Catalina ‘Lina’ Martín has made a huge mistake. She has promised her family in Spain that she will be attending her sister’s wedding with her American boyfriend. The problem is, she doesn’t actually have an American boyfriend. She doesn’t have any boyfriend..not even a potential one. So now her options are either find a boyfriend in a matter of weeks, or admit to her family that she doesn’t have a date, and face attending the wedding alone. A wedding that her ex-boyfriend will be at, along with his new fiancee.

When her work nemesis, Aaron Blackford, steps in and offers to be her fake date to the wedding, Catalina refuses to consider it. Aaron is insufferable, pompous and the last person she wants to spend time with, never mind introduce him to her family. But as time goes by, Catalina starts to realise that maybe she has no other choice.

The Spanish Love Deception was released on February 21st 2021, and very quickly became hugely popular in the book world. Blowing up on booktok and Instagram, it seems that almost everyone has read it, and has an opinion about it. I am no different, and my opinion is….*drum roll*….I did not like it. Such a pity, because I really had high hopes for this one.

Self published by Elena Armas, a Spanish writer (and book reviewer), this debut novel is an ‘enemies to lovers’, ‘grumpy meets sunshine’, ‘fake dating’ lovers theory anyway. The fact that it has been on the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers list, as well as winning the Goodreads Choice Awards for best debut novel (as well as being nominated for best romance novel) shows just how popular and well received this novel has been. It just wasn’t for me. There are a number of reasons that this novel wasn’t for me.

There are a number of things that I didn’t like about this book:

  • It was predictable. I knew from roughly the second chapter just how this book would end. I just feel like I’ve read this book so many times before (50 Shades of Grey, The Love Hypothesis, Ugly Love etc etc). I have no problems with happy ever afters, but sometimes I wish they took a different route.
  • I did not like Aaron. So many readers have proclaimed him to be the ‘perfect’ man (again, he brings to mind Christian Grey, Owen Gentry etc) – he’s rich, successful, he’s handsome, and he’s slightly tormented. He’s caring, and protective, and charming. He’s also controlling, domineering and just a bit toxic. The author herself admits that she didn’t base him on any real person, and she acknowledges that he is cheesy and unrealistic. I didn’t think he took care of Catalina so much as took control of her, and treated her almost like a child. Which leads to me to my next point…
  • Catalina was done dirty in this book in my opinion. She came across as slightly needy, naive and clueless. She had no concept of her own worth (proven by the fact that she felt she needed to show up to her sister’s wedding with a boyfriend, for fear that she would look somehow ‘less than’ her sleazy ex-boyfriend and his new fiancee) when in actual fact, she is a 28 year old woman, living alone in one of the busiest and most cut throat cities in the world, making a career for herself as a team leader in an engineering company – the same role as Aaron! She is more than enough by herself, and honestly, I would have preferred if the happy ever after in this novel was her realising that.
  • The writing style. This is a small gripe, and is completely a personal opinion, but the lack of contractions in the dialogue bothered me so much (ie often the characters would say ‘you are’ instead of ‘you’re’ or ‘you do not’ instead of ‘you don’t’). Perhaps it’s because I don’t naturally speak / think that way, and so it seemed unnatural and jarring to me, but it just kept pulling me out of the story. That is entirely personal preference though.

So, it’s safe to say that overall, I just wasn’t a fan of this book. I can see why so many are, it’s a charming, quick and easy read, and I did initially like it more than I do now. The author wrote this book as a book that she herself would love to read, and used her experience as a reader and reviewer to write the story, and I do think that’s evident in the novel – it is very much the type of book that booktok and instagram reviewers go crazy for generally..especially the ones who enjoy the tropes I mentioned earlier. It just, sadly, wasn’t for me.

It certainly won’t put me off trying the author’s next novel, The American Roommate Experiment, which is due to be released in September of this year. I just hope the problems I found with this novel won’t be repeated in the next one.

I rated The Spanish Love Deception 2.5 stars.

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