Review: After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez (2022)

Heat Factor: How is Lopez so good at writing sex scenes that are emotionally kinda ugly but still so hot?

Character Chemistry: Boning → antagonism → cooperation → admiration → more boning, this time with feelings

Plot: Alex goes back to her hometown to take over the family bar, only to discover that her grandma is considering selling the bar to someone else. Also, there’s a scavenger hunt for some long-lost paperwork. And a ghost.

Overall: It prompted a lot of thinky thoughts, but the romance didn’t really hit for me.

Alex is the baddest bitch in bartending. She has a chip on her shoulder a mile wide, and she’s been playing it up for her fans for years. But now she’s out of her fancy Chicago job, so it’s time to head home to Freedom, Kansas, where she and her sisters will buy out her grandmother’s bar. (Freedom, Kansas, is the hometown of billionaire Roxanne Medina, the heroine of Lush Money.) Alex has big plans for the family business: she’s going to make it hip and happening, a destination on the plains, and then she’ll have the cred to run any bar in the country. 

Unfortunately for Alex, her grandma is not impressed by her long absence and her whole savior complex, and has been considering selling the bar to one Dr. Jeremiah Post, who rents a room upstairs, and wants to turn the bar into a museum about the history of Mexican-American immigrants in the Midwest.

Cue the antagonism. 

With bonus forced proximity, since Alex ends up in the other room upstairs.

So this story was pretty interesting, in that there was a lot going on. We’ve got discussions of racism (Alex is Mexican-American, Jeremiah is 100% East Coast WASP) which are handled with a lot of nuance; Alex’s take on the way she performs her bad bitch persona is especially good. We’ve got a lot of detail about the traqueros—Mexian and Mexican-American laborers who built a lot of the American railroad system, especially after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. We’ve got a bit of a historical-suspense plot, where Alex and Jeremiah are trying to figure out what happened to the eldest son of the ton’s founder, as said scion’s descendants might be the beneficiaries of a secret second deed that would give them ownership over the bar (it’s complicated, and I did not understand the legality of it; lawyers can weigh in here, but I recommend just going with it). We’ve got a lot of family stuff that Alex has to wade through, like her estrangement from her father and her sisters’ lack of involvement in the bar-rehabilitation project. Plus there’s a ghost haunting the bar.

With all this other stuff, I felt like the romance got a little overshadowed. Yes, Alex and Jeremiah begin working together to defeat a common adversary, and in the process see each other as more than their outer shells. But something about their relationship didn’t quite sing to me. I suspect that part of my struggle was that it took a while for Alex to reveal herself to the reader—she’s definitely an unlikable heroine, and of course some of her rudeness is a front, but it’s not until quite late in the book that the reader is invited to see beyond her brash public persona. I must admit that I found her very off-putting in the first half of the book. However, I think the bigger issue is really that there was so much else going on that there wasn’t as much space for the romance. Alex grapples with her relationship with her hometown, her family, and her identity—when does she even have time to worry about her relationship with Jeremiah? Beyond the fact that she likes how big and tall he is, I mean.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say this book is women’s fic-y, because the romance is a central element of the story, mainly because of Jeremiah, who is completely and utterly smitten by Alex, even when they’re working at cross-purposes and he knows that she’s angry with him. The way Lopez handled his desire for affection and family was really lovely.

I do not want to give the impression that this is a bad book. On the contrary, this is a really rich, well-written, and interesting book. But! I do think that if our loyal smut readers have friends who read women’s fic and are romance curious, this would be a great book to recommend to them.

 I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

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2 thoughts on “Review: After Hours on Milagro Street by Angelina M. Lopez (2022)”

    1. This one definitely has a solid romance! I wouldn’t call it womens fic precisely…more like it’s a romance with some wf elements.

      And no spoilers, but I can confirm that the storyline with ghost does get resolved.

      Liked by 1 person

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