The Spanish Love Deception
The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas has gotten a lot of attention in the romance community, and also became a NYT bestseller upon paperback release. I’d heard good things, although the book has also got some negative feedback, and I was excited to read it.
Catalina – Lina – Martín is returning to Spain to attend her sister’s wedding, and she desperately needs a date – her ex-boyfriend is engaged, and she cannot show up pathetically alone – and to her great surprise, her coworker Aaron offers to go with her. They’re not friends – after getting off on the wrong foot, they’ve been barely civil. Still, as the wedding grows closer, Aaron starts surprising Lina, and she wonders if her taciturn coworker might be better company than first impressions indicated.
I really did enjoy this book, though it didn’t bowl me over. Lina’s is a very vivid depiction of a young woman in recovery from trauma and trying to succeed in her field. She feels very human and flawed, and she’s self-aware of the ways in which she can’t fully realize her hopes. She hasn’t had a romantic relationship recently because of her inability to trust, and she’s not able to consciously take that step without great trepidation. She still does have close friendships and positive working relationships, but Lina has mostly closed herself off to love. Aaron works as a love interest and his characterization is at least consistent, but he’s a little flatter as a character then I would like. My main issue with the book overall is that we’re told more about the way he looks – the readers who talked about how often Aaron’s blue eyes are mentioned and how big he is were not exaggerating – than about his internal life, and I had to infer a lot until the midpoint of the story. Still, the romance is pretty strong on the whole, with the central obstacles being a lack of communication and Lina’s trust issues.
I liked the trip to Spain itself. Lina’s family is the perfect blend of loving and concerned, involved in her life but not too meddling. Lina standing up for herself, both in a work setting and with her ex, were some of my favorite parts of the story.
However, the book is a little bloated; trimming it down in some places would have made it stronger, and the pacing is a bit off because of the story being so front-loaded. The tension flags in places because too much pre-trip ground is laid; the plot can’t really get going until Lina and Aaron are in Spain, and that doesn’t happen as soon as it should.
I also noted a lot of similarities to The Hating Game and The Love Hypothesis here. Obviously, there are going to be some common threads in enemies-to-lovers workplace romances, but this one doesn’t feel too derivative; it handles the premise better than most and isn’t too formulaic. I did think the book would have benefited from dual points of view, to give the reader context for Aaron’s feelings for Lina. In the end, I found The Spanish Love Deception to be fairly average but enjoyable. I’m not surprised it has become so popular, given that it hits the same beats as a lot of mainstream books right now, but I didn’t fall in love with it.
Visit our Amazon Storefront