Author: Mia Sosa
Audiobook Version: 10 hours, 1 minute
Mia Sosa delivers a sassy, steamy #ownvoices enemies-to-lovers novel, perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Helen Hoang, and Sally Thorne!
A wedding planner left at the altar? Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials.
Marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning—absolutely off-limits—ex-fiancée. And she loathes him.
If they can nail their presentation without killing each other, they’ll both come out ahead. Except Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own.
Soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…
I will start by saying that this novel might not be for everyone as the initial concept is more out there as the main female love interest is the ex-fiancé of the male love interest’s brother. Although the story for how this would work was very well-done, if you, as a reader, are not a fan or believe you could be a fan of this concept, then it is just easier to skip it in favor of other novels. For me, it is still a weird concept as you wonder how that actually would work in the long run, but curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give this novel a try and I’m glad I did as it was surprisingly entertaining and well thought out.
Carolina (“Lina”) is a wedding planner/coordinator who is self-employed. On the day she was supposed to marry Andrew, his brother, Max, informs her that the wedding is off as Andrew no longer wishes to get married. Jilted by this sudden departure of her fiancé, she becomes more closed off than she was before, even though she never fully opened herself up to many people in general. Not only does she not open herself up in her everyday life, she closes herself off in her professional one as she does not want to be labeled an emotional woman. The book describes this situation well where typically males can have a tantrum in the workplace and no one bats an eye, but a female would be shunned in the same situation, even if they were less emotional than their male counterpart. Although this is not the case in every workplace, it does happen and is something that is very relatable to those that have either seen it or experienced themselves.
Two years after the failed marriage ceremony, Lina is still a thriving career driven woman who is a brilliant wedding planner to the point that she gets recruited for a hotel group job interview. The only catch is that the accountants that are part of the interview process happen to be Andrew and Max, who both work for their mother’s marketing company. To not lose any points from her former connection to them, Lina pretends not to know them in front of Rebecca, the hotel group manager and the one making the final call for the job. Max and Andrew both go along with it and do not call Lina out for the omission. Lina ends up getting paired with Max for the job interview presentation while Andrew gets paired with Henry, the competition. There is no mention of Henry‘s part of the story aside from the brief lines where Andrew talks about the progress for the presentation.
Lina blames Max for talking Andrew out of getting married, as that is the story that Andrew gave. This creates initial tension between the two characters and a lot of animosity to work through, even though they need to work together for the sake of Lina’s potential new job. Max wants Lina to forgive him and ends up having the initial crush on her, so he decides the best course of action is to be patient and calm while he tries to prove himself to Lina. Surprisingly, Andrew’s role in this story as the ex-fiancé was a lot smaller than I thought and I wish it was explored more considering the only reason Max and Lina have a chance at romance is because Andrew left Lina at the altar. The two of them share great banter and have excellent communication for the most part as they talk things through, eventually, once they actually get on closer speaking terms. The communication does go in waves, though, so it is difficult to understand why it is great in some places and not in others when it would not occur this way in reality (difficult to describe fully without spoiling anything). Slowly as they spend more time together, Lina shares more of her Brazilian culture with Max and I loved that this side of Lina gets shown as it was really interesting to learn about both the traditions and the food!
As I did the audiobook version of the book, the narration was very hit and miss for me based on the two narrators. Rebecca Mozo voiced the chapters from Lina’s point of view while Wayne Mitchell voiced chapters from Max’s. Their pacing was great and it kept the story moving while making the reading sound natural. Although the two of them did fantastic jobs voicing their own characters, it did not work as well when they voiced the other characters. Both narrators took different tones/voices/takes on the side characters so it made it difficult to connect with the individual personalities for the characters as it would change based on who was voicing them. Rebecca also tended to use her voice the entire time, while Wayne changed his voice to “match” the gender of the other characters (higher pitches for females and lower for other males). For me, I would have preferred just using the same voice tones/pitches across the board and instead focused only on changing the voices to match the tones/moods based on the events. I absolutely loved Rebecca’s Portuguese, though, as she did a respectable job and it sounded great, although I’m not an expert as I don’t speak the language.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed Mia Sosa’s novel and cannot wait to read the next one, The Wedding Crasher, when it releases in 2022. This story was very entertaining, but there were some areas that could have been improved to make it even better. Max discusses his insecurity when it comes to his brother and his family, but it does not get explored enough in the writing. I am glad I went with the audiobook version of this novel as I loved hearing the Portuguese spoken out loud rather than being imagined in my head. Despite a reader’s trepidations about a woman having potential feelings for her ex-fiancé’s brother, I feel that this book did the story justice as it gave some depth to the character’s thoughts and feelings about the other and how the attraction was not enough to immediately pursue a relationship. I wish there was an epilogue, so we can see what happened after the last line in the story and get a glimpse into the future. The writing was relatable and light-hearted, though, that it was a fun read and I liked Mia’s general style. The story was fun and I would recommend it for a nice quick listen (as I did the audiobook) or read.