cover image A Dish Best Served Hot

A Dish Best Served Hot

Natalie Caña. Mira, $18.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7783-3350-0

High school sweethearts reunite in Caña’s charming and emotionally mature second Vega Family Love Stories romance (after A Proposal They Can’t Refuse). Santiago “Saint” Vega left everything behind—including his then-girlfriend, Lola León—when he joined the military at 18. Twelve years later, Saint, now a single dad struggling with PTSD, divides his time between raising his daughter, working at his uncle’s Chicago construction company, and keeping an eye on his mischievous abuelo, Papo. Meanwhile, activist and teacher Lola returns to Chicago to care for her own abuelo, Benny, while volunteering at a shelter for LGBTQ youth. The two cross paths when their grandfathers’ prank war at the senior center gets out of hand, and again when Saint learns that Lola is his daughter’s new preschool teacher. Their chemistry reignites, but tensions rise when the shelter’s building is sold as part of ongoing gentrification in the neighborhood and Lola learns that Saint’s family was involved in the deal. Caña puts a great deal of care into her characters’ personal growth, and it’s a pleasure to watch them develop over the course of the novel. Themes of mental health and inequity add weight to the romantic story line, while the meddling abuelos offer welcome levity. This is a treat.Agent: Patrice Caldwell, New Leaf Literary. (Oct.)