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In this Latina romance anthology, all kinds of love and couplings

In "Amor Actually: A Holiday Romance Anthology," Latina romance novelists showcase all kinds of love stories, emphasizing sexual and cultural diversity.
“Amor Actually: A Holiday Romance Anthology” shines a light on Latinx love.
“Amor Actually: A Holiday Romance Anthology” shines a light on Latino love.Adriana Herrera Publishing

Latinos are far from monolithic — and a group of romance novelists are showcasing this through a holiday anthology of nine diverse, romantic and, yes, steamy love stories showcasing cultural, gender and sexual diversity.

In “Amor Actually: A Holiday Romance Anthology,” nine Latina authors chose their favorite romance trope, but maintained the common thread of Hispanic Christmas traditions such as the big Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) celebration.  

The authors included their own families' holiday traditions when creating their fictional love stories, but steered away from stereotypical characters and storylines. The characters in the book range from Latin pop stars to adult film stars. There are throuples and lesbian couples. 

The book is written by seven acclaimed and bestselling Latina authors: Zoey Castile, Alexis Daria, Adriana Herrera, Diana Muñoz Stewart, Priscilla Oliveras, Sabrina Sol and Mia Sosa.

Herrera wrote “Make the Yuletide Gay” and co-wrote “To Us, You Are Perfect,” with Alexis Daria. “Make the Yuletide Gay” tells the story of Viviana, an international Latina pop star singer who, after a string of broken engagements, ends up finding love with her longtime manager, days before her big live holiday special.

Viviana is 45 and struggles to accept that she’s bisexual, after years of dating only men.

The authors of "Amor Actually: A Holiday Romance Anthology" held a Zoom call for the launch of the book.Courtesy Adriana Herrera

“Showing specifically Black and Latinx people being able to have love and joy without trauma is really important to me,” Herrera said.

“We grew up with telenovelas, but even in telenovelas you don’t see all Latinos represented — only one kind,” said Zoraida Córdova, an Ecuadorian American writer of teen fantasy novels who also writes romances under the name Zoey Castile.

In one of her stories, "Love In Spanglish,” a heartbroken Latina romance writer gets snowed in with a novel-worthy hero who may just make her believe in love again. “You have to try harder to communicate — to build a relationship when you’re not speaking the same tongue,” said Córdova, who also wrote "The Great Holiday Escape."

The hybrid language, Spanglish, becomes an obstacle, but nothing love can’t overcome.

Breaking stigmas

Language barriers are something many in the Latino community experience. “When a Spanish speaker is speaking in public and they speak in Spanish, people will say, 'Speak in English,'" Córdova said. "There’s no national language in this country, so we can speak whatever we want."

The anthology does not steer away from discussing sexuality and female desire. Herrera said incorporating those things into her writing is a form of social justice for her, as she tries to break the stigma and hypocrisy when it comes to women and pleasure. 

The authors knew one another before coming together for this project; there's only a small percentage of diverse authors in the romance genre.

“That’s a reason why a lot of us also are hybrid. We publish with a traditional publisher and we also do indie projects, because at any given time, publishing may or may not be ready to invest in something that we think has value and that readers will want,” said Herrera.

The authors gathered in 2019 for a writing retreat, and the idea of an anthology came up, but it wasn’t until last year that things got solidified during a virtual holiday movie watch party. 

“We wrote as a community and we did it as a community,” Herrera said. 

"Amor Actually: A Holiday Romance Anthology," released on Dec. 7, is available in e-book stores. The print version is available on Amazon. 

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