Book Review | Hot Tamara | Mary Castillo

What Would Wonder Woman Do?
Is it worth going against the express wishes of your family and friends to pursue your personal dreams? What would Wonder Woman do?

“Who was she kidding? No one, not even Wonder Woman possessed the powers to say no to Susanna Contreras.”
Narrative, Ch. 6, pg. 52, para. 13

Within the Leaves of Hot Tamara

Tamara Contreras, comes from a very traditional Mexican-American family. Her educational pursuits, teaching career and future husband, Rueben, were chosen for her by her family.

At the age of 26, Tamara decides she is finally old enough to take control of her own life and plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue art education and a long time dream of opening her own gallery. 

She just needs to break the news to her domineering mother and long time boyfriend, Ruben.

Having made her decision, she shows up to a family wedding rehearsal barbeque sporting a new haircut and a new clothing style which her mother and Ruben both quickly and quietly criticize.

Her new look catches the attention of Will Benavides, a former high school classmate and the bad boy Tamara secretly crushed on back then.

Ruben, having assured Tamara and her mother that Tamara’s hair will grow out and she can dress more maturely when she goes back to teaching, decides to forgive her little transgression and surprises her by proposing publicly. 

With her building confidence she turns him down.

“I,” she started, her voice ringing out, “I think thank you, I don’t think I-“
She looked up at her mom. Seeing the look of horror dawn on her face, Tamara wished she could’ve just played along and said yes,
“I have to go to the bathroom,” she said, then turned and ran.
Tamara, Ch. 2, pg. 17, para 3 - 5

At the wedding reception, Will finds Tamara hiding away and crying. She explains to him that she just found out she was turned down by USC and explained how that University was the cornerstone of her all future plans to open her own art gallery. 

They end up in a really hot kiss and discover that the sparks they both carried since they were kids never really cooled off.

Estranged from her mother after moving to LA she finds out that Will is a fireman there by day and a reluctant but talented artist by night. His life like paintings are highly sought after by the gallery owner she works for, which offers Tamara a way to impress her harsh new boss. 

When Will learns Tamara is working at the gallery pursuing his works, he asks her out and they fan old sparks into new flames.

Problem is, to pursue her dream as a gallery owner, she will need to leave LA, and Will, behind to attend University in another city.

Can Tamara figure out a way to make All her dreams come true?

Sweet-Tea Rating for Hot Tamara: 
 Sugar Lumps

I loved the cover and picked up the book figuring with a cover like that it had to be a fun and lively read.

It is.

The Cast: 

Tamara Contreras has had every major decision in her life made for her by her mother Susan and her long time boyfriend Ruben. At the age of 26 she finally found her inner Wonder Woman and struck out on her own. 

Better late than never.

She not only has courage, but resilience, tolerance, budgeting skills, humour and empathy. There is so much more to Tamara as the story moves along, that most readers will be able to find her easy to identify with at some point.

The cast over all are quite something. 

Nadine, the gallery owner that Tamara works for, is off the charts scattered, strong and vulnerable.

Jesse has a big heart and is a loyal, honest friend whom you want around any chance you can get him away from his girlfriend.

Isa is kind of in the same boat as we find Tamara at the beginning of the story, but finds her pillar of strength in a most unexpected ally.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Senora Allende (and she would probably let me know it too!). Though much about her day to day may be old world traditional, the lady herself is not. I love her decisiveness, her benevolent interference and her kind gentle heart.

Character I would most like to share a Cuppa with:

I would love to sit and share a cuppa with the Julius Aguilar. Every now and then a girl likes to have the socks charmed off of her and I think he could do it in a most gentlemanly fashion.

He tipped his Cuban-style fedora when Senora Allende looked their way. “Que bella. Not too many like her around, eh?”
Senor Aguilar, Ch. 30, pg 238, para 14

Element Ratings for Hot Tamara

Story Flow: 

Most of the physical story takes place in LA where the city seems to be moving quickly around Tamara, yet she finds a way to experience her new found freedom and interests at a measured pace.

This does not make the story read slowly though.

The emotional subplot between Tamara and her mother Susan fills in the breaks from the LA happenings with segues that make sense and give some foundation to where we find Tamara when we go back to the LA story.

The book would have read choppy and slow had it been only one story or the other. Together these co-plots weave a suspenseful page turner.

Nail Biting: 

Will has long been heads over heels for Tamara and he has long churned in Tamara’s fantasies. So when an alone Tamara crosses paths with Will, a known element in LA, it was almost inevitable they would at least hook up.

Where the nail biter was for me sat mainly in the subplot with Susan. I was glued to the pages wondering what she was going to do next and if she would turn into a bitter hag or choose to find a new relationship with her daughter. 


This wasn’t a case of insta-love. There was a lot of left over lust from their high school days that finally had a chance to get out. It was a good, but purely physical, reason to get together.

Will and Tamara come from such different backgrounds, but slowly discovered they have so much in common and strong similarities in what they they both want out of family life.

I think these two will work out for the long haul.


Will is a firefighter, takes care of and respects his elders, has an artistic soul and shares his emotions. He also cooks, mows the lawn, and will re-tile a bathroom.

Total Keeper.

Emotion Coaster: 

I could totally relate to Tamara’s journey of striking it out on her own without the blessing of her family. I did the same when I moved out West. I really appreciate that her struggle and determination was kept realistic and not everything miraculously landed in her lap when it was needed.

I was very caught up in the story between Tamara and Susan and fascinated by how Mary Castillo managed to keep all the secondary characters reactions and actions consistent with each created personality.

I loved, loved, loved the mysterious goings on between Senor Aguilar and Senora Allende. Makes me hopeful for the future!

Isa’s story left me hanging and I can’t wait to dig into her book. I hope she finds her happily ever after. Just not with Rueben (fingers crossed).

Hot-Tea Rating for Hot Tamara: 

Will and Tamara spend a lot of evenings in bed together, some of their bed sport is described, most is implied. There’s lots of it.

The Last Drop:

There are a lot of Spanish phrases used throughout the book and I liked the heavy cultural references. I am not personally familiar with the Spanish language and the phrases that were not interpreted in the story I could kind of get the jist of. 

There was enough similarity in the words to my limited cereal box French that I could take a close guess. Still I found it a fascinating glimpse into a culture I really have had no exposure to. 

Over all, I enjoyed this story. There are many parallels to my on my own story of striking out and Tamara’s. I am certain many others will be able to see reflections of their own personal journeys as well. 

The subplots are so relatable that Hot Tamara will stick with the reader for a long time after closing the back cover.

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