Last year, The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Arrmas was one of the many hypes on Booktok. Although I haled the book almost immediately, I just didn’t pick it up. Untill now. Was it worth the hype or yet another Booktok disappointment for me?
Title: The Spanish Love Deception
Author: Elena Armas
Series: Spanish Love Deception #1
Publication date: February 23, 2021
Publisher: Independently published, picked up by Atria Books in 2022
Number of pages: 482
Catalina Martín desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially since her little white lie about her American boyfriend has spiralled out of control. Now everyone she knows—including her ex and his fiancée—will be there and eager to meet him.
She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic and aid in her deception. New York to Spain is no short flight and her raucous family won’t be easy to fool.
Enter Aaron Blackford—her tall, handsome, condescending colleague—who surprisingly offers to step in. She’d rather refuse; never has there been a more aggravating, blood-boiling, and insufferable man.
But Catalina is desperate, and as the wedding draws nearer, Aaron looks like her best option. And she begins to realize he might not be as terrible in the real world as he is at the office.
When Catalina’s sister is getting married back home in Spain, she has a problem. She desperately needs to bring a date, because her family keeps pushing her with the question whether she already has a new relationship. She hasn’t, so she needs to go fake dating. Her colleague Aaron Blackford, whom she can’t stand at all, spontaneously offers his help by going to Spain with Lina. After doubting a long time about it, Lina accepts his offer. Will they stay enemies or is this fake dating thing becoming something real?
The story starts with the problem straight away. In the first chapter, we witness a conversation between Lina and her colleague – and best friend – Rosie about the wedding in Spain and that Lina desperately needs a date for this. Aaron overhears this conversation and immediately jumps in to offer his help. This conversation sets the thone for the book, because of Lina’s and Rosie’s behaviour towards Aaron. In my opinion, they act very juvenile, something you don’t expect from people who will be turning 30 very soon (Lina’s age is mentioned in the novel) and definitely not at work. Unfortunately, this juvenile behaviour stays the same throughout the entire book. Because we only read from Lina’s POV, we get all her thoughts including her inner monologues and these are more suitable for teen girls. For me, she wasn’t a nice character to get to know. Aaron on the onter hand was more interesting to read about. From what Armas provided us with, he has more depth to his character. Unfortunately, this depth hasn’t been explored further. He stays very shallow.
Besides the characters, the plot itsself is shallow as well. Although the book is very big with more than 500 pages, the story never gets explored in depth. It all falls flat too quickly. The first part of the novel is very slow and is used to build up the tention for the wedding in Spain. However, this part takes too long. When the setting actually moves to Spain, it all feels very rushed. Despite the rush, this second part is the strongest of the book. Then, there’s a third part back in new York City which even feels more rushed. In this final part some themes such as sexism get mentioned, but in my opinion Armas moves away from it too quick. Furthermore, we get to see a glimpse of Aaron’s past, but again it’s just a glimpse.
For me, the blurb and the title set the wrrong expectations. I expected this book to be set in Spain for like 95% of the time and just a little bit of the story would take place back home in NYC. However, it was the other way around. Like 90% of the novel takes place in NYC and just a tiny part actually takes places in Spain. Okay, flying from NYC to Spain for a wedding and staying there just for 3 days with a huge jetlag as a result is quite unrealistic. This fact, combined with the pace being unbalanced and the shallow characters and plot, makes me really wonder why this book is so hyped. I don’t understand it at all. Moreover, to me it feels like a copy off The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, another popular book on social media. I recognize way too much from that book in The Spanish Love Deception. Therefore, it all felt so cliché which made me very disappointed. If you are looking for a novel with some more depth into story and characters, this is not your cup of tea.