Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)
I am not a regular reader of romance novels, but when a book gets very popular it can sometimes pique my interest. So it was with The Spanish Love Deception, by Elena Armas. More than 100 people on the holds list can’t be wrong, can they? As it turns out, they can, and I wish to save you from being deceived by The Spanish Love Deception.
The description on the back of the book promised the usual rom-com delights of an enemies-to-lovers fake-dating scenario, set at a wedding in sunny Spain. But the first two hundred pages of the book take place in boring New York, and the reader is equally bored with the supposed tension between zany Lina and stern Aaron. The author underscores the fact that the two hate each other so frequently that I was never able to fully buy into the change of heart that eventually happened–once they finally got to Spain.
Once the soon-to-be-lovers get to Spain, a switch is flipped and they are suddenly not only extremely attracted to one another, but also more communicative, more social, and generally nicer people. I got the feeling that the author originally wrote the New York part of the book and the Spain part of the book as two completely different stories, then tried to combine them into one narrative arc. It doesn’t work; the main characters truly seem like entirely different people in the second half.
And the one place where they seem the most different from their former selves is in the bedroom. Chatterbox Lina is suddenly a tongue-twisted, melting damsel, while gruff, terse Aaron suddenly turns tender and also uses lots and lots of words that I am not at liberty to share here. I’m no expert, but I don’t think people’s communication styles usually change that much when their clothes come off.
Speaking of communication, I have one more quibble to share. The dialogue occasionally felt stilted and unnatural. I think the author, like her character Lina, is not a native speaker of English, so I’m willing to give her a pass on less-than-perfect syntax. If the book could have passed under the eyes of a skilled editor, the dialogue might have been ironed out and seemed more realistic. But, alas, the days of actual human copy editors have passed.
Don’t waste four weeks of your life waiting for your name to creep to the top of the holds list for The Spanish Love Deception. There are lots of better options in the genre, without the wait. If you are in the market for a cute enemies-to-lovers story in a fun, exotic location, I recommend Shipped, by Angie Hockman.
Located in Adult Fiction (FIC ARMAS)