Hello friends, today I’m sharing my review of Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera, a queer Christmas foodie novella. As soon as I heard about this book I just knew I had to pick it up. And pals? It did not disappoint. Let’s get into my review of Mangos and Mistletoe.
Publisher: Self published
Genre: LGBT contemporary adult romance
Length: 152 pages
Source: Paperback received from subscription
Link: Book Depository
Spice Rating: 🌶🌶🌶
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.
Content warnings: negative response to someones coming out by their family
In a few words:
A hate to love F/F Christmas novella set in Edinburgh featuring two women from the Dominican Republic with major Great British Bake Off vibes
My Review of Mangos and Mistletoe
Told in dual perspective, we follow two women from the Dominican Republic who enter the esteemed Hollywood Baking Challenge and head to Scotland to compete for the highly sought after championship.
Kiskeya, who moved from the Dominican Republic to America three years ago, has been hustling in kitchens trying to get noticed and make a career ever since. For her, winning this competition means everything. Not only would it open doors for her in helping her achieve her dreams, it would also solidify her status in America.
Due to how much Kiskeya needs this win, she can’t help but fret over her potential partner, the fact that she might be paired up with someone completely incompetent or worse, someone perky and chatty who thought might want to make friends.
Enter Sully, a “hurricane of brown curls, tartan and perfectly shaped burgundy lips.”
Sully wears her heart on her sleeve with her emotions clear to see in her face. She talks a lot, and disarms Kiskeya from the moment they meet, who is almost her opposite in the way that she is more reserved and cautious. Also from the Dominican, Sully has been the carer in her family since her father’s death and her mother’s accident at work, which meant her dreams got put on the back-burner. Entering this competition allows Sully to get back in touch with her passion and potentially take care of her family at the same time.
From the moment they meet the two are inexplicably drawn to one another. As soon as Kiskeya sees Sully her first thought is “fuck me”, while Kiskeya is Sully’s “every fantasy.” I was rooting for them IMMEDIATELY.
“When I looked at her with her hair down now, honey-coloured curls flying in the afternoon breeze, her face golden from the setting sun, I knew I’d have to work very hard not to get carried away by this girl.”
The two get paired up with one another for the baking challenge, and Kiskeya’s worries about getting distracted from the competition mean that at first she’s standoffish. Sully notices Kiskeya’s reaction and starts to tease her, whilst also wondering what’s going on.
Despite Kiskeya trying so hard to be grumpy and remain focussed, she is undeniably affected by Sully which totally throws her off her game. Like the fact that she keeps getting caught checking out Sully’s chest!!! There was the classic grumpy character vs the sunshine character trope and I was living for it.
They’re sent to a castle where they will stay for the duration of the competition. When they arrive the production team announce everyone is sharing a suite with their partner with separate beds but turns out…. there was ONLY ONE BED.
“In that moment I knew the entire castle could’ve crumbled around us, and I would have been helpless to unlock my gaze from hers.”
While Kiskeya is more reserved with her feelings at first, as the two get to know one another better they can’t deny their attraction, respect one another and enjoy each other’s company.
Now we really gotta talk about the smut. THE SMUT. Phewwww this book was hot, hotter than I was anticipating, and I am not mad about it. In this short novella there are three to four explicit scenes and they were executed very well in my humble opinion. I need more of this couple together. But before we get to the smut there is such good build up. Almost kisses! And so much sexual tension!!!
In the beginning Kiskeya is annoyed that they put the two people from the Dominican Republic together, as if it’s some kind of trope for the show’s ratings, and refuses to make any Dominican inspired bakes. Sully on the other hand is almost offended by Kiskeya’s view; she doesn’t want to downplay her culture for anyone. Throughout the story we come to realise that there is more to Kiskeya’s reluctance than initially anticipated, which is tied to her complicated relationship with the Dominican Republic.
“I imagined us as little bits of soil, of earth, from the same place that had been picked up and scattered, and now were here, blending back together. Finding each other so far from where we’d come from.”
One of the things I loved most about this book, aside from the romance of course, is the fact that the story is set in Scotland. Edinburgh is one of my favourite places in the world. Even just thinking about the beautiful and historic city makes me feel all warm inside, and this book just amplified that! Kiskeya is an absolute sucker for Scotland and reading about the character’s excitement about this visit was just so magical. I would love to have read more about the characters touring the city, particularly their high tea experience and trip around Edinburgh castle but I can totally appreciate that this was just a novella!
I knew going into the story that it was LGBT, but there was also a lot of other representation, which while I can’t comment on the accuracy I was still pleased to see! There were other queer characters, and also Black, Japanese, Scandinavian and Central American characters, as well as Dominican of course.
Even though this was a novella at just over 120 pages, alongside all of the romance and quality smut, there were also important discussions around toxic masculinity and sexuality. Particularly how Kiskeya felt her gay uncle was more accepted by her family than she was, because being a lesbian meant that “there was no use for a man in any way”.
My only issue, alongside my wish that the book was longer, was that there was a little bit of girl hate as one character says “because basic bitches will be basic bitches” about some of their competitors. However, it wasn’t dwelled upon and I could overlook it and continue to enjoy the story.
Thank you so much for reading my review of Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera. If you’re looking for a sweet but steamy diverse LGBTQ+ novella with Great British Bake Off vibes and a hate to love trope, you NEED to read this book!