Title: Island Affair (Keys to Love #1)
Author: Priscilla Oliveras
Page Number: 298 pages (paperback)
Genre: fiction, contemporary, romance
Publisher: Zebra Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corporation
Sought-after social media influencer Sara Vance, in recovery from an eating disorder, is coming into her own, with a potential career expansion on the horizon. Despite the good news, her successful siblings (and their perfect spouses) have a way of making her feel like the odd one out. So, when her unreliable boyfriend is a no-show for a Florida family vacation, Sara recruits Luis Navarro—a firefighter paramedic and dive captain willing to play the part of her smitten fiancé . . .
Luis’s big Cuban familia has been in Key West for generations, and his quiet strength feeds off the island’s laidback style. Though guarded after a deep betrayal, he’ll always help someone in need—especially a spunky beauty with a surprising knowledge of Spanish curse words. Soon, he and Sara have memorized their “how we met” story and are immersed in family dinners, bike tours, private snorkeling trips . . . sharing secrets, and slow, melting kisses. But when it’s time for Sara to return home, will their island romance last or fade with the stunning sunset?
There's four or five storms in the Atlantic. So....yay? I'll have to stock up and resupply my hurricane supplies if one comes my way. That's a link to the hurricane print out that's pretty useful in case anyone needs one.
And T.D. Rene means Tropical Depression Rene, it's the category before Tropical Storm. In case we're not in the know of hurricane knowledge. I know crap all about earthquakes. Every time my friend calls me from California and mentions and earthquake, I assume it's the BIG ONE. The numbers mean nothing to me.
Well, I mean yes. For the plot's sake. This is a fake romance to real romance plot so obviously that's what happens. I thought it was a sweet and slow burn between Sara and Luis. I wasn't as interested in their families but I fully understand the necessary of them to the plot. What's the point of a fake romance to please your family...if they aren't there.
I would say there is angst (between Sara's eating disorder, her family's disapproval of her career, and her mother's illness), obstacles of former relationships, family issues, and the fact that Sara doesn't live in Key West. The plot mostly pings between time spent with Sara's family or Luis' family as they settle their issues. For instance, we discover why Luis and his brother are estranged (it's a woman, what else?) and their future reconciliation is set up.
Oliveras takes some big themes in this book. We have Luis' former relationship and how that made him cold (go to therapy Luis!), we have Sara's eating disorder, and Sara's mother's illness. I was a little worried about how Oliveras was going to handle these as they're quite serious all on their own. Sara is in recovery to some degree and I thought the discussion around it was okay (it wasn't pro-ana or anything). Sara's mom is in remission/late treatment for cancer. I don't enjoy cancer story lines as that's how my mom died and would have avoided this book if I had known. That's me though. The mom's cancer and Sara's hope of keeping her mom's stress low is the reason why she's so keen on this fake relationship. Overall, Oliveras takes some deeper dives for these themes but it's overall light/happy ending. It might be something to know going in as eating disorders/drunk driving/cancer story lines could be rough. It also (for me) set a heavy tone at the beginning of the book.
There is a bit of a misunderstanding/grovelling between Luis and Sara. I'm an unforgiving jerkface, but they work it out with minimal fuss (and semi-maximal family interference).
The writing itself was okay. It was easy to read, sentence construction was well done, and I didn't see any mistakes. To be fair, I'm fairly rubbish as finding mistakes unless they're glaring but there were no glaring mistakes to me. At times there were some overwrought sentences (too angsty, too dramatic, too unrealistic). I wrote one down because I just sighed after I read it: When Sara is talking to Luis in the first couple of chapters, she introduces the topic of her mother, "Here's the bottom line. My invincible mom has been battling a nearly invincible foe for a while now."
It's just...who talks like that? It's unrealistic for a conversation. For an essay, sure, go for it. For a romance it was a bit cringe. So there are moments like that but the writing is overall fine, just not as tight as I'd have wished for. That's personal there though. I wish my writing was tighter too.
The cover is stunning, the back cover is stunning, and I received a letter from the author in the book mailer. I love stuff like that. I'm not sure if I'll continue with the series but I might. The things that knocked the book for me (occasional overwrought writing and cancer/eating disorder themes) might not continue in the next book. It's something I might take a look at regardless.
This is a 'not quite meet-cute' as they were both in bad moods, fake to real, romance. It was a nice read and my personal issues with the book were 1.) personal and 2.) stylistic preference. It was entertaining and I think the rest of the series will follow the same theme (cute, tropical romances).