Here to Stay is a a variant of the enemies to lovers romance trope – people who meet because of work, but have conflicting professional needs, but fall in love anyway (see also Kate Clayborn’s Beginners Luck).
Julia Ortiz feels threatened by Rocco Quinn when she first meets him – he is the consultant hired to make recommendations that are likely to lead to Julia losing her job, and he hits all of Julia’s lust triggers. Rocco has vowed to be a hard-ass on this job because if he gets a promised promotion, he will be able to move his younger sister and niece further away from their parents, but not away from New York City. Unfortunately, he can’t keep his mind off Julia and he wishes he could just love her without their jobs getting in the way.
What happened next was when I knew that Rocco was going to be a very big monkey wrench in my short-, medium-, and long-term plans of staying off the D and focusing on me.
Of course they are unable to resist each other and their romance is edged with the knowledge that they have a time limit and contradictory professional objectives. There’s some really great pining before they get together, and some pining for permanence once they start a relationship. Rocco commits the cardinal sin of thinking he knows best and making a decision that impacts them both without discussing it with Julia. It’s the kind of boneheaded move that good guys in romance make before they realize how dumb they are. What I loved was Julia’s response, which I would like to see more of in romance – she is/was his girlfriend, not his therapist and it wasn’t her job to fix him. I loved the whole book, but that scene is the reason I will be shoving this book in people’s faces.
Adriana Herrera brings her strengths from the Dreamers series to Here to Stay. Family and found family provide a strong community support. Social justice and social welfare are central to Julia’s life and Rocco understands and respects that. Julia and Rocco are both very good at their jobs, though Rocco is made to understand that the quality of his work is less important than the outcome he delivers. Capitalism, corporate greed, and white supremacy are the real enemies in Here to Stay. For Julia and Rocco as a couple, and individually in their work, the barriers they have to overcome are mostly related to trying to exist in capitalist economy where executive salaries and shareholder dividends are more important than the dignity of people.
Herrera also gives us a white woman scarier than Misty from American Dreamer. Just like with Misty, Vicky was instantly familiar to me. The liberal white woman who thinks she is a benevolent savior, but is actually as destructive as the grasping corporate men.
CW: Verbally abusive alcoholic father, child endangerment, deportation threat
I received this as an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.