It was a full year ago when I read You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria, and I ended up really loving it. The first in her Primas of Power series, I was excited to read the second installment. Now A Lot Like Adiós is finally out, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first one, maybe even more.
|A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria|
|Series||Primas of Power (#2)|
|Setting||New York and California, USA|
|Format I Read||Paperback|
|Number of Pages||385|
|Original Publication Date||September 14, 2021|
The national bestselling author of You Had Me at Hola returns with a seductive second-chance romance about a commitment-phobic Latina and her childhood best friend who has finally returned home.
Hi Mich. It’s Gabe.
After burning out in her corporate marketing career, Michelle Amato has built a thriving freelance business as a graphic designer. So what if her love life is nonexistent? She’s perfectly fine being the black sheep of her marriage-obsessed Puerto Rican-Italian family. Besides, the only guy who ever made her want happily-ever-after disappeared thirteen years ago.
It’s been a long time.
Gabriel Aguilar left the Bronx at eighteen to escape his parents’ demanding expectations, but it also meant saying goodbye to Michelle, his best friend and longtime crush. Now, he’s the successful co-owner of LA’s hottest celebrity gym, with an investor who insists on opening a New York City location. It’s the last place in the world Gabe wants to go, but when Michelle is unexpectedly brought on board to spearhead the new marketing campaign, everything Gabe’s been running from catches up with him.
I’ve missed you.
Michelle is torn between holding Gabe at arm’s length or picking up right where they left off—in her bed. As they work on the campaign, old feelings resurface and their reunion takes a sexy turn. Facing mounting pressure from their families—who think they’re dating—and growing uncertainty about their futures, can they resolve their past mistakes, or is it only a matter of time before Gabe says adiós again?
In You Had Me at Hola, Jasmine’s cousin Michelle was one of the side characters, one of her Primas of Power. Michelle takes center stage in A Lot Like Adiós, though her cousins Jasmine and Ava are still important here, too.
Michelle is a fun character. She’s smart, creative, funny, and ambitious. She also forgives fairly easily, but is prone to hiding her true emotions with jokes and distractions. Michelle has a realistic balance of characteristics, preventing her from feeling one-dimensional or fake. She’s like a real-life woman you could be friends with or work alongside.
Gabe isn’t quite so easy-going, though. He’s careful and hardworking, and he’s built a successful gym that’s about to expand to the opposite coast. But he can be defensive and dramatic, and he has a major habit of running away from his problems instead of addressing them directly. Indeed, that’s how he ended up losing his best friend – Michelle – 13 years ago and became estranged from most of his family.
A Lot Like Adiós pulls in a few great romance tropes: second chances, friends-to-lovers, even some fake dating. For 12 years, Gabe and Michelle grew up together and became best friends. Living next door to each other helped, and they spent all of their time together. If they had romantic interest in each other, they didn’t directly say so. After finishing high school, though, Gave up and left without a glance back, and he and Michelle haven’t spoken since.
When Gabe is suddenly back in New York on business, and working with Michelle no less, they have an opportunity to reconnect and maybe rekindle what they once had. There’s a lot to unpack, but the spark between them is clearly still there. Pretty quickly, they explore what a physical relationship between them can be like. At the same time, they’re becoming friends again. Are they friends with benefits? Just a temporary fling until Gabe goes back to California? They don’t know and they struggle to talk about it. But they can’t keep Gabe’s return a secret forever, and before they know it, they’re pretending to date so their families don’t figure out why he’s really back in New York.
Like You Had Me at Hola, A Lot Like Adiós breaks up the chapters with occasional extra content. In the previous book, that came in the form of scene snippets from Carmen in Charge, the show in which Jasmine and Ashton were acting. Here, we get to see the 15-year-old online chats between Gabe and Michelle as they plotted a fan fiction they were writing during high school. It’s fun to see their teenaged conversations, but they also provide some insight into their friendship and the struggle Gabe was facing at home. They don’t slow down the main story at all; in fact, they help make Gabe and Michelle’s relationship matter that much more.
At its core, A Lot Like Adiós is a romance, but it also weaves in other elements. The whole reason Gabe and Michelle have reconnected is because of their careers. Gabe’s gym is expanding, and Michelle is the marketing consultant to help the New York branch be a success. We get to see them work together a bit, but a lot of the career growth comes at the end. It’s great to see how Michelle decides to stop holding herself back and make a brave and empowered career move. Gabe’s journey is a bit harder, requiring a step or two back before he can move forward again. I like that Michelle and Gabe are both ambitious and have a level of fulfillment from their respective careers.
Family is another important element here. Coming from Latinx families, Michelle and Gabe’s families are big, tight-knit, and all up in each other’s business. Much of Gabe’s past trauma – and why he left New York all those years ago – is due to a rift between himself and his parents. It can be hard, especially as a teenager, when your parents don’t seem to get you and your dreams, or are too harsh on you. For Gabe, the solution was to remove himself from the situation entirely. But when is a relationship too toxic to save? When is it worth salvaging? Can people grow and learn to treat each other better? I love the family dynamics and the changes we get to see in A Lot Like Adiós.
I haven’t really talked about the diversity in this novel, yet. As with the first in the series, A Lot Like Adiós highlights Latinx characters and biracial characters. Gabe and Michelle are both half Puerto Rican, but Gabe is also half Mexican, whereas Michelle is half Italian. As such, they and their families are bilingual. Further, Gabe and Michelle are both bisexual. I was excited to learn that before I started reading, though I do wish there’d been more examination of their bisexuality. It was mentioned briefly, but it didn’t seem to impact this story or the characters’ respective histories.
One final thing I appreciated about A Lot Like Adiós is that neither Gabe nor Michelle has any intention of marrying. So many romances push the starring couple to settle down, get married, and start a family. But here, I sense that Michelle and Gabe would be content to date long-term. No wedding bells, no kids. And they would be perfectly happy with that. Marriage and kids aren’t for everyone, and it’s great to see that people can be in love and committed to each other without needing to add to their relationship.
A Lot Like Adiós is a wonderful follow-up to You Had Me at Hola, featuring characters that are just as strong and lovable and a story arc that is just as real and heartwarming. So far, I am loving this Primas of Power series, and I look forward to reading Ava’s story next year.
About the Author
Alexis Daria writes stories about successful Latinx characters and their (occasionally messy) familias. Her debut novel, Take the Lead, was a RITA Award winner for Best First Book, and You Had Me at Hola, the first book in her Primas of Power series, is a national bestseller. Alexis is a lifelong New Yorker who loves Broadway musicals and pizza.