cover image Ben and Beatriz

Ben and Beatriz

Katalina Gamarra. Graydon House, $15.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-5258-9995-9

Gamarra debuts with an equally steamy and thorny adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing set in the early days of Trump’s presidency. Beatriz “Bea” Herrera feels lost in the wake of the 2016 election, uncertain where she—a queer, biracial Latinx woman—will fit into America after graduating from Harvard in the spring. Her solace is her cousin, Hero. So, when Hero asks Bea if they can spend spring break with Hero’s new boyfriend, Claudio, Bea suppresses her hatred for Claudio’s best friend, Ben Montgomery, and agrees. Ben is a rich, straight, white man from a conservative family—the antithesis to Bea in every way. The trip proves tumultuous as the quartet contends with Ben’s antagonistic brother and his frequent microaggressions against Bea—and, of course, Bea and Ben match wits. But beneath their verbal sparring, the pair can’t ignore their lingering attraction from a one-night stand three years ago. Gamarra uses their love story to explore race, colorism, sexuality, and privilege, crafting a romance between two people who are all too aware of their differences but still find a safe space in each other. Fans of the original sparring hearts love story will find this a worthy update on the classic. Agent: Larissa Melo Pienkowsk, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Aug.)