REVIEW: Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera
Kiskeya Burgos left the tropical beaches of the Dominican Republic with a lot to prove. As a pastry chef on the come up, when she arrives in Scotland, she has one goal in mind: win the Holiday Baking Challenge. Winning is her opportunity to prove to her family, her former boss, and most importantly herself, she can make it in the culinary world. Kiskeya will stop at nothing to win, that is, if she can keep her eyes on the prize and off her infuriating teammate’s perfect lips.
Sully Morales, home cooking hustler, and self-proclaimed baking brujita lands in Scotland on a quest to find her purpose after spending years as her family’s caregiver. But now, with her home life back on track, it’s time for Sully to get reacquainted with her greatest love, baking. Winning the Holiday Baking Challenge is a no brainer if she can convince her grumpy AF baking partner that they make a great team both in and out of the kitchen before an unexpected betrayal ends their chance to attain culinary competition glory.
Dear Ms. Herrera,
Another one of our reviewers has read two of your other books but when I saw this gorgeous cover and realized it is a Christmas themed story, it seemed perfect for me to try it now.
The plot is (loosely) based on baking contest shows and set in Scotland in a castle. I’m with Sully about being excited AF about that locale. The GBBS tent is world renowned now but yeah I’d rather bake inside a building and during cooler weather. Plus – Scottish castle! The challenge themes are all Christmasy though Sully and Kiskeya do sneak a challah bread loaf wreath in. Winning means a lot to Sully as it proves her skill and half the prize will let her do more to set up her own baking business back home in New York City. But for Kiskeya it would mean a chance to train for a year with one of the top pastry chefs in the US allowing her to get her visa – which will expire in the spring – extended. Without that, she’ll have to return home to the Dominican Republic.
From the get-go, Kiskeya and Sully start to clash. Sully is a more easy going, bubbly woman who lets life happen while Kiskeya left home after college, has lived alone since then, and worked damn hard to get a chance in LA. She’s left the toxic masculinity of home and parents who aren’t that supportive of her sexuality then had to deal with some chefs who weren’t happy when she tried to insert her home flavors as twists on “the classics.” So when the producers pair her with Sully who then starts loudly proclaiming how they’ll put a DR spin and flavors into their challenges, Kiskeya can’t help but be – vocally – worried.
Sully knows when she’s being checked out and this uptight Dominicana is definitely doing that. She doesn’t mind as she’s doing the same and imagining kissing those kissable lips but Kiskeya’s initial standoffishness is annoying and rude. If her partner wants to stick totally to the job at hand, Sully will show her that she might be an amateur but she’s a damn good baker, too. She will, however, insist on her share of decision making and that will include Caribbean flavors whether Kiskeya wants them or not. They start off well but will they be able to keep their hands off each other as they fight for baking glory?
I liked the opposites attract aspect to the story. Each woman has her reasons to want to win and once they start working together on their culinary creations, my mouth was watering to try them. There was enough cooking detail to show that both of them knew their way around a kitchen without this overwhelming the romance. Their different home lives and families also displayed their pride and love for their homeland as well as showing the variances to be found. But while Sully’s family accepts her sexual preference, Kiskeya has fought with her parents while watching – in frustration for her own situation – her gay uncle and his sexual partner have some degree of acceptance.
The sex is hot – to the point that the partners do something that was needed for the plot while also making them look stupid in the competition. Yes getting back to the hotel for some smoking time in bed is great but honestly to do what they did was mind bogglingly dumb. Unfortunately I felt that these two still had a lot of communication to work on. When the final conflict arrives, Kiskeya finally tells Sully something that is vital to her future. Okay so maybe it’s something that Kiskeya hadn’t thought Sully needed to know but that just shows that these two are still in the very early stages of a relationship. This novella definitely needed its epilogue.
I enjoyed Kiskeya’s professionalism and drive to display her hard won skills while breezy Sully is a delight to watch charming everyone. The resolution is heartfelt and all works out plus there’s a nice “year later” epilogue to show how everything has come together for them. B-
Right now this one is on sale!