source: free ARC via NetGalley/Randomhouse/LoveSwept
title: Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery Novel
author: Mia Hopkins/ Twitter
published: March 13, 2018
genre: contemporary steamy romance
first lines: You want a hero. Before we start, you should know-I’m not him. I’m not your hero.
rated: 3 out of 5
My name is Salvador Rosas. Back in the barrio, my past is written on the walls: ESHB. Short for East Side Hollenbeck, my father’s gang—my gang. Hell, it’s a family tradition, one that sent both my brothers away. They used to call me “Ghost” because I haunted people’s dreams. Now I’ve got nothing going for me except a hipster gringo mentoring me in a new career. An ex-con making craft beer? No mames.
Still, people in this neighborhood look out for one another. That’s how I became Vanessa Velasco’s unwelcome tenant. Chiquita pero picosa. She’s little, but with curves so sweet they’re dangerous. I remember Vanessa from the old days, the straight-A student with big plans. Plans that were derailed by another kid stupid enough to think he was bulletproof. Now Vanessa knows better than to believe in empty promises. There’s fire in her . . . and if I touch her, I might get burned.
I’m trying everything I can to go straight. But when East Side Hollenbeck comes calling, I might have to risk it all to find out if there’s a future for Vanessa and me. Because she’s the only one who can quench my thirst for something real.
You know how sometimes you don’t realize something right away? I’m trying to think of an example to elaborate further but it eludes me right now.
I have to say right off the bat that Mia Hopkins is a great writer, I enjoyed her writing style and Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery Novel drew me in from page one. This is one of those books you can read in one sitting, I read it in two. The story is told first person POV by Salvador Rosas a.k.a. Ghost. I requested this one from NetGalley because I saw it revolved around Latinos. Being Puerto Rican myself this book intrigued me straight away because the main characters are Latin and I enjoy good romance. I haven’t read a full on romance novel featuring Hispanics before. Like ever. I’ve never really come across any. And I read alot of romance, it is a favorite genre but the couples are usually white. So guess what happened when I finally found a romance novel centering on a Latino couple? Guess.
The hero is a gang-banger. Ghost is Mexican, he has recently finished serving a five-year prison stint for car theft. He’s a janitor now. And duh, this is all in the blurb I know. It didn’t dawn on me until I started reading. I decided to keep reading because like I said the writing was very good. I didn’t like the stereotypes here though and they did bother me. I think the author wrote a good book but it is just that for my first time reading a Latin centered romance, I didn’t like that the hero was a gang-banger. So, I read on and I actually enjoyed the story. I will say, it is a story about getting your life together so the plot was full of hope and redemption.
Ghost needs a place to stay while he saves up money to get an apartment for himself and his brother who will be out of jail soon. Gang-banging has been his lifestyle since forever, his dad was in a gang, his granddad was in a gang, his brother is in it too. He is working two cleaning jobs at night now and Chinita, an elderly woman from his neighborhood rents him her garage for two months. Enter Vanessa, Chinita’s granddaughter. Vanessa is a single mom. Her son’s father overdosed on heroine. She was always a good girl, got good grades but got pregnant by a gang banger and now she is raising her daughter alone. Ghost has been infatuated with Vanessa for years since they were in school together. Vanessa went to a local college and works as a bookkeeper, she is trying to become a certified accountant. These two fall in love pretty quickly and Ghost swears he will give up the lifestyle for her but the lifestyle comes calling and it isn’t easy to just quit a gang.
The chemistry between these two was sweet and the story is very romantic. I liked how Ghost thought of Vanessa, he respects her. He was a sweet character, he’s hard-working and he wants to do the right thing even though the odds are stacked against him. The writing is also very insightful which I enjoyed. Ghost suffers from anxiety attacks he has a rough upbringing and Vanessa has a tough past as well and is trying to better herself. The two naturally gravitate towards each other. It was a sweet romance in that aspect.
“I like her details, her quirks, the thousand things that make Vanessa who she is. I’m fascinated by her in a way I’ve never been fascinated by anyone else.”-67%,Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery Novel by Mia Hopkins
On the other hand, I didn’t understand why Vanessa would allow an ex-con to live in her house knowing he is still gang affiliated. Also, she knows the police can come at any time and raid the house since Ghost is on parole, which happens, in front of her young daughter. She has a degree, she’s trying to pass the test to become a certified accountant and she should move out of the barrio ASAP. I have to say, I didn’t connect with Vanessa’s character probably because the story is told through Ghost’s eyes.
As the plot flows Ghost is offered help from a local craft beer bar owner and he finds a great opportunity to better himself. I found the whole craft beer twist to the story-line a little contrived, I don’t know, it didn’t mesh well for me. Also in the mix are Ghost’s old gang affiliates who are trying to get him back into the game.
I have to mention that the sex is pretty graphic and it happens often throughout. It is borderline erotica. When I checked out the author’s website, I saw that she does write steamy romances. I didn’t mind it but I wasn’t expecting all those hot details. It slightly pulled me out of the plot because there was so much sex and so many details and so many orgasms. And…
“It’s just sex.
And yet…it’s not.
We’re not bodies.
We’re pure light, set free for a moment before the universe gathers us and sets us back inside ourselves, particle by particle. Drop by drop.” -75%,Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery Novel by Mia Hopkins
Hopkins does a great job at writing from a guy’s POV as well as writing about the gangster lifestyle. She includes a note at the end of the book saying that she volunteered at a gang intervention program and people shared their stories with her that inspired the characters in Thirsty. I appreciated that it all felt legit in regards to the gang lifestyle. The ending wraps it up nicely but also leaves it wide open for the second installment.
So while I enjoyed Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery Novel, I am disappointed that my first time reading contemporary romance featuring a Latin couple centered around thug life. This happened to me as well when I read My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea M. Cameron where the only black character was stereotyped as wearing baggy pants and beat-boxing, while none of the other cast of characters were described this way. That book annoyed me, this one did not. Like I said, the writing here was good and I read it in two sittings.
On an ending note, does anyone have any romance recommendations featuring a Latin couple that doesn’t gang bang? I’m all ears.
disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a free ARC of Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery Novel by Mia Hopkins through NetGalley/Randomhouse/LoveSwept.
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