Priscilla Oliveras continues her lovely West Side Love Story series about a family of female mariachis finding love and romance in Kiss Me, Catalina. This is a consistently wonderful book, with an enthusiastically glorious heroine and a sweet hero.
Ambitious singer/songwriter Catalina – Cat – Capuleta (adopted sister of West Side Love Story heroine Mariana) is offered a recording contract with Padua Records on the strength of her songwriting and singing talent. Her label sets her up on a seven-month national concert tour with famous (and famously arrogant) fellow mariachi Patricio Galán, Cat’s songwriting skills – and professionalism – come in handy, as they get on like oil and water. At least at first.
Both Cat and Patricio are too stubborn and strong-willed to fully give in to their desire. Cat just wants to make her family proud and is determined to keep things professional, while there’s a whole host of reasons Patricio shouldn’t end up in bed with his opening act, no matter how much of a following they’ve managed to attain with their passionate duets or how truly lonely he is. Even when they finally succumb to passion, their baggage and the music world at large threaten to pull them apart, leaving them wondering if the magic they’re able to make both on stage and off is just a romantic mirage.
This is the right way to do a slow burn. Bit by bit, Cat and Patricio fall for one another, going from onstage rivals to duet partners to confidants to lovers to romantic partners. It’s all good, and no one does it better than Oliveras, who manages to make her characters beautifully well-rounded without sacrificing a single note. Both Cat and Patricio are easy to love and easy to root for, and the romance between them soars.
As always, it’s fun to learn about music through Oliveras’ work – it takes an excellent author to make the musical world ring so true to life, but you can hear every single note that’s played in this story without hearing the actual music. Setting, romance and character work (as both leads try to deal with difficult family expectations) make the book itself sing.
This is a perfect romance, and it’s wonderfully swoony. Kiss Me Catalina makes you wonder what Oliveras has in store for the rest of the Capuleta family singers.
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