The kidnapping of the daughter of a prominent Mexican banker forces the young woman to face uncomfortable truths about her sheltered upbringing.
Beautiful Ximena Villarreal, with curves in all the right places and a dancer’s legs, is practically Mexican royalty, the only daughter of one of the richest bankers in the country. She lives with few cares, insulated from the hard truths of the less fortunate, until one evening when her mother’s car is run off the road, their chauffeur killed, and Ximena kidnapped by a quartet of beastly criminals. Unfortunately for the band, just moments before her abduction, Ximena had reconnected with her dashing, judo-trained cousin, Alejandro Montalban, their short reunion reigniting a passion between them that spurs Alejandro to stage a dramatic rescue. These events force Ximena to look at her life anew and for the first time ask herself what she wants, and whether her boyfriend Tommy, with his ambition and model good looks, and her father, who wishes to move the couple to Spain, truly have her best interests in mind. Alejandro seems to offer an alternative, sharing with her his plans to create quality affordable housing for Mexico’s neediest. But he is her cousin, and a dark family secret may make any future together, as friends or more, impossible. In her novel, Galindo (Habitantes de Mi Tiempo, 2009) dresses up Ximena’s coming-of-age story with a distinctive Hispanic flair and culture, both in the opulence of its protagonist’s high-class upbringing and the natural beauty of the more rural areas outside of Mexico City, from the forests to the beaches. It’s as easy to fall in love with the country as it is Ximena herself. Her quirks make up for any immaturity, with her affinity for Tootsie Rolls with Champagne as charming as it is telling, and her bravery under the threat of violence and rape marking her as no pushover. Most of the characters in the novel are fairly one-note, from Ximena’s domineering father and manipulative boyfriend to the salivating kidnappers. But the interactions between Ximena and Alejandro shine, their rapport exuberant and flirty, allowing them to grow beyond the legs and abs that seem to draw the two together.
A little bit of thriller, a little bit of romance make this coming-of-age story a lot of fun.