Author Alana Quintana Albertson revisits La Jolla in new book, ‘Kiss Me, Mi Amor’

Alana Quintana Albertson's latest book, “Kiss Me, Mi Amor,” is set partially in La Jolla.
(Meg Marie)

The ‘Taming of the Shrew’ retelling is her second Shakespeare-inspired book, following last year’s ‘Ramon and Julieta.’ Both have main characters who live in La Jolla.


Alana Quintana Albertson marries romance with larger themes of workers’ rights and the importance to California’s economy of small, family-owned farms in her new book, “Kiss Me, Mi Amor.”

Half the book is set in a farmworker community near Santa Barbara and the other half is set in La Jolla, Barrio Logan and Encinitas. The book centers on a clash between a wealthy Mexican American family that runs a fast-food shop and a traditional Mexican family of farmworkers.

Albertson incorporates her Mexican American heritage and culture into the book based on her family’s experiences as farmworkers.

“Kiss Me, Mi Amor” is a “Taming of the Shrew” retelling, said Albertson, a Poway resident. It is her second Shakespeare-influenced book, coming as a sequel to last year’s “Ramon and Julieta,” her take on “Romeo and Juliet” in which Ramon lives in La Jolla and Julieta in Barrio Logan.

“Kiss Me, Mi Amor” features Ramon’s brother Enrique Montez, who also lives in La Jolla.

“I really wanted to show Enrique’s perfect day in his hometown,” Albertson said. “The characters have pastries at Wayfarer, do yoga at Riffs and then hang out at Calumet Park.”

“Though La Jolla can feel like a big place, I really wanted to evoke the small-town coastal vibe and sense of community Enrique feels and loves,” she said. “La Jolla is so magical, and I wanted to show that to the reader.”

The books are part of a trilogy that will be completed by “My Fair Señor,” which also will be set partially in La Jolla.

In “Kiss Me, Mi Amor,” “there’s a clash between the eldest of 10 daughters in a traditional Mexican farming family and the smooth-talking heir to a Southern California taco empire,” Albertson said.

Romance comes into play — Enrique is captivated by Carolina Flores for her spirit, intelligence and devotion to ethical farming, not to mention her beauty.

But Carolina knows Enrique is everything she doesn’t want. Despite intense pressure from her parents, she believes marriage isn’t in her future. She is from a traditional Catholic family, and Enrique is a laid-back surfer who is baffled by her way of life.

“Though La Jolla can feel like a big place, I really wanted to evoke the small-town coastal vibe and sense of community Enrique feels and loves.”

— Alana Quintana Albertson

“I loved this book because it is about a big traditional family,” said Albertson, who also explores the topics of sustainability and companies partnering with ethical farms. “I like that contrast between a traditional, old-school Mexican family and a family that’s totally different.

“I loved the big family dynamic with the 10 sisters. My mom had 10 kids in her family — nine girls and one boy. I enjoyed writing it.”

"Kiss Me, Mi Amor” by Alana Quintana Albertson
“I like that contrast between a traditional, old-school Mexican family and a family that’s totally different,“ says “Kiss Me, Mi Amor” author Alana Quintana Albertson.
(Penguin Random House)

Albertson, 47, grew up in Marin County. Aunts and uncles on her mother’s side were farmers. Her mother had worked in the fields when she was young, and her grandmother had worked in a strawberry factory, Albertson said.

Albertson received a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University in 1998 and a master’s in education from Harvard in 2003.

She always loved reading but never considered being a writer until she shared stories of being a competitive ballroom dancer with author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. Albertson was a fan of Valdes-Rodriquez, author of the novel “The Dirty Girls Social Club,” but didn’t see herself as a writer until Valdes-Rodriguez kept encouraging her down that path.

“I’m an accidental writer,” Albertson said. “It didn’t occur to me that I could actually write.”

With the publication of “Kiss Me, Mi Amor,” Albertson has written 31 books. She also is writing a book about baseball for children ages 8-12 and an adult mystery set in Poway.

“Kiss Me, Mi Amor” may become one of her most popular — it has an option for television.

In addition to writing books, Albertson is busy raising two sons, Caleb, 10, and Connor, 12, with her husband, Roger.

One of her passions is rescuing shelter dogs — more than 500 dogs have been rescued through the nonprofit she founded, Pugs N Roses, she said.

“Kiss Me, Mi Amor” is available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play and Books a Million, as well as at bookstores. Paperbacks are $17 and e-books are $10.99. ◆