Priscilla Oliveras’ charming Keys to Love series continues with the story of Luis’ sister, Anamaría. While this book is a little less heart-pounding than the previous volume (thanks to an occasionally annoying hero), there’s still enough romance and cozy family drama to earn a recommendation from me.
Anamaría Novaro is anchored down in Key West, Florida, but she’s not really happy about it, feeling like she’s stuck between her pushy mom and her regrets she harbors for the life she could’ve led. She had plans to travel the world beside her former boyfriend and high school sweetheart, Alejandro – Ale – Miranda, but he decided to leave without her to go exploring when she decided to stay home in the wake of her father’s heart attack. Anamaría eventually became a fitness instructor with a.booming business, AM Fitness.
Alejandro loved Anamaría, but he really felt like he had to go – the act was a rebellion against the smothering atmosphere of his family home and his autocratic father’s behavior. Yet he felt betrayed by Anamaría’s choice to stay in Key West instead of following him to Spain as they’d agreed. His family still expects him to come home and take over the family restaurant, but photographer Alejandro knows that’s not his desired path. Yet now he’s back in town anyway, having injured himself in a fall off the side of a cliff while trying to get a perfect shot during his climb up the side of a waterfall in El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico.
Anamaría and Alejandro are brought back together by Alejandro’s severe leg injury, which requires rehab – and their meddling mothers, who try to push them back together. In spite of their bitter memories, the two ex-lovers begin to get closer. But can they both overcome their pasts and seek a brighter future?
Anchored Hearts isn’t my favorite Oliveras book, but it’s still worth reading for the warm way she portrays a loving – if occasionally clingy – family environment. Her love stories are always sweet and fun, even if her hero this time out annoyed me a bit.
I loved Anamaría, her understandable frustrations with her mother and her love of adventure. She had a sweet if sometimes frustrating chemistry with Alejandro; it takes a rather long time for them to realize that a long-distance relationship is a viable notion for the two of them. You can see the teenagers they both used to be underneath their reactions, and there’s something sweet and endearing about that.
But the biggest problem I had with the book was Alejandro. While I completely sympathized with and understood his issues with his dad, his inability to understand where Anamaría was coming from grated on me for a while. They were both so young when he left Key West you’d think he’d be mature enough to give her some emotional leeway, but this he does not do. Instead, he is stubborn. So stubborn. So incredibly stubborn that I groaned every time he makes another excuse up to keep on hating Anamaría for choosing to stay in Key West instead of giving up her career path, and vowing to avoid Key West forever because of his toxic issues with his dad. He does come around, but it takes so very, very long for him to do so.
As always, Oliveras nails down a spirited, full-hearted narrative filled with loveable characters. Her ability to portray the family dynamics within tradition-loving and tightly-knit Cuban families remains excellent, and her stories are touching and engrossing as well as easy to fall into. Her settings are flawlessly explored, and the minor characters are a lot of fun. I enjoyed this peek into the life Luis and Sara are living, and another visit with the loving and exasperating (in a lovely way!) Novaro family.
Anchored Hearts is good, though not perfect – worthy of a future summer fling, and a fun way to let a little romance into your mid-spring life.