June is Read Caribbean Month, and my first choice was the newly released A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book for months, so as soon as my pre-order arrived, I dove in. This is the first in the Las Léonas trilogy, and I already look forward to reading the next two, because this was wonderful.
It’s spring 1889, and Luz Alana Heith-Benzan has just arrived in Paris. Following her father’s death a year ago, she has taken control of the family rum business, and she’s looking to expand beyond her Dominican home and into Europe. Unfortunately, businessmen don’t take her seriously, so sales are drying up. That, coupled with her inheritance being tied up, has left Luz and her 10-year-old sister in a tough spot. The answer to all her problems could come in the form of James Evanston Sinclair – Evan to his friends – who just happens to be an Earl. He’s having some inheritance problems of his own, and striking the right deal with Luz could solve his issues as well as hers. A marriage of convenience is strictly business, right?
You have no idea how hyped I was for A Caribbean Heiress in Paris. Even though the only Adriana Herrera works I’ve read are an essay in Black Love Matters and her novella The Duke Makes Me Feel…, I could just feel that this novel would become a new favorite for me.
Up until now, most historical romance I’ve read have starred characters who are white (generally English, Scottish, or American) and straight. I’m eager to see more diversity in this sub-genre, and A Caribbean Heiress in Paris is a wonderful place to start. Luz Alana is a biracial, Latinx woman. The next two books will also star Latinas, at least one of whom will have a relationship with another woman. And as with the author’s aforementioned novella, this book doesn’t shy away from addressing social issues.
The biggest hurdle Luz faces is simply that she is a woman. Men don’t want to work with her; they only want to work with other men. Even her inheritance is locked up, and getting a husband may be the only recourse to obtain it. Luz pushes against the constraints on women, striving to succeed in expanding her business and, moreover, in catering to an untapped market: women.
There is also some discussion of colonialism and racism. Evan’s family has some shoddy history in that department, but he faces it head-on and is willing to understand Luz’s perspective. I appreciate that he wants to give respect to those who have been exploited and that he wants to improve and do better.
I was surprised at how much A Caribbean Heiress in Paris focuses on the business side of things. Luz and Evan frequently discuss her plans for her rum business, strategies to secure new buyers, ways to market her new product to the right people – it’s fascinating and adds a lot of depth to the story. Indeed, her job and business play a central role throughout the novel. It’s not just a backdrop to get two people together; it’s a core part of her character and of the book’s plot. I love that this story highlights such a smart and ambitious woman.
Family is another prominent element, especially for Evan. He’s very close to his siblings: an older brother he recently learned about, two sisters, and his sister’s children. He’s a devoted brother and uncle, and he wants to honor his mother’s memory. The biggest issue Evan faces is his father, a singularly evil man, even compared to the many historical romance dads I’ve read about in other books. He’s quite a piece of work, and it’s no wonder Evan wants to take him down.
Luz and Evan are both such wonderful characters. Luz Alana is a nice mixture of hard (fierce, opinionated, business-minded, tenacious… has a gun) and soft (cries easily, cares deeply for her sister and lost family members, fears heartbreak). She feels real and nuanced, with complicated, evolving emotions. Evan is also a total cinnamon roll. He falls into the trap of many romance men: He’s big. Just a tall, burly man. But he’s also sweet, and despite his reputation as a careless womanizer, he instantly comes across as someone who is very caring, honorable, and reliable. He always lifts up Luz and gives her a stage to shine on, which I love.
The two of them have excellent chemistry. Evan pushes Luz’s buttons sometimes, but it’s all harmless fun. When it matters, he always defends her and gives her support. Though the first part of the book spans only a few days, their relationship feels realistic. Their business needs and mutual attraction push them together, sure, but they develop a deeper bond, too. There’s a great amount of balance between the different elements that make for a strong relationship. I just love seeing Evan and Luz together!
One of my favorite scenes involves Luz and Evan discussing Pride and Prejudice. I adore a good literary conversation, especially when it’s about fiction by women. (See also: the discussion of Wuthering Heights in Evie Dunmore’s Portrait of a Scotsman.)
I also noticed a fun easter egg: Duchess Linley, a Caribbean woman who has an apothecary and provides birth control to her clients. Read The Duke Makes Me Feel… and you’ll see what I mean!
I’ll reel it back in now. Suffice to say, I loved A Caribbean Heiress in Paris! Half of it took place in Paris and the other half in Scotland, two places I’d like to visit. I enjoyed spending time the leading couple as well as their friends and family. Manuela and Aurora will both have their HEAs in the next two books of the series, so I look forward to getting to know them better. Both of their romances seems to be foreshadowed here. Manuela’s partner in book #2 is confirmed, and I have a hunch who Aurora will get with in book #3…
A Caribbean Heiress in Paris is a delightful novel: thoughtful, smart, full of feeling, and absolutely swoony. It’s everything I’d hoped it would be, and I can’t wait to continue the Las Léonas series with Manuela and Aurora. I will definitely be reading more from Adriana Herrera in the near future.
Get the Book
You can buy A Caribbean Heiress in Paris here – it’s available as a hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
Please note that the above link is an Amazon affiliate link and I may earn a commission on any purchases you make.
|A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera|
|Series||Las Léonas (#1)|
|Setting||Paris, France; Scotland|
|Number of Pages||344|
|Format I Read||Hardcover|
|Original Publication Date||May 31, 2022|
The Exposition Universelle is underway, drawing merchants from every corner of the globe. Luz Alana Heith-Benzan set sail from Santo Domingo armed with three hundred casks of rum, her two best friends and one simple rule: under no circumstances is she to fall in love.
The City of Light is where Luz Alana will expand Caña Brava, the rum business her family built over three generations. It’s a mission that’s taken on new urgency after her father’s untimely death and the news that her trust fund won’t be released until she marries. But buyers and shippers alike are rude and dismissive; they can’t imagine doing business with a woman…never mind a woman of color.
From her first tempestuous meeting with James Evanston Sinclair, Earl of Darnick, Luz Alana is conflicted. Why is this man—this titled Scottish man—so determined to help her? And why, honestly, is he so infuriatingly charming?
All Evan Sinclair ever wanted was to find a purpose away from his father’s dirty money and dirtier politics. Ignoring his title, he’s built a whiskey brand that’s his biggest—and only—passion. That is, until he’s confronted with a Spanish-speaking force of nature who turns his life upside down.
Evan quickly suspects he’ll want Luz Alana with him forever. Every day with her makes the earl wish for more than her magnificent kisses or the marriage of convenience that might save them both. But Luz Alana sailed for Paris with her eyes on liquor, money and new beginnings. She wasn’t prepared for love to find her.
About the Author
USA Today Best Selling author Adriana was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.
When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a trauma therapist in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Her Dreamers series has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist and has been featured in The TODAY Show on NBC, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Library Journal and The Washington Post. Her debut, American Dreamer, was selected as one of Booklist’s Best Romance Debuts of 2019, and one of the Top 10 Romances of 2019 by Entertainment Weekly. Her third novel, American Love Story, was one of the winners in the first annual Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction. Adriana is an outspoken advocate for diversity in romance and has written for Remezcla and Bustle about Own Voices in the genre. She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective. Represented by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary. For publicity inquiries, please contact Kristin Dwyer at Leo PR.
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