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Finding Joy

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As his twenty-sixth birthday approaches, Desta Joy Walker finds himself in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the one place he's been actively avoiding most of his life. For Desta, the East African capital encompasses some of the happiest and saddest parts of his life--his first home and the place where his father died. When an unavoidable work obligation lands him there for twelve weeks, he may finally have a chance for the closure he so desperately needs. What Desta never expected was to catch a glimpse of his future as he reconnects with the beautiful country and his family's past.

Elias Fikru has never met an opportunity he hasn't seized. Except, of course, for the life-changing one he's stubbornly ignored for the past nine months. He'd be a fool not to accept the chance to pursue his doctoral studies in the U.S., but saying yes means leaving his homeland, and Elias isn't ready to make that commitment.

Meeting Desta, the Dominican-American emergency relief worker with the easy smile and sad eyes, makes Elias want things he's never envisioned for himself. Rediscovering his country through Desta's eyes emboldens Elias to reach for a future where he can be open about every part of himself. But when something threatens the future that's within their grasp, Elias and Desta must put it all on the line for love.

241 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 15, 2020

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About the author

Adriana Herrera

38 books1,073 followers
USA Today bestselling author ADRIANA HERRERA was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last 15 years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

Her debut Dreamers, has been featured on Entertainment Weekly, NPR, the TODAY Show on NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Oprah Magazine.

When she's not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a social worker in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 201 reviews
Profile Image for Olivia-Savannah .
717 reviews479 followers
August 18, 2020
I am always eager to read another Adriana Herrera novel because she always manages to bring joy into my life with each book. This one was not different. It was a brilliant read.

I loved that this one was set in Ethiopia. It is told from the perspective of an expat working in Ethipioa, and Adriana herself lived in Ethiopia for some time, which made the setting very authentic. I loved all that we got to see of Ethiopian culture and everything I learned in the book. I’d never really read a book set there before so it was a fun experience.

There was a small moment in this book where the main character, who is gay, had to check about how the country he was moving to perceive the LGBT+ community. This was something I have never had to think about myself, and it was eye opening to read about having to keep your sexuality or romantic relationships a secret because they are illegal in the country. Eye opening and heart breaking.

Adriana Herrera always makes sure she brings diversity to the table with her characters and this was no different. We have a biracial, gay main character who has Dominican Republic roots. And our love interest is black and gay. Identity and culture are themes which weave into the story telling well.

I want to take a moment to appreciate the music and book references! I don’t love too many pop culture references but Herrera never adds too many. And most of them were music and books I was familiar with so it made my musical and reader heart so happy.

Elias was a fantastic love interest. He is absolutely the sweetest, and most level-headed person to read about. I need his level of calm and chill in my life. And he is also so determined and strong. So much so that I don’t think he even knows it himself!

There were so many good discussions in this book. There were discussions about immigrating. How it can make you feel like you don’t belong in the country you’re going to, or that you are betraying your country by leaving. There’s also a lot of talk about making career changes as an adult and also living closeted life.

There was a brief mention of a certain restaurant opening in Ithaca and I noted the American Dreamer series reference 😀

One of my favourite things about the romance in this one is the healthy communication the couple have. It does not mean they don’t have any problems – most of them are internal. But internal and introverted problems or turmoil truly can affect your romantic relationship. I liked seeing that in action and seeing them both work through it.

There are some steamy scenes in this one! It is a new adult romance, after all. The steamy scenes were just okay for me, but the romance and the discussions are where this book truly shines.

This review and others can be found on Olivia's Catastrophe: https://oliviascatastrophe.com/2020/0...
Profile Image for Madison Warner Fairbanks.
2,238 reviews305 followers
September 6, 2022
Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera
Diverse M-M romance. N/A.
Desta Joy Walker travels to Ethiopia as an emergency relief worker. He meets and works with Elias, who immediately recognizes that Desta means Joy and the two become friends and then lovers as they appreciate the country and also realize the danger as their love is still forbidden.

Drama, family allegiance, and work issues make this romance and these two men an engaging read. The love interest was quick with high heat and the best part of the relationship to me was that they talked to each other openly. They still had their own issues to overcome but a little melodrama makes the ending that much better.
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,142 followers
July 22, 2020
Very sweet mostly low angst m/m romance set in Ethiopia between an aid worker and a local. It's first person from Desta, the aid worker, who is (as he'd be the first to admit) pretty self-involved for a lot of the book, and I would have loved Elias' perspective and to have a sense of his feelings outside Desta's POV. I suspect that hit more strongly with this one than with most 1st person romances because it's very much about cultural difference and the different ways of looking at the world people have to negotiate.

Gorgeous cover, lovely writing about the country, and as ever with this author, mouthwatering food descriptions that made me really want injera oh god please let the restaurants come back.
Profile Image for M.I.A.
406 reviews79 followers
June 24, 2020
Pure Nostalgia.
I am so happy, Finding Joy lived up to my expectations.

Adriana Herrera did this story justice. Culturally accurate information. Respectful. Beautiful love story. Incredibly believable.

Quick Snapshot:
Slow burn romance
Interracial couple: Dominican/American and Ethiopian
Travel: Great insight on Ethiopia from the city to the rural areas
Feel good
Low Angst
Great Chemistry
Great secondary characters
Perfect HEA

Desta, the American with the Ethiopian name, he's in Ethiopia working for Aid USA. A job he does well but out a sense of obligation and in order to honor his father that has passed. He's torn. Torn between a meaningful, impactful position and pursuing a career that fulfills him in a different way. This is a time for him to make some hard decisions and figure out what his life is going to look like. He never expects to fall for Elias, the Ethiopian who's assigned as his driver and is also the logistics coordinator for the project they embark upon.

Elias is a man who is torn between an obligation to his family, to his country and to himself. He's also at an impasse in his life. Deciding whether or not to continue his work in Ethiopia or pursue an opportunity for higher education in the U.S that will also allow him to live his life openly as a gay man. Despite not getting his POV, Elias is incredibly clear as a character and gosh I loved his insightful rhetoric.

These two are so damn sweet together. A friendship blossoms at first. The attraction quite apparent but neither making a move. Making this a delicious slow burn. Once they get together there is a definite scorching chemistry, all that restraint in public bursting at the seems.

This is definitely a very positive and feel good story that's done incredibly well. There is a simplicity to Adriana Herrera's writing style but it still brings to light beautiful Ethiopian sceneries and customs.
Both characters have a lot of depth and their love story is believable and endearing.

5 beautiful appreciative stars
Highly recommend

I am most definitely a bit biased because this is the first gay romance set in Ethiopia with an Ethiopian character!! This brings me so much joy I don't have words for it.
Growing up in Ethiopia and being apart of the LGBT community, let's just say it's not something I ever felt free to speak about until I moved to America. To this day it is not only illegal but also incredibly stigmatized by the entire community. It's not spoken about, there is no education, there is no open dialogue and there is a tight government control on freedom of speech. Many live in fear, in hiding or flee the country to live in more tolerant parts of the world. It's not pretty. And I seriously appreciate Adriana Herrera for setting this romance in Ethiopia and giving it a positive/feel good flare while it's still rooted in reality. Kudos.
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,120 reviews1,348 followers
June 30, 2020


Not to sound cheesy, but I found Finding Joy to be one of the most joyous books I've read this year. I've read Adriana Herrera before, so I knew I would adore this book. It's the kind of book that will leave you with a good dose of serotonin flowing through your bloodstream. If you're a romance reader, you absolutely need to meet Desta and Elias and go on the best romantic adventure as they steal your heart.

Besides being an Adriana Herrera book, one of the first things that attracted me to Finding Joy was the Ethiopian setting. We very rarely see contemporary romance novels set in Africa, so this was a completely refreshing reading experience for me. I'm from an African island but I have never been to Ethiopia myself and reading this book felt like taking a mini trip there. The author's writing is bright and vivid and she does an incredible job of showcasing the beauty and complexities of the culture and the lifestyle of Ethiopians. As a major foodie, I especially found the details of all the food to be mouth-watering. It most certainly had me craving a whole authentic Ethiopian meal that was sadly not within my reach. Adriana Herrera also does not show away from the downsides of life in the country, particularly what it's like to have to hide one's sexuality since being gay is illegal in Ethiopia.

Though that will leave you feeling tense in the background because we have two men pining for each other here, I felt nothing but hope for Desta and Elias and their love story. Adriana is excellent at crafting characters who are realistic and multi-layered. Desta is back in Ethiopia working as part of a humanitarian relief team. He is an intelligent, kind, well-spoken young man who has followed his late father's footsteps despite that not being the exact path he wants to follow. He also recently broke up with his partner and is nursing a slightly achy heart. I really loved being in Desta's head. It was easy for me to connect to his personality as he is extremely likable. I cheered him on as he overcame the obstacles he faced like a pro and was pretty much in awe of him all throughout. He is the sort of character that you just want to shower with all the happiness and shield from all the pain. I also have to mention just how bright and contagious his love and respect for Ethiopia as a country was. He has deep historical connections and precious memories tied to the country and his utter appreciation shines throughout the book.

Elias, his romantic interest, was an equally delightful addition to Finding Joy. Like Desta, Adriana Herrera takes the time to paint his character in layers upon layers. At first glance, he has a charming and open disposition, but he is also a young man who has had to hide his true self forever, so he could also be fairly guarded with his emotions. It's heart-wrenching when you realize how he has had to stay in the closet even from his family. Throughout Finding Joy, he struggles with his obligation to his family and to his desire to accept an offer to a dream Ph.D. program in America. Elias' friendship that eventually turns into a romance with Desta was just the nudge he needed to put himself first.

The romance in Finding Joy was very lovely despite the danger of being caught looming over their heads. Desta and Elias made for a couple that fit in every way. There was an almost innocence to their relationship that had me swooning in a corner. They flirted, they made googly eyes each other, and they brought so much sunshine to each other's lives. It was extra cute watching them look forward to meeting each other when they would go a couple of hours without seeing each other. The sex scenes were also sensual works of art. I love how well their passion for each other came across in the intimate scenes. Again, Adriana Herrera is a very talented author! Desta and Elias obviously faced numerous road-blocks throughout their relationship but none felt like it was there for the sake of drama.

If you're a romance reader, it would be remiss to pass on Finding Joy. This is the perfect book for those of you on the look-out for a heartwarming story with a beautiful setting, characters with depth, and a romance to leave your heart feeling warm and content.

Read my interview with Adriana Herrera and more of my reviews @ The Infinite Limits of Love.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 75 books2,514 followers
August 22, 2021
This story gives us two young gay men, one American working with a US aid organization, the other an Ethiopian local driver and facilitator. They dance around each other for quite a while, not least because gay sex is still illegal there, and the consequences of choosing wrong are significant. Both are also on the rebound from disastrous previous relationships, and wary of being burned again. The local color, the ethnic background details for both men, and the feel of the location are highlights of this story. There are way too few M/M stories set outside mainstream Western settings and culture.

Desta is a good guy, following in his dad's footsteps as an aid worker, although occasionally he's too caught up in his own needs and wants. But he tries pretty hard to do the right thing by others, and he is still young.

Elias is a wonderful young man, navigating a difficult situation. His father's mental health problems made him his mother's main support, and are one reason he's postponed the chance to study in America. At the same time, he's hiding a big truth about himself from his parents, and that's a distance, and a future crisis, only he knows about. He's also at risk for who he is in his society. He loves his homeland, but knows that it will not love him for his whole identity. The temptation to leave is as strong as the urge to stay. Throw a new romance into the mix, with a man who will be going back to America, and it just gets harder.

I wished we got Elias's POV - Desta is a great character, but the stakes for him were much lower, so we saw the more emotional parts of the story from the outside. The risks didn't feel as salient, to the character who could probably walk away from them. Still, the story had charm and warmth and some humor and poignancy. Always a welcome addition with two POC main characters and a novel and engaging setting.
Profile Image for Adri.
948 reviews801 followers
June 16, 2020
4.5 Stars

CWs: explorations of being closeted and living in a society where it's not safe to be open about queerness, some witnessed xenophobia

(This e-ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.)

Adriana Herrera is healing me from the inside out, and I'm cheesin' big time upon finishing this brilliant, heart-warming story.
Profile Image for Gustaf.
1,416 reviews127 followers
March 26, 2023
I wasn't sure about this one for the longest time but ended up enjoying it quite a bit.
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
470 reviews275 followers
December 8, 2020
This is a sweet story about two guys in Ethiopia, one biracial Dominican/American en one Ethiopian. Desta en Elias meet and immediately connect. I read a couple of sad stories and was ready for an uplifting book. Although some serious topics were discussed in Finding Joy, like not being able to be gay in Ethiopia and leaving your family to study in another country, the overall story was fluffy and cute. For me the more serious topics could have been deepened a bit more. I adored the setting in Ethiopia and the author’s note also added a little more to that.

I loved the references to Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe 🥰, the boys were listening to the audiobook and that was so cute!

Overall this was a pleasant read, 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,350 reviews228 followers
January 29, 2021
I loved everything about this. The characters, the romance, the setting, the food, the dedication to changing norms for the better.

Set in Ethiopia, where homosexuality is illegal, this book had it's share of dramatics surrounding coming out and being caught. However, it brought a level of trust into a relationship that isn't often seen at the very beginning. Desta and Elias were both joys and well rounded characters, but I wished for a little more development amongst the side characters and subplots.

Rep: Dominican-American, Ethiopian, gay, sapphic side character, non-binary side character.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,767 reviews650 followers
June 27, 2020
This might not be my favourite Adriana Herrera book, but that's only because American Dreamer is THAT good. This is a very close second though.

This was such an intense and hopeful romance, and I absolutely adored the setting. Absolute gem of a novel. And the fooooood!!
Profile Image for Caz.
2,680 reviews1,015 followers
January 8, 2021
I've given this a C- for narration and a B- for content at AudioGals. I suspect the book is better than that, but I went with a compromise grade; based on the listen alone, I'd have given the story a C, but I think, had I read it, I'd have given it a B, so I settled on a B-.

Adriana Herrera’sFinding Joy has been recommended to me a few times, so I eagerly snapped up an audio review copy when it became available. I loved the author’s  Dreamers  series, which features a group of Afro-Latinx friends living and working in New York; they’re gorgeous, sensual romances that don’t shy away from exploring some very relevant and sensitive topics, but which are a wonderful celebration of diversity and an exploration of the immigrant experience. In Finding Joy, an ex-pat aid worker returns to the land of his birth and discovers a love for the country – and for a handsome colleague.

Twenty-six-year-old Desta Joy Walker is returning to the Ethiopia for the first time since leaving it when he was just three. He’s travelled in Africa quite extensively for his work with Aid USA, but has always avoided being sent to Ethiopia, being scared, deep down, of how it would feel to be back there, especially as his father – also an aid worker – died there while Desta was in high school in the US. But after a messy break-up, Desta decides to take a last-minute assignment which will see him spending eight weeks in Ethiopia; as well as getting out of DC and away from his ex, he hopes it will also give him the time and space he needs to make some important decisions about the direction his life is taking. He has pretty much decided that aid work isn’t what he wants to do going forward and he’s started to realise that fulfilling his father’s legacy is preventing him from following his own dreams. He’s been accepted into NYU’s MSW (Master’s in Social Work) program, but hasn’t yet told his mother – to whom he’s very close – because he fears his decision to no longer follow in his father’s footsteps will break her heart.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals .
Profile Image for Grace.
2,640 reviews117 followers
January 22, 2021
Thank you so much to "I Like You A Latke" for this 2020 Secret Santa gift!
4.5 rounded up

Aww, this was such a delight! I quite enjoy this author's work but I think this is probably their best written so far and definitely my favorite! Having one best friend whose family is from Ethiopian and another who does work similar to Desta, there was a lot of familiarity for me here that made reading this an extra treat! As always, Herrera has some of the best, most authentic, and seamless representation in the genre, and I loved that both MCs were PoC, and that we also got to see the cultural differences and slight friction that are inevitable when you have a couple from two different countries. The characters were lovely, their chemistry was fab, and the smut was right up my alley. This would have been a five star for me, but I did feel like the climactic conflict felt a little bit forced and a bit overdrawn. But pretty minor quibble overall because this really was just so lovely!
Profile Image for Cal.
390 reviews22 followers
January 18, 2022
3.5 ⭐️

This was such a sweet read! I really enjoyed so much of it, especially Elias and exploring his pride for his country and his queerness. Like so good!

Where I struggled more was with Desta’s narration and inner voice. I struggled to connect with him as much, despite his fabulous music taste. I found him overly needy and irrational at times and like holy hell if I was Elias I’d be like YOU HAVE TO CHILL.
Profile Image for Victoria (Eve's Alexandria).
664 reviews385 followers
July 5, 2020
A joyous book about two fundamentally decent people falling in love in Ethiopia, which doesn’t shy away from the realities of colonialism, racism or homophobia but instead shows how people can find and claim happiness in spite of them.
Profile Image for Zimmy W.
611 reviews8 followers
May 12, 2021
** I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. **

A perfect beach read (hypothetically of course; please don't go to beaches in COVID) for Pride! The characters were absolutely adorable, and their interactions were heart eyes emoji.

I rated it 4/5 because I felt the main character's excitement and interest in the love interest started to be too often. I think in these cases, less is more, and it started to take me out of the story a bit. Still a very adorable read I enjoyed and recommend.

** If you'd like to read a short, bite-sized review with tropes, visit my blog: https://lizzywritesreviews.art.blog/2... **
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,173 reviews422 followers
July 29, 2020
The writing is just a leeetle more YA than I usually go for (it has to do with the first person POV + a young MC), but that’s a minor thing and entirely my own preference so I’m going to shut up now because the story is great. The love letter to Ethiopia (and likewise the Dominican Republic) is more than worth it. Plus the father-who-struggles-with-anxiety thing is something I haven’t seen represented that way and it hits close to home.

I mean, how many romances reference Frantz Fanon? 🙌 However many there are, there need to be more.
Profile Image for lauraღ.
1,484 reviews65 followers
August 1, 2022
“You have to do the work that feeds you. Find the joy in it.”

3.5 stars. Super duper cute; I feel all warm inside. <3 Desta, an emergency relief worker, travels to Ethiopia for a new project, and slowly bonds with one of his new co-workers while working on a surveying project. Desta has a lot of family history with the country, and is at a pivotal moment in his life, and we follow him through his romance with Elias and as he makes some big decisions. This was just so wonderful and light to read; pretty low angst, all in all. I just love reading romances that don't take place in the West; it makes for a great change. And I always think it's so beautiful, seeing a country through a writer's eyes, and even more so through a romance writer's eyes, while a couple is getting to know each other and falling for each other. It's playful and sweet about the cultural differences, but also gets serious when it needs to. I love that the author touches on Western attitudes towards African countries, and how harm can be perpetuated even when people are trying to do good.

And man, I just really liked this romance. I'd forgotten how good Herrera is at making me absolutely fall for her couples. They're SO good together, and I love that they build a friendship first. I think this is the most slow burn thing I've ever read from her, which, of course, I was super happy about. Elias is so caring and considerate and strong; a cinnamon roll I'd die for. The conflict was a little weak; even though I saw the reasons and logic behind it, I got so frustrated with Desta. Thankfully it doesn't last long. There's some stuff said about the necessity of coming out that I wasn't a fan of, but I'm always picky about that.

Listened to the audiobook as read by Braeden Sinclair, which was pretty good. I didn't really love his narration; there were some parts that needed emotion and I felt like he wasn't giving. But I did like his voice overall. I'm always glad to read from this author, and this was a happy reminder that she has more stuff in her backlist for me to check out.

Content warnings:

In the place where I was supposed to be finding myself, I would lose myself in him.
Profile Image for Sofia (Bookish Wanderess).
898 reviews597 followers
August 3, 2020

*3,7 stars*

*An e-arc of this was provided by the author in exchange of an honest review*

This was cute and low angst. I really liked the romance between the two main characters, Elias was adorable and Desta was just chaotic. I wish this was told in dual pov, because I would have loved to read Elias' thoughts and feeling about everything that happened.
Profile Image for Hemmel M..
567 reviews30 followers
May 31, 2023
Nice story, great voice. This book had such a pleasant, calm vibe. I think it was the narrator. The characters were relatable and realistic, the drama understated and the romance up front but not cheesy. Maybe I bump it up to 4 stars after a relisten. For now I think: more drama would have been nicer.
Profile Image for jut.
473 reviews167 followers
March 19, 2021
this is a perfect book, with a perfect romance, with perfect characters and with the perfect development pace! it's so funny and cheesy that it brought me joy to read that book, so i really think that even the tittle is perfect in it! finding joy is a seretonin boost!
Profile Image for b.andherbooks.
2,092 reviews926 followers
June 24, 2020
Desta Joy Walker has finally come back to Ethiopia, a country his mom and dad hold beloved in their hearts, but also the place his father died. Determined to work hard but also find time to enjoy his time in Addis Abba and maybe a little closure, Desta isn't expecting to also find maybe the love of his life.

And while Desta and Elias are clearly pining for each other, both are wary to express their feelings because it is dangerous not just for their hearts but for Elias's life. While fighting and exploring their feelings for each other, Desta needs to decide whether it is time to tell his mother that her and his father's dreams are not his and Elias needs to decide if he's ready to move to America to begin his doctoral program and perhaps explore what it means to be a gay man in a country where he would have more rights.

Told entirely from Desta's POV, this is an utterly emotional and ultimately full of joy romance that will leave you feeling you are sitting next to Desta and Elias in Ethiopia. A celebration of finding oneself while also losing your heart, a triumph for Herrera.

I received a free copy from the author for review. Thank you!

CW: death of a parent (in the past), lingering grief issues, homophobia (societal), fear of being outed
Profile Image for Emmalita.
527 reviews34 followers
June 22, 2020
Adriana Herrera gives layers of meaning to her title, Finding Joy.

Desta and Elias have both been avoiding decisions about their individual futures. They aren’t happy where they are, but they aren’t miserable and there are benefits to staying stuck. Desta and Elias find each other and in so doing find the courage to move forward, towards joy. Herrera also shows the joy of Ethiopia. It is a country rich in life and culture and recovering from war and civil strife. Herrera’s portrayal of Ethiopia is grounded and complex – the joy of coffee, the joy of early morning runs with local children, the complexity of being gay in a country where that is illegal.

One thing you can count on in an Adriana Herrera book is the joy her lovers find in each other’s bodies. Her love scenes are passionately physical and messy. There is nothing soft focused about them. One of my discomforts with some cis women who write m/m romance is the feeling that they have such prescribed ideas of what two men expressing desire looks like. Herrera not only gives her queer characters a happy ending, she also lets them revel in each other.

As a side note, I initially went to grad school to pursue a degree in International Development, hoping that I would be able to do good in the world. The more I studied and interacted with people who did the kind of work I thought I wanted to do, the more I saw the problematic elements to the whole industry of international development and aid. After giving it a lot of thought I didn’t feel like I would do more good than unintended harm, so I abandoned that degree. But I still have a lot of friends in the field and Desta and his colleagues, good and bad, are familiar to me.

I think I’ve read all but one of Adrianna Herrera’s books to date. She’s has so much love and respect for her characters and the worlds they inhabit. She manifests that love and respect in the deliberate ways she tells the story. That may sound like an obvious thing to say about an author and her own work. Of course writers shape the experience the reader will have. Herrera is protective of her characters and her queer BIPOC readers while being welcoming to readers like me – white women, some of whom might be tempted to focus on the exotic. She makes sure that her characters and their worlds stay grounded and real. Keeping the story of Finding Joy focused on how Desta interacts with his colleagues, ex-pat and local, keeps the reader out of the Western savior fantasy weeds. She keeps Desta focused on his relationships with the people around him, so that we meet Ethiopia not as a foreign locale, but as a childhood home he is rediscovering as an adult. Elias is never a magical tour guide, but a man with his own interests, ideas, and struggles.

I received Finding Joy as an advance reader copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Finding Joy is out now. It is lovely.

Profile Image for Jessica (the naptime writer).
593 reviews39 followers
June 25, 2020

(Tropes: workplace; travel)
Adriana Herrera’s Finding Joy is the sweetest little treat and then BAM it’s dirty and steamy and 🔥. That’s the combo that makes my world go round. Add to that two characters who truly connect on an emotional level & an immersive journey into Ethiopian culture & you can see why I’m smitten.
American Desta Joy returns to Ethiopia—the place where he spent part of his childhood & that’s very special to his family—determined to help others & decide his next step. Soon after he meets the handsome, strapping, & delightfully kind man who’ll be the driver & logistics coordinator on their aid surveys: Elias.
The chemistry between Desta & Elias is immediate. There are some friend feelings & eventually the revelation of some mutual less platonic inclinations. But neither man can be fully who he is or romantically with who he’d like to be with in Ethiopia, something Elias has long been all too aware of.
I loved this book. Finding Joy is romantic and sexy. It also takes on topics like misogyny, the effects of Occupation, & racism because that’s what Desta and Elias are passionate about. Other incorporated subjects include music & YA lit & Ethiopian history & food. It makes for a delectable romance.
My only quibble is that sometimes Finding Joy seems to do more telling rather than showing, but that didn’t bother me so much because while it’s DEFINITELY A ROMANCE, it also feels so travelogue-ish.
This is a beautiful story. It’s also a love song to Ethiopia and to being who you are, loving who you want to love.
Thanks to the author for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Profile Image for This Curly Arab .
105 reviews4 followers
June 18, 2020
This is a story about love and reconnecting with homeland you didnt know you were missing. In a beautifuly gentle telling of a queer love story, Adriana captures the immigrant expereince and the slow ache that comes from missing home. Everything I have read of hers has brought back such glorious memories of my own experiences from my homeland.

Desta travels to Ethiopia for his humantatian releif job knowing that he is facing the grief of losing his father head on. Desta uses the opportunity to work through his most recent breakup and comes to terms with being happy with where he is in life. He meets Elias who is pure sunshine and great feelings. The two navigate a slow and beautiful courtship despite a lot of obsticles that should keep them apart.

Adriana has this incredible way of bringing you a country and its culture and wrapping you in its warmth and tenderness. Ive never traveled to Ethiopia but Finding Joy made it feel like I was right there expereincing it with Desta and Elias. Its wonderful to read a story about black and brown queer boys finding a happily ever after. I highly recommend this book as well as any story that Adriana has written. 5 stars!

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