To take her mind off of a bad break up and the impending gentrification of her neighborhood, Val Navarro heads out to a club for a night of dancing and forgetfulness. There, she meets the handsome Philip, a man who happens to be sexy, sweet, and nerdy all at the same time. They hit it off, spending the evening talking until the sun rises. Could he be any more perfect? Actually… no. Philip turns out to be Philip Wagner, heir apparent and lead designer for Wagner Enterprises – the very company who is buying out her neighborhood and evicting her community. But the betrayal doesn’t stop the want. Nor does Philip’s insistence that he’s not his father or his father’s company. It is, in all ways… A Delicious Dilemma.
Like a decadent tres leches cake, A Delicious Dilemma by debut author Sera Taino is a book you both want to savor and devour in one go. @serataino is also one of us. An author who came from fandom, specifically Hunger Games and MCU fandoms, where she wrote amazing and memorable works underneath the name @titaniasfics here on tumblr but also on Ao3 and FF.net. And now she can add published by one of the big 5 to her list of credits.
The language in this book is gorgeous, decadent, full of tantalizing descriptions that can make your heart ache and your mouth water. I could practically taste the food from the in depth descriptions. I also appreciated that for much of the book, the Spanish wasn’t translated but instead was either simple enough to be understood by anyone or could be figured out from context. This is how it should be done. I also loved the casual LGBT+ and non-Latinx representation in this book. Etienne is a bi and Black Haitian. Another character is a lesbian. A+ representation and inclusion. It made the book feel real.
I found the main characters well rounded and complex. There were layers to them. Val was both competent and caring, and I appreciated that her backstory influenced her lack of trust – which was her fatal flaw and one of the biggest obstacles to the relationship. I liked that she was the older sister and what that meant in her family. I also appreciated how much and how important her Puerto Rican heritage was to the story – which is honestly not a surprise when you consider that the author is also Latinx. She wasn’t perfect, and she had a hardness to her that I liked. Because underneath that hardness was a soft vulnerable interior. I can relate to that. LOL.
I really really liked Philip as a lead character. I have a thing for beta heroes in romance, and Philip is a delightful cinnamon roll. I could understand his reluctance to reveal his identity… because being judged for things you have no control over sucks – and he really has no control over who he is related to. I also appreciated his honesty and how quickly he chose to come clean. In a lot of romances/stories like this, the person keeping the secret never comes clean until they are outed. I felt it made the romance stronger. I also liked that he owned his mistake and tried to make it right with varying degrees of success. He’s such a good doobie that I want to snuggle him to my breast and go for a ride in his Alfa Romeo.
The overarching thread of the gentrification of Val’s neighborhood was handled well… and in a way I wanted more of it. While there aren’t any dropped threads, I do feel that the ending was rushed a bit more than I liked. Honestly, I wanted more of the story over all. I wanted to see Val and Philip geek out more over Star Wars. I wanted to see more of Philip coming into his own as a leader of his company. I just wanted more. In all, this is a solid debut novel from an author I hope to see more from. Four Stars
If this is your jam, you can get it here.
I received an ARC of this book from the author. Opinions expressed are my own.