, no, hey! That’s how, you know, casual conversation. We’re going to go fun places because… 

PRISCILLA [00:21:32] Sounds good. 

ANA [00:21:32] That’s, that’s who we are right now. 

ANA [00:21:35] You’re a big part of the Latinx rom community, your part of like the 4 Chicas Chat, you really work to promote other Latino writers. What do you find about that community? 

PRICILLA [00:21:49] Super supportive, super supportive, as far as you know, something good happens to one and we’re we’re all there cheering. Someone has a question, someone needs help we know that we can…I mean, that’s across the board and Romancelandia. But I will I will say, in the Latinx rom community, we also like the 4 Chicos chat are Mia Sosa, Sabrina Sol, Alexis Daria and me. And we just kind of by chance started when, when I was debuting I wanted to pitch an article to USA Today like their HEA. I thought they might be more interested in more than just one debut drop off. 

[00:22:33] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:22:33] So I pitched, “Hey, what would you, what about an interview with four Latinx [inaudible]? ” And they said, “Yes.” And I knew I knew each of the other three ladies and some of them knew each other. And out of us having conversations for that article, it just kind of grew. But out of, it’s more than us four, our idea is hopefully to be part of the slowly growing, thankfully, Latinx rom community and the 4 Chicas Chat space on Facebook isn’t just for us. It’s, it’s we like to think of it as our casa, so our house. And everybody, come on in, grab a drink from the fridge and sit down on the couch and let’s you know, [inaudible], vamo habla, um, un poquito de chisme, you know, a little bit of gossip, a little bit of cheering, a little bit of, you know, complaining or, or congratulating about familias stuff. So, I think in a nutshell, I really like I started to bring it back around because I can talk about that forever. 

ANA [00:23:32] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:23:32] Were the, the up, the up or your rate that we that we give each other is important and there’s a lot of ups and down writing is hard. There’s good days, there’s bad days, there’s gray hair days, there’s pulling out here days. But there’s also days to celebrate. And, um, the little things you have to remember and the Latinx rom community is amazing about doing that for and with each other. And our hope is just that it keeps growing. 

ANA [00:24:04] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:24:04] And when one good thing happens for someone, then maybe it opens the door for someone else. And I think we all are really good about trying to reach out and help lift up the other because it’s important. 

ANA [00:24:17] Yeah. Like, I feel like, you know, like Adriana has such good foodie books in her, like American Dreamer books. And then people say, “why, I want more of that.” I’m like, “well let me introduce you Sabrina Sol.”. 

PRISCILLA [00:24:29] Ah-ha! 

ANA [00:24:29] You know, and because you know, there’s often through lines and connections points and you’re like, you can say, “look, if you like this element, maybe you want to try somebody else who’s doing this.” 

PRISCILLA [00:24:38] I gain weight just reading Sabrina’s books. 

[00:24:39] <laughter> 

ANA [00:24:41] I still dream of that pastry case. 

PRISCILLA [00:24:45] Why! 

ANA [00:24:45] Oh yes. 

PRISCILLA [00:24:45] Oh my gosh.

PRISCILLA [00:24:47] Yes. We had a Latinx rom retreat, just a small one. There were eight of us that were able to get together last fall. And I’m in and I’m in a little bodega here, a little Spanish market that they have, and they had pan dulces. And I’m texting Sabrina, “do you think I can get pan dulces on the plane with me without, without it crumbling…you know when we get there?” And she’s like, “oh, my gosh, Priscila only you would text me about thinking about shoving pan dulce in your carry on.”. 

[00:25:15] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:25:16] I’m like, priority’s here! It’s a retreat. No… 

ANA [00:25:22] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:25:23] It was fun. That wasn’t a really good experience as well. Yeah. 

ANA [00:25:29] I mean, one of my favorite experiences with you guys as a leathernecks from community. I got to meet with a lot of you at RWA last year, 2019, when we were New York City, and there was the Latin Rom, um, Latinx Meetup, and everybody, like you guys were all coming and going because Mia was coming from an Avon thing. 

PRISCILLA [00:25:54] Yeah. 

ANA [00:25:54] And you were running from some other place. 

PRISCILLA [00:25:56] And it was like RITA night. It was like the awards ceremony night. 

ANA [00:25:59] Yeah. Yeah. So it was a crazy day. And so, like, I was there for a little bit, I got to catch lots of different people. But I was also really moved by seeing a lot of the pre-published authors who were there. 

PRISCILLA [00:26:12] Mm-hm. 

ANA [00:26:12] Who are coming from all places in life who are found themselves like, this is what they want to write, and it seemed like, yeah, I hopefully I’ll see Natalie Caña books someday. 

PRISCILLA [00:26:22] Yeah, I was going to say. 

ANA [00:26:22] Ida Duque’s book, you know, like, you know, I’m like I’ve, I’ve read some of Lydia’s and I want more people to read Lydia San Andres. 

PRISCILLA [00:26:29] Yeah. 

ANA [00:26:29] So, so yeah. I think…where do you think it’s going? Where do you think? 

PRISCILLA [00:26:34] I hope, I hope it’s more and more like, like you said, um, I know Lydia just signed with an agent Sarah Younger. So, we were all again, like, yes, you know, our goal is more books on the shelves, more books on eReaders and devices. I mean, heck, we want more of our books into movies, right? 

ANA [00:26:53] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:26:54] Into TV shows, so world domination! No, I’m just kidding. 

[00:26:59] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:26:59] Just kidding. We just want there’s room, there’s room for, for more. And it’s not taking a spot from somebody else. It’s…romance readers are voracious readers. And you finish a book today and you want you want to pick up another one. And I can only write so many books in a year, right! 

[00:27:16] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:27:16] And Sabrina can only write so many in a year. So Sabrina tells a story that she came back from one of the RWA conferences and she had gotten me to sign some books, some of my books for her mom, because I write on the heat level spectrum I’m more sensual, closed door. And I’m the, I’m the cool on the other end of the spectrum, probably from the from the other ones. 

ANA/PRISCILLA [00:27:42] Mm-hm. Sabrina was recently, yeah, she was, she was in an erotic compilation. Yeah. Yeah I yes I’ve had it. 

PRISCILLA [00:27:48] I’m not always the sweet end, pero, I like to think maybe I’m nearing the middle but Sabrina’s at the you know…anyway Sabrina took some of my books home and she, she message in our group and she said, oh my gosh, my mom was like, “Oye, Sabrina. This girl has some Spanglish in her books. Is she taking that, you know, like a space where your books are…you know, like taking…?”

ANA [00:28:13] Oh, yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:28:13] And she said she told her, “No, I no, Mami. No. We have, Mom no, there’s, there’s room for all of us. It’s great.” And so, I think that is the idea that we you know, we want to make sure we we’re spreading. It’s not that there’s more Black romance, that there’s more Latinx and that there’s any kind of, right? It’s not taking a spot. There’s not a finite number of books that can go out of rom-com films that can be shot, you know, and put on streaming or whatever. So our hope is the number of Latinx rom authors that we have Sabrina created like a Twitter list so that we can keep track of each other, that, that number just continues to grow. And do we have we have a movie watching party altogether, for somebody’s film on, on the 4 Chicos Chat on Facebook, and we’re all logging into whatever streaming to watch it at the same time. Who, whoever, whatever Latinx, whoever, whichever Latinx room author film were watching. 

ANA [00:29:14] Breaks through that way. Yeah, yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:29:16] We’re gonna be excited, and we’re gonna be cheering, and, um, that’s what we want. 

ANA [00:29:20] And I mean, I think that’s the core of being friends while also writing together. I think that’s because if you’re if you make those friendships and those things tie you together, you root for other people. You root for other people and feel like it, it can only make things better, right? 

PRISCILLA [00:29:37] Yes. It doesn’t do any good if someone announces something and you’re you know, you’re like, “Oh, why not me to me?” Right? That negativity doesn’t help me creatively. Right? So, for me, I always, I always try to focus on: Let it inspire you. Like look, that’s awesome. And so, keep working hard because that or something like that or know or something different, but just equal equally is as positive can happen, you know. 

ANA [00:30:08] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:30:08] So and I do feel like that is the vibe within our Latinx rom group, you know, that something good happens and we’re cheering and then we’re back to work, you know because… 

ANA [00:30:20] Mm-hm. The next book is due, right? 

PRISCILLA [00:30:21] Yes. Yes. That deadline is, is, is a motivator. 

ANA [00:30:27] But I think I’m very thankful you’re taking sometime between your editing and you’re all that kind of stuff to come and talk to us. 

PRISCILLA [00:30:35] This has been fun. I always, always I’m always up for chatting with you. 

ANA [00:30:40] Now, Her Perfect Affair, I think, fits a little bit into the trope of the month. And one of the things we do here from book parties that every month we take a trope or three something and we talk about it from different perspectives because there’s four different shows and with different hosts and everybody has their own perspective. And we all have like very different books that we read and stuff. So, we’d like to, like, expand on a common theme. So, this month we’re gonna take on friends to lovers, which is, you know, I think that’s an element within Her Perfect Affair. There are people that they knew each other. 

PRISCILLA [00:31:12] Yes. 

ANA [00:31:12] They didn’t maybe have the most solid background together, but here they are suddenly going to become parents and some things become real, right? 

PRISCILLA [00:31:20] Yes. Mm-hm.

ANA [00:31:21] What drew you to that trope? 

PRISCILLA [00:31:23] I’ll say the friends to lovers, probably–I think that’s the only time I’ve written it–is my favorite trope in the sense that I’m, I’m more about the angst. 

ANA [00:31:35] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:31:35] And maybe you can tell my books like closed door, you know. I’m more like the buildup, the lead up to that. And for me, the friends to lover is an, and I personally am not a good risk taker. 

[00:31:48] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:31:48] So that risk of wow, are we going to you know, are we going to cross that line? We have a good day right now is friends. If we cross that line and it blows up, what…you know, can we lose everything? So to me, that can’t that internal conflict is up or is increase for the characters. And as a reader, I’m like, will they? Won’t they? Are they are, they are they going to and they aye dios mio! They did. Right? 

[00:32:16] <laughter>. 

PRISCILLA [00:32:16] And, and for, in Her Perfect Affair, Rosa’s had a longtime crush on Jeremy. He’s a friend of her older sisters and he’s been interested. But, but neither one of them have acted. 

ANA [00:32:30] ‘Cause they’re rather cautious people in their regular life. 

PRISCILLA [00:32:32] Yeah. 

ANA [00:32:33] It takes that just one-night trope too. 

PRISCILLA [00:32:33] Yes. 

ANA [00:32:33] Of like this escape from reality. 

PRISCILLA [00:32:38] Yes. So, they do, they do get together right away. And because it’s also, it’s also like an unexpected pregnancy. So, it’s a friends to lover um, the older sisters, close friend, and then and then throw in the unexpected pregnancy. So, you know, they get together. The book then is these two people that were friends, became lovers, are trying to go back to, you know, trying to figure out they want to do the right thing. And Jeremy’s right things, what he thinks, is way different from what Rosa, what Rosa thinks they should be doing. Um, and so that that’s kind of what the book is about: two people who are struggling to do the right thing and but they’re, they’re on, you know, have different ideas of what that is. 

ANA [00:33:25] Right. That priority of, for Rosa, she wants to make sure that she doesn’t trap anybody or or trap herself into a loveless relationship. And so she’s going to make sure that, you know, it’s going to make lots of potential losses ahead for her by making those choice. But she makes that choice because that’s what she values and the same time you find out all about Jeremy’s backstory and all the things that drive him over, like why it’s so important to do the right thing, kind of thing. 

PRISCILLA [00:33:55] Yes. And for Rosa, she’s the good girl of the Fernandez familia, right? so everybody expects that she would do what “is the right thing” and marry the guy. 

ANA [00:34:05] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:34:06] For them, what probably one of the first times she stands up for herself, I think motivated by standing up for her child and like what you said, she doesn’t want to be in, she doesn’t want to be the one Jeremy settled for. 

ANA [00:34:21] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:34:21] And, and that’s important to her. And so, they have to figure out how to find their way to each other for the right reasons and not not because they think it’s the right thing to do. That’s what she is refusing to do, and that’s what he has to come to learn as well. So anyway, it was actually a hard that was one of the hard books for me to write because they’re such good people. I just wanted them to be happy. And my agent kept saying, “no, you need to throw more at them.” 

[00:34:52] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:34:53] “You can give them more conflict.” And I said, “I just want them to be happy.”. 

[00:34:57] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:34:57] So that was hard having, trying to write about good people because me personally don’t want to hurt good people. I don’t wanna hurt anybody. 

[00:35:06] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:35:06] But anyway. So, yes. So that was that’s the one and only friends to lovers book I think that I’ve written. But we have some other ones that some great ones to discuss. 

ANA [00:35:20] Yeah. You added on to our list Pretending He’s Mine by Mia Sosa and I beta read that one. 

PRISCILLA [00:35:26] Oh! 

ANA [00:35:28] Because I beta read from Mia. And yeah, I love that book. It’s such an interesting play on the brother’s best friend and then also a friends to lovers and how the fake relationship, all that. 

PRISCILLA [00:35:44] Yeah, just like trope plastic. 

ANA [00:35:45] Yes. 

PRISCILLA [00:35:45]  She’s got those three, those three big trophies going on, right? Um and Ashley moves in, you know. So yeah, it starts off with she’s interest, she’s always had a longtime crush and he’s interested in her, but he’s her brother’s best friend and… 

ANA [00:36:02] And agent! 

PRISCILLA [00:36:03] Agent, right? Even he’s got a, you know, a dicey relationship like personal and business with her older brother. 

ANA [00:36:11] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:36:11] So, so that trope. And then she’s got to go to a family wedding and she doesn’t want to show up being without a partner. Never haven’t figured out her life yet. You know, and he agrees to pretend that they’re dating because she’s been living with him, because she’s in between. She has no place to live. She’s, she’s really flighty and she doesn’t do commitment. But, but she is… 

ANA [00:36:37] She is, she doing the flight, the flight attendant thing at the time? 

PRICILLA [00:36:41] Yes, yes! 

ANA [00:36:41] She’s literally flying from place to place? Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:36:44] Yes. Yes. Yes. I mean, I think it’s beautiful. How Mia does it? So that’s her personality, right? She did, she flits from relationship to relationship just in her personal life and even in her professional life. That’s what she’s doing; Landing different places. But Mia does her steamy scenes are, oh, so steamy. 

[00:37:06] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:37:07] There’s a scene in this book that they’re side by, they’re sharing a bed and then something happens. And I was like, “oh, my gosh, I can’t believe that’s happening.” While I was reading. So, it’s real, It’s really good. That’s, that’s anything by Mia. I think any of the authors that we’re going to talk about, any of those. Anything that they write I’m like, “yes, one click and you will be thankful that you one clicked.” 

ANA [00:37:35] Yeah. I am so thankful that I got to read this whole series ahead of everybody else, you know, like when. 

[00:37:43] <laughter> 

ANA [00:37:43] Because then I was just waiting for people to discover the arcs are out. And, and you get invested definitely because you see where the writer has been going and what they’re tweaking. And yeah, I absolutely love Mia’s writing and I’m so excited that Wrong Best Man is doing so well. 

PRISCILLA [00:38:01] Yeah. Yes. The Worst Best Man! 

ANA [00:38:05] Yes. Thank you. I always do that… 

PRISCILLA [00:38:06] Oh my gosh. That’s another one. There’s a scene in that book with their like, she’s been, she’s been visiting like this tulip field so I can, I can even just close my eyes and I can picture all of the tulips and there’s a car and a hood. And that’s all I’m gonna say. 

ANA [00:38:23] Check them out. Plus there’s delicious food. 

PRISCILLA [00:38:24] Yes. Yes. In The Worst Best Man is the, the heroine, I didn’t write down the name, I’m going to mess up the name. But her heroine is Brazilian and so. 

ANA [00:38:36] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:38:36] And the great comunidad like familia that, that she has. Again, it’s just a beautiful mix of Latinx Brazilian culture with sexy rom-com. So, The Worst Best Man it’s a lot of friends to lovers trope if you’re looking for friends lovers. 

ANA [00:38:52] Yes. 

PRISCILLA [00:38:54] Pretending He’s Mine is that is the one with that trope. It’s the trope-tastic book. But both of them are definite recommends for me. 

ANA [00:39:03] Yeah. And in Pretending He’s Mine she has a fantastic Black hero, that’s always really great to see too. Well, that’s something that I love that Mia does this also bring the Black identity forward in her heroines and heroes. 

PRISCILLA [00:39:20] Mm-hm. 

ANA [00:39:20] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:39:20] Yes. So that was one that was one of my recs. 

ANA [00:39:26] Yeah. So, I wanted to talk about, yeah, American Sweethearts by Adriana Herrera. 

PRISCILLA [00:39:29] Yeah. 

ANA [00:39:30] And this is one that, you know, they’ve been sort of the culmination of the American Dreamers series where it’s intersecting band of friends and they’ve been friends from childhood. And in it, this is also a second chance Juan Pa and Price have had previously tried this and things are falling apart. And now they’re heading to a wedding of one of their friends, they’re going to the D.R., and sort of like they’re up close and personal again and things are romantic. And I love, I am a second chance lover. So, I love this idea of people trying to figure out can we stay friends? We already did this and it was really tense. 

[00:40:16] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:40:16] Yes. 

ANA [00:40:17] Yes. 

PRISCILLA [00:40:18] I will tell you the other day, I can’t remember. It’s a sign that I’m on social media too much. But so, it was either on Instagram or was on Twitter and there was a, I was having a conversation with fellow readers about second chance romances. And someone was, and someone said, “You know, I love reading them. But in real life, all there are a lot of exes in my past that I do not need to revisit. Thank you very much.” 

[00:40:42] <laughter> 

[00:40:43] And I said, so my response was, “Amen. I completely agree with that.” In a book as well, well-written as America’s Sweethearts is, I am so down for the second chance for romance. I’m actually writing one now. Book two and in the Keys to Love series Anna Maria and Alejandro, it’s a second chance romance. But when it’s as well done as American Sweethearts between Juan Pa and, when I first read it and I saw Priscilla, I don’t see a lot of Priscilla’s. So I was like, “Yay, I’m going to get to see my name in print.”

[00:41:15] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:41:16] So but Adriana does a fantastic job. You know, they’re both…Priscilla is so strong. And their, their relationship has, like you said, it’s been decades, you know, that they had this connection. And you’re just wondering, has he done enough changing? Can she believe that he’s done enough changing? Can she trust? Is is kind of what? Part of part of her issue. Trust that they’re that they’re now at a at a better place. There’s so many things work for them. 

ANA [00:41:50] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:41:50] You want to hope that they can that they can, they can communicate and get past it. You know, everything like you’re, you’re wanting that HEA for them. 

ANA [00:42:01] Yeah. And so much of it is breaking down that the, the front that you put out to the world, right? And that’s something that happens a lot with friends to lovers is that people can see behind that. Well, you put out to other people. 

PRISCILLA [00:42:14] Right. Right. That facade. 

ANA [00:42:17] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:42:17] That, “I’m fine” or “I’m tough” or I’m whatever it is that you’re putting out to the world, your friends, especially someone, as you know, is is long term, can often see this and see behind that, or they’re the ones that you need to be able to allow to see behind that. And when that happens, even if you’ve got to still have this aura for the world, for, you know, for whatever reason. 

ANA [00:42:42] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:42:42] But, but to be able to let someone crawl inside or behind that mask, you know, is hard to do. 

ANA [00:42:50] Super hard. 

PRISCILLA [00:42:50] Yeah. Yeah. But she…her writing is fantastic, Adriana’s. So, definitely…that’s book four in the American Dreamers. 

ANA [00:43:00] Mm-hm. And I recommend all of those books. 

PRISCILLA [00:43:01] Yes! 

ANA [00:43:01] I love them to pieces. And probably my favorite was Tom and Milo. Because one of the things I love about Tom is he’s a Dominican with American father. And so, people see his name and see how light skinned he is and that’s when he’s white, and he’s like, I got a surprise for you: I’m really Dominican. And you know how that sort of stealth Latinx experience. 

PRISCILLA [00:43:37] Yeah. 

ANA [00:43:37] That can have its very own pitfalls because after you feel all these micro aggressions, because people don’t know that they’re talking about your people, you know. 

PRISCILLA [00:43:44] Yes. Yes. 

ANA [00:43:47] I think definitely the stuff that beautiful stuff that Adriana is able to do in her books that she can put sort of a variety of Latinx experience on the page. 

PRISCILLA [00:43:57] Yes, yes. That’s American Fairytale. 

ANA [00:44:00] Yes, thank you! I was like, the one with Cinderella. 

PRISCILLA [00:44:04] That’s book two in the Dreamer series. But if you’re looking for the friends to lovers trope, then our rec is American Sweethearts. 

ANA [00:44:13] Yes, absolutely. 

PRISCILLA [00:44:13] Book four.

ANA [00:44:14] I feel like you can totally pick it up if you haven’t read the other ones. I think it’s deeper if you know Milo and Tom and all the other folks, but you can certainly like if you’re a trope reader, you can pick it up and read that one. 

PRISCILLA [00:44:28] Mm-hm. Yeah, I think that’s the beauty of…I mean, again, that’s what I tell my students: If you’re, even if you’re writing a series, you hope your hope is or your goal should be that anybody could pick up any book in the series and feel like they’ve got a complete read, but they also are introduced to characters that are in other books, and then they fall for those characters and want to go back and read the other books, you know? So hopefully, you know, that’s, that’s what we work towards typically anyway. I think she does it. 

ANA [00:44:58] Now, you have a book on your rec list that is on my TBR. I’ve been meaning to read it and I really should this summer, it’s Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson. 

PRISCILLA [00:45:07] Yes, yes. Yes, yes. 

ANA [00:45:10] Tell me about it. Tell me why I need to pick it up other than that I’m a knitter.

PRISCILLA [00:45:12] Oh, she does. Other than that, you’re a knitter, are you a knitter? 

ANA [00:45:17] Oh, I’m a serious knitter. 

PRISCILLA [00:45:18] I’m totally not a knitter. I learned to knit because I was in a play and I had to play a person, someone who knitted. I learned how for that play and I had this long scarf by the time I was done better, the play was over and I put it aside and I have not gone back. But Real Men Knit, is book one in Kwana’s new series featuring the Strong Brothers. And there are four foster brothers and their foster mom had, Mama Joy, she has passed away, but she has run this knitting shop in Harlem. And so, when the book opens, Mama Joy passed away and two of the brothers want to sell, one is on the fence, and then you have Jesse who the only things he’s ever been, you know, that you could count on was that he was devoted to Mama Joy and that he was good at, he was a player. 

ANA [00:46:11] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:46:12] And, you know, and Jesse decides that he wants to keep the, he wants to keep the store open. And that’s when Kerry Girl is her nickname. But Kerry, you know family friend, grew up in the community, part-time worker at the, at the Knitting Shop has had a longtime crush: enter the  friends to lovers tope. A longtime secret crush with Jesse. And so it’s, they’re good at the slow burn. And then also, Jesse hasn’t, you know, has to deal with some of his brothers, you know, want to protect Kerry because they’ve always seen her as like a younger sister. So, so they’re also then, like, hot trying to hide part of their relationship. So a little bit of a secret, you know, relationship as… 

ANA [00:47:00] Forbidden trope, a little bit right? 

PRISCILLA [00:47:02] Yeah, a little bit of that forbidden trope. And what I love about it is while all of the bull, all of the brothers are like hunky, hunky, hunky. 

[00:47:11] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:47:11] She’s working on Lucas’s book right now, that’s book two, and he is Korean American. And I’m huge into K-dramas right now. I cannot wait for Lucas to come out, but that’s book two. This one friends to lovers, let me stay on target. Is just this slow burn I love but also, you know, like in our books, in our Latinx, we talk about comunidad, right? 

ANA [00:47:36] Mm-hm. Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:47:36] That is right. There’s family, right. I have the tias that I called tia and they’re not, they’re not my aunts, right, by blood. Right? But, but they’re my aunts, they’re my tias. 

ANA [00:47:44] Mm-hm. 

[00:47:46] And Kwana does the same thing. She has, she has created this comunidad–this community–in Harlem of people, young kids that come and take many classes there. The older ladies that were Mama Joy’s close circle of friends who want to band together to help Jesse to keep the store open. And so, it’s this, it’s this romance between Jesse and Kerry, but it’s also the four foster brothers who the one person that brought them together, the reason why they’re “brothers” is because of Mama Joy she’s not she’s not there anymore. But they want to honor her and, you know, and they are brothers. And then, you know, the community around them and how the shop affects, whether it stays open, whether or close, how it how it affects them. So I just feel she’s done a beautiful job drawing me into that community and seeing that community. 

ANA [00:48:40] Now, you give a, a little bit of goosebumps, because right now it’s somebody who loves the knitting community. We know that a lot of little shops are struggling because everybody is closed, right? 

PRISCILLA [00:48:49] Mm-hm. 

ANA [00:48:49] And people who used to gather in a communal place missing that time together, that that meeting points. I’m like, I definitely have to read that. 

PRISCILLA [00:48:58] Yes, yes, yes, yes. 

[00:48:59] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:49:02] So and the title that, the cover is super cute: It’s a, it’s a guy and he’s, you don’t see the guy’s face at all. It’s like as if the camera is his face and he’s looking down at his lap, he’s got his knee bent you know, one leg, knee bent crooked on the other knee and he’s knitting. So you see his big boot and. Knitting and then actually the UK covers super cute, too, because it’s got Jesse and Kerry a different knit balls of yarn on opposite quarters of the, and the figures that they drew are super, are super cute. You’re like, “yes, that, that is so Jesse!” So the covers are cute. What’s inside on the page really draws me in. It’s a good, to me, a great example of the friends to lovers. 

ANA [00:49:50] Yeah. Yeah. You had on your list Playing House by Ruby Lang. 

PRISCILLA [00:49:56] Mm-hm. 

ANA [00:49:56] I love Ruby. I’ve also, I beta read the second book in the series, the one where the Latina realtor falls for… 

PRISCILLA [00:50:06] Okay. I bought the box set so I haven’t gotten there yet. 

ANA [00:50:09] Oh yeah. Well that one’s great. That’s, that’s an enemies to lovers. But Playing House is, I really loved it. I read it on my way to RWA last year, mostly because like I was gonna go see Ruby and I wanted to be like, yes, I’d actually read the book. And it was so cool. I mean, it’s basically these two people, they’ve known each other through friends, but, you know, they’re like friends of friends kind of thing, like, you know each other. And when there’s a house tour and they both love architecture and he’s standing there, he sort of notices her and thinks like, “Oh, I sort of know her.” And she comes up and pretends, lays one on him and pretends, uh, that he’s her boyfriend.

PRISCILLA [00:50:55] Yes. 

ANA [00:50:55] Because she you’ve been on this tour and this other person’s been hassling her and just won’t leave her alone. So, she decides the only way to get this guy off of her is to like, have the boyfriend there. 

PRISCILLA [00:51:04] Yes. Yes. 

ANA [00:51:05] And they spend the rest of the afternoon looking at houses together as a pretend couple, and they sort of liking doing that. And they have so much more in common. And I love that element, that sort of fake relationship. But they’ve built a friendship through this fake relationship. 

PRISCILLA [00:51:25] I, I have to, I’ll say and this is when we talked a little bit before. 

ANA [00:51:30] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:51:30] I read the like the opening chapters of this and this is a novella. 

ANA [00:51:34] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:51:34] Or it’s a shorter book. 

ANA [00:51:36] It’s a shorter book, yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:51:37] So it is a shorter book, but so I have not gotten to their HEA yet. But when Fay comes up and it opens in Oliver’s point of view and already I’m like, “Yeah, I’m down for this.”

[00:51:49] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:51:49] Oliver, it seems to me that he is going to be he’s beta, maybe cinnamon roll hero, which I am all about. Give me a cinnamon roll hero any day. And for just to be clear, because I’ve had people be like, “What the hell is a cinnamon roll hero?” So, a cinnamon roll hero is like maybe a little crispy on the outside, but soft and gooey and yummy, lovable on the inside. But Oliver, right away, like he’s when he’s when, when that guy that’s hassling them comes up and is like, “Yeah, this is really your boyfriend?” Oliver, Oliver’s thinking, “Well, this is a big guy…so I might not be able to take him on, on my own, but, but Fay beside him, Fay and I? We can take him.” And so right off the bat, he’s thinking that they’re a team. 

ANA [00:52:40] Exactly. And he doesn’t mind if she leads a little, you know. Because that’s OK, that’s OK. That’s not a threat to him. And they both have a lot of emotional stuff to untangle. I think you’ll if you keep deeper in the box, I mean, one of the things I love about Ruby is that she is able to make these very small moments really meaningful in where people have a lot of history, right? We are untangling our feelings about our parents for untangling our feelings about our career. Fay, I believe it’s like recently divorced. So there’s all this baggage that everybody carries around. But that’s how we are as normal people, right? So, yeah, a little interaction. We’ll have a different weight. And they both. Find themselves while they find themselves looking for a place for places to live, and loving architecture, and all that. 

PRISCILLA [00:53:38] I’m excited for more of that even because just in the beginning, the descriptions about like when, when all was talking about. Okay, so if they if they start wrestling with this guy, they’re going to mess up this kind of wood, and they’re going to mess up this kind of banister. And I am not a construction person, so I would have to do a ton of work to describe the the rails on, my, my that’s some of the research I do with writing my own books, if it’s if I need to get into that. But I’m excited to read more. I feel like I’m getting ready to enjoy continue enjoying a romance well written because Ruby wrote it, but also like getting, getting to do a virtual tour parade of homes, know over which I can’t do it because it corona too. Because I don’t live in New York. But I, I love, I loved you doing those creative home things. One of the things I enjoyed doing as an author is going house hunting for my characters when they are like, I want to live in Jeremy’s flat, like his condo in downtown Chicago. Jeremy, will you Airbnb that for me. Jeremy in Her Perfect Affair. 

ANA [00:54:49] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:54:50] And I want to have drinks on his parents, uh, rooftop patio over sunset, please. So, I feel like Ruby’s going to give me a little a little taste of a parade of homes in New York with these lovable characters at the same time. 

ANA [00:55:08] You really feel like you’re right there with them, whether they’re discussing closet length and how rare apartment layouts. I’m somebody like, my father was into real estate and then my sister and I, we we’ve grown up with that. So, whenever we’re in a new area, we’re always like on Zillow, like, “Oh, what do the houses go for here?” Like, I’ve lived in my house for 13 years. I do not want to move, but I love looking. 

PRISCILLA [00:55:33] Yeah. 

ANA [00:55:34] Just because I think it tells us something about how people live, what the people value, what kind of homes they have. So yeah, it’s a lot of fun. 

PRISCILLA [00:55:44] Okay, good. 

ANA [00:55:44] Like a virtual home tours there and playing house. 

[00:55:48] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:55:48] Yes. So that’s the book one in her Uptown series. 

ANA [00:55:53] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:55:53] And like, like I said, I got it as a boxset, right? You know. 

ANA [00:55:59] If you read them, if you read them all together, you will see like you really get to know the community that they’re in because there’s Internal connections. But you could be any of them can also be picked up individually and you just can get a lot of fun. 

PRISCILLA [00:56:13] Nice, nice, nice. 

ANA [00:56:14] Now there’s another book on your list. Do you want to share a little bit with us about it? 

PRISCILLA [00:56:19] Sure! I don’t know. I didn’t know how, how much time we have. 

ANA [00:56:21] We’re about to wrap up, so. 

PRISCILLA [00:56:23] OK. Well, this I like. 

ANA [00:56:25] Or do you have an a different one that you want to do as your last book? We can always do that too. 

PRISCILLA [00:56:29] Yeah. No, this one’s good bye, Tracey. This new in this latest by it’s by Tracey Livesey. And it’s called Like Lovers Do. And this is again, so funny. If I look at the list of friends, the lovers and fake relationship. I’m like, how many? Because that, that is… 

ANA [00:56:44] I love those tropes, so it works for me. 

PRISCILLA [00:56:46] Yeah. So, so Mia’s was, was both. And so in Ruby’s fake relationship and friends to lovers. But this one Tracey series I think it’s so interesting is kind of based off of, she has a really good, amigas-hermanas is what we would say. So like sister friend group from college that they go every, every year, they meet for a get together somewhere. And Tracey’s, in real life, and so Tracey’s series is kind of based off of that four good friends that have known each other for years. And so, this is book two. But the same way is, how we were just talking about Ruby’s, you can read book too, and you don’t need to read book one. This one, so her series is called Girls Trip. And this one features the friends are the heroine is a doctor. She’s like this accomplished surgeon, but she’s in the running for this for like a fellowship and she reprimands somebody at work and it’s like an intern, I think he is…I think it is. And it happens, the kid happens to be the son of a really powerful donor. So, she’s worried that it’s going to affect whether or not she’s going to get that fellowship. And the hero who they’ve been friends for a long time, his name is Benjamin. Let me look at my notes because again, I’m like, I don’t mess up his name. But anyway, Ben is the hero and he is like the black sheep in his family. Instead of going into their business, he kind of started his own. 

ANA [00:58:19] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:58:19] Which to me, I always because familia is so important to me, like in my day, in my life. So as a reader, I look for those family connections and I already of like, “Oh my gosh, pobrecito.”

[00:58:32] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:58:33] Because he feels he’s outcast in the familia. 

ANA [00:58:36] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [00:58:36] They’re not Latino at all. I just add that my in my head. 

[00:58:41] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:58:41] But so anyway, poor, poor thing. So, I’m already wanting him to like, hurry up and get through your character arc so that you can be part of your familia. Yeah, so he’s totally not ready to get married or anything like that. And he’s and he’s kind of telling himself when the time comes, it’s not going to be someone who is, like, married to her job already, like Nicole. 

ANA [00:59:05] I love that. I love that. I love the whenever it’s not going to be because it’s like, oh, buckle up. 

PRISCILLA [00:59:12] Yes. You know that as a reader, as soon as they say, “Oh, yeah, I’m not gonna.” You’re like, okay, let me turn the page, because you’re going to find that you are. 

[00:59:22] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [00:59:22] So, yes. So sure enough. And then like the fake relationship shows, shows that because he’s got an ex that kind of gets back in the in the picture and there they get to go to Martha’s Vineyard again, a place I’ve never been. So I love visiting [inaudible] in Tracey’s book because I can pretend that I’ve been there now. 

ANA [00:59:42] Mm-hm. 

PRISCILLA [00:59:42] So Nic, um, Nicole the heroine, agrees to like pretend to be his fake girlfriend while they go on this this trip to Martha’s Vineyard for a week on the condition that or like in the condition that she’s going to do this for him and what she wants him to do is talk to his family and see if they can put in a good word to help her with her with the fellowship. 

ANA [01:00:06] Yeah, yeah. 

PRISCILLA [01:00:07] So they’re just going in fakey fakey, right? 

[01:00:10] <laughter> 

PRISCILLA [01:00:10] But we all know that when you are going on vacation and your fake relationship and it’s not going to be so fake for long. 

ANA [01:00:21] Not at all. 

PRISCILLA [01:00:22] Yeah and Tracey, just, you know, I think like all of the authors that we talked about, great emotion characters that you can root for, you know, like Ben, super, super sexy. And I mean, are, are you told your own swooning over him. 

ANA [01:00:40] Yeah. 

PRISCILLA [01:00:40] So it’s definitely one I was going to say you can you can get soon, but again and while by the time this airs, it’s out. 

ANA [01:00:48] Yeah. By the time the fares will be linked to our show notes and people can just click on it and have an insta buy and support the fabulous authors. 

PRISCILLA [01:00:57] Yes. Yes. 

ANA [01:00:59] Priscilla, thank you so much. Muchisimas gracias. It’s fantastico. I’ve had so much fun talking to you. 

PRISCILLA [01:01:06] En prima encanta. I always enjoy, I think it’s always fun, it’s a fun way to catch up. 

ANA [01:01:11] Yeah, we’ll definitely have to try to do it again. Maybe you do, maybe you open up my third season. 

PRISCILLA [01:01:16] Oh, hey, that was such a such a strange coincidence. 

ANA [01:01:21] Yeah. Our we, our listeners…right before we open our producer, let us know that we rec’ed Her Perfect Affair, on our first podcast of the year last year when we premiered. So we just sort of worked out because originally you were gonna talk to me in the summer before we took a big break because of the pandemic. So I just it’s just sort of fun. 

[01:01:44] <laughter> 

ANA [01:01:44] Thank you for starting off the season with us. 

PRISCILLA [01:01:46] Encantada. I mean, [inaudible]…I mean, thank you for…I’m like talkin’ all Spanish here, sorry. I appreciate the invitation. It’s always a pleasure to come and talk about the books we love, the authors we love. I think that’s one thing I enjoy is kind of giving a shout out to fellow authors. We know how hard it can be writing our books and putting them out in the world for readers hoping that they love them, our characters is as much as we do. So when we can, when we can boost someone else, It’s, it’s something I enjoy doing. 

ANA [01:02:20] And that’s something that’s part of our mission here at RomBkPod. It’s about the books that you love. You know, there’s lots of stuff that’s wrong in Romancelandia, and we can’t control that. But we can control about the books that are worth celebrating, the books that we want people to love. And basically, we’re here to celebrate the diversity of our community and in our books. So thank you so much for being such a big Latinx romance supporter and a supporter of diverse formats generally. 

PRISCILLA [01:02:50] Thank you. I enjoy, I enjoy it. Like I said, just talking about the things that we love. And I’m humbled and I’m proud to be a part of our community. 

ANA [01:03:00] Thank you.