As 2021 comes to a close, I’m revisiting my 20 favorite romance novels of the year, and one of my top picks is the stellar debut by Elena Armas, The Spanish Love Deception. This fan favorite was voted GoodReads’ Debut of the Year for a good reason – it’s slow burn goodness with a mysterious and swoony hero who will sweep you off your feet. I think of it as a mix of The Hating Game and Marriage for One, which is one of the highest compliments that I can pay a romance. With light, fun, enemies to lovers vibes paired with compelling characters and an original storyline, this will keep you turning the pages late into the night. It’s an indie debut that is getting re-released in 2022, and I’m eager to read this nearly 500-page book all over again in its revised edition.
Read on for my original review and plenty of quotes to give you a feel for the vibe!
Out of the 200 romance novels I’ve read this year, this might be my favorite one. Period. This is what I call a ROMANCE; an intimate read with a torturous slow burn that absolutely captivated me and a hero that every woman needs in her life. It’s incredibly romantic, with page after page of quote-worthy text. At nearly 500 pages, I’d usually think it’s 200 too many, but… I didn’t want it to end. I ignored real life for two days and simply immersed myself in this love story, and I don’t regret it for a single second.
The story follows Lina, a woman who moved from Spain to the U.S. after a breakup left her reeling. She’s been in the States for several years now, but she’s never really moved on. So as a family wedding in Spain approaches, Lina isn’t sure how to show her family that she’s okay and isn’t stuck in the past. Her solution? Bring a fake boyfriend along for the journey. But the only man Lina can find for the role is her infuriating coworker, Aaron. They’ve been office rivals for nearly two years, and can’t be in the same room without arguing. Lina isn’t quite sure why Aaron would volunteer for the job, but desperation has her willing to agree. As the two rivals team up and show a united front, things feel more natural than anticipated… and Lina soon realizes that she never really knew Aaron at all.
Other reviewers have called this a combination of The Hating Game and Marriage for One, which, yes, is definitely why I finally picked this book up, lol. I LOVED both of those books, and while this storyline is completely different, the vibes are similar. If you liked trying to figure out what was going on inside Josh’s head during The Hating Game, then you’ll love putting together the puzzle that is Aaron. He might be my new all-time favorite hero. If the length of Marriage for One didn’t turn you off, and you loved the growth in intimacy, then you’ll delight in that aspect of this. The combination of the two? Phenomenal. The slow burn is downright delicious, and it definitely pays off by the end. This might have the best love scene I’ve ever read, and that’s because I was so completely invested in the relationship. The subtle shifts along the way built into something truly swoonworthy, and I was holding my chest with glee through some of the more romantic moments – and there were a LOT of them. I devoured every word yet didn’t want to binge too fast, because it was just that good. I don’t have a single complaint – I loved it.
A wedding. A trip to Spain. The most infuriating man. And three days of pretending. Or in other words, a plan that will never work.
Catalina Martín, finally, not single. Her family is happy to announce that she will bring her American boyfriend to her sister’s wedding. Everyone is invited to come and witness the most magical event of the year.
That would certainly be tomorrow’s headline in the local newspaper of the small Spanish town I came from. Or the epitaph on my tombstone, seeing the turn my life had taken in the span of a phone call.
Four weeks wasn’t a lot of time to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic-from NYC and all the way to Spain-for a wedding. Let alone, someone eager to play along my charade. But that didn’t mean I was desperate enough to bring the 6’4 blue eyed pain in my ass standing before me.
Aaron Blackford. The man whose main occupation was making my blood boil had just offered himself to be my date. Right after inserting his nose in my business, calling me delusional, and calling himself my best option. See? Outrageous. Aggravating. Blood boiling. And much to my total despair, also right. Which left me with a surly and extra large dilemma in my hands. Was it worth the suffering to bring my colleague and bane of my existence as my fake boyfriend to my sister’s wedding? Or was I better off coming clean and facing the consequences of my panic induced lie?
Like my abuela would say, que dios nos pille confesados.
The Spanish Love Deception is an enemies-to-lovers, fake-dating, SLOW-BURN romance. Perfect for those looking for a steamy slow-burn with the sweetest Happily Ever After.
About the Author:
Elena Armas is a Spanish writer, a self confessed hopeless romantic, and much to Mr. B’s dismay, a proud book hoarder. After years of devouring HEAs and talking (okay fine, yelling) nonstop about them, she has finally taken the leap and decided to create some of her own.
She hopes these stories make your heart skip a beat or two, your palms a little sweaty, and your cheeks flush in that rosy pink that makes other people want to peek at the page you are reading.
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More of the Best of 2021!
Top 20 of 2021: The Complete List – here
Best of 2021: Top Picks by Trope can be found here!
Best of 2021: My 10 Favorite Romance Series can be found here!
Every 5-Star Romance Novel I Read in 2021 can be found here!
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