Book: Ben and Beatriz by Katalina Gamarra
Source: I received a copy from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Graydon House
Release Date: August 2nd, 2022
This post contains affiliate links to Bookshop. If you purchase a book using this link we will make a small commission at no extra cost to you!
You know when you see a book, and based on the cover and synopsis alone, you decide you’re going to love it? That was me with Ben and Beatriz. I was so excited for this book that I read my ARC copy in February even though it releases in early August. And that excitement sure paid off, because I’m happy to introduce you all to the review of my first 5 star read of 2022!
I normally dread writing reviews, but with this book, I had so many thoughts while reading it that I can’t wait to share that I’m so excited that I get to review it. So get yourself some snacks, because I’m about to break down all the things I loved about this book and why I thought each element was done so well!
To start, you need a synopsis. This book is a Much Ado About Nothing retelling where the main male character, Ben, comes from a rich, privileged, white family, and Beatriz is everything Ben’s family hates as a bold, mixed race supporter of equality in all forms. The two have hated each other practically since they met, but now Beatriz and her cousin Hero are accompanying Ben and his roommate, Claudio, to Ben’s house in Cape Cod for spring break. While the four of them are there, Ben and Beatriz’s relationship starts to evolve, but there are many obstacles thrown in the path of any chance of a happily ever after for the two of them.
So you might have already guessed by the fact that this was a 5 star read that I adored absolutely everything about this book. But I just feel the need to list out everything I loved. The characters? Perfection. The pacing? Impeccable. The steaminess? Top notch. This book was everything I could ever want in a romance wrapped up in the perfect package of that stunning cover. But now, on to the details!
One of the things that makes this such a strong book was how complex the characters were. You see the stories from both characters’ perspectives and they’re flawed, multifaceted individuals that slowly reveal all their many sides to each other over the course of the novel. What’s amazing is that it all feels so natural. The evolution of their relationship was messy and complicated in a way that felt so real. Even though I’m not quite like either character, I related to both of them so hard because of how they were dealing with everything that went on.
Even the side characters were real, complicated people. You saw a lot of how dimensionalized every character was by how intricate their emotions were. In one scene each character would express a range of emotions as a conversation or situation progressed, that just felt so real. I find that many stories try highlighting one central emotion per scene, but in this book that definitely was not the case. A steamy scene could also have the two arguing, a happy scene could have characters processing difficult, harsh emotions. Nothing was just surface level, and because of that you really got to know each of these characters in quite an intense manner.
I also loved how class and race and privilege was intertwined throughout this book. There were no easy fixes in sight, but the characters in this book had hard conversations, made important realizations, and made the changes they needed to based on what they learned. This book was hopeful, but in a realistic way. The societal issues at the beginning of the book were the same societal issues that were being dealt with at the end of the book, but what had changed was how the characters now approached these issues. The change wasn’t linear, and it was different for each character, but it did convey this sense of hope and reminded me that everyone has growing that they need to do, and it may not be easy, but it can be done.
As for the romantic elements, be prepared, because this book is quite steamy. These two take a more enemies with benefits approach before any real romance kicks in. And once they get started, they do not stop tearing off each other’s clothes the entire book. You have been warned. That being said, I feel like the author did a great job of only putting scenes on page when there was a reason to. Whenever there was some aspect of an emotional breakthrough, or some sort of change in Ben and Beatriz’s relationship, you also saw the physical intimacy that these two constantly sought. One of the things I also loved was how respectful and communicative these two were to one another when they slept together even when they were the fiercest of enemies. They could be bickering and arguing all day, but when things got heated, they always made sure they were on the same page.
I could write a detailed thesis on this book with quotes, a full blown analysis of each chapter, and an appendix referencing how this book is one of the best retellings I’ve read in a long time, but I’ll hold myself back so that this is a non-spoiler filled review instead. But what I’m really hoping is that you understand the depth of my love for this book and go pick it up to see for yourself how great it is.
As I’ve already mentioned, I gave this book 5 stars. I loved it so very much, and I think there’s a good chance that many others will love it too once they give it a chance once it comes out! And if I have to reread the book come August so that I can discuss all the little details with everyone once the general public has read it, so be it!