Author: Priscilla Oliveras
Narrator: Carmen Vine
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 30 minutes
USA Today bestselling author Priscilla Oliveras launches a new romantic comedy series set in Key West, Florida and filled with humor, Latinx culture, and fun family dynamics perfect for summer beach reading…
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 fake relationship fade like the stunning sunset . . . or blossom into something beautiful?
Island Affair is the first standalone novel in the Keys to Love series. This novel caught my attention due to its similarities to The Unhoneymooners, which features a similar tropical cover plus a couple in forced proximity on vacation. This story follows social media influencer, Sara Vance, and firefighter, Luis Navarro, who meet at the Key West Airport. Sara is on a family vacation and ends up in an agreement with Luis to stand in as her significant other when her original plan falls through.
The initial set-up for this fake-dating scenario is one that will sit differently with every reader. The two characters meet briefly in the airport and have a conversation that leads to them agreeing to being a fake couple for a little over a week. Insta-lust is the driving force as they both are very attracted to the other and each has their reasons for wanting to agree to this arrangement. The time and other factors all working themselves out in what seems to be a few seconds were a little too convenient for my taste along with the speed they developed feelings for each other.
Luis has a complex backstory that is revealed little by little as the story moves forward. This involves his complicated relationship with his brother and an ex-girlfriend. I can understand the intent to give Luis this “tragic” backstory, but I do not think it was handled with the best amount of care. This was a very difficult dynamic on Luis’s side as I wanted to like Luis and even his brother, but neither really came across as likable.
I had a difficult time fully comprehending Sara’s complicated relationship with her family. I understood right away the animosity between her and her siblings, but I could not connect to her the supposed complex relationship with her parents. This is mainly due to never seeing it and having to trust in Sara’s presentation of the relationship. There is a lot of discussion about how Sara feels inferior due to her being the only non-doctor in the family plus she has been dealing with her eating disorder for years, but it just seemed like I was missing something. I could be entirely wrong, and it was included in the story, but it just seemed that her inferiority came from being left out when her family attended medical conferences or other related events together. For me, I just did not understand it as Sara could not be with her family during those events, but efforts could have been made to find other ways and I wanted more to fully connect to Sara and her complex family dynamics.
Overall, I cannot commentate on the eating disorder use in the story in the sense of how well it was portrayed, however, it seemed an odd choice to use a lot of language focusing on well-toned and conventionally attractive features for a lot of the characters a lot on page. While Luis is more closed off with his emotions, Sara puts hers all out in the open. This was a little imbalanced, especially in the short time the characters spent together, which made it difficult to fully connect with them as a couple. There is a lot of potential in this story and the physical chemistry between the two characters was apparent, however, I needed a little more to make this story fantastic!
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