cover image West Side Love Story

West Side Love Story

Priscilla Oliveras. Montlake, $12.95 trade paper (364p) ISBN 978-1-5420-3123-3

Rival mariachi families take center stage in this overstuffed Latinx retelling of Romeo and Juliet from Oliveras (the Keys of Love series). ER nurse Mariana Capuleta struggles to balance her hectic job with playing in Las Nubes, her and her sisters’ all-female mariachi band, but she’s determined to win the Battle of the Mariachi Bands and use the prize money to ease her adoptive parents’ financial woes as they face down gentrification in their San Antonio, Tex., neighborhood. To win, they’ll have to beat Hugo Montero, her father’s archnemesis, and his band, Los Reyes. Mariana is mortified when she encounters Los Reyes and discovers that the sexy stranger she kissed on New Year’s Eve is Angelo Montero, Hugo’s nephew. Despite their families’ rivalry, the couple can’t deny their connection and decide to pursue a relationship, hoping their love might bring an end to the decades-long feud. Unfortunately, this cute central romance is mired in subplots about the families’ dynamics and the local community center. Still, the focus on mariachi adds wonderful color, and when the couple are allowed their chance in the spotlight, their chemistry is palpable. It’s not perfect, but sass and banter carry it through the narrative brambles. Agent: Rebecca Strauss, DeFiore & Co. (May)