Book Reviews: Hotel Portofino & The Spanish Love Deception

Hotel Portofino by J.P. O’Connell

Book Cover

Goodreads blurb: Hotel Portofino has been open for only a few weeks, but already the problems are mounting for its owner Bella Ainsworth. Her high-class guests are demanding and hard to please. And she’s being targeted by a scheming and corrupt local politician, who threatens to drag her into the red-hot cauldron of Mussolini’s Italy.  To make matters worse, her marriage is in trouble, and her children are still struggling to recover from the repercussions of the Great War. All eyes are on the arrival of a potential love match for her son Lucian, but events don’t go to plan, which will have far reaching consequences for the whole family.  Set in the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera, Hotel Portofino is a story of personal awakening at a time of global upheaval and of the liberating influence of Italy’s enchanting culture, climate, and cuisine on British “innocents abroad,” perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and The Crown

This is an ARC review thanks to a gift from the publisher, the book comes out May 17, 2022

My take: 3 out of 5. This book was an interesting read, as I think I had a very different view of it and its start and its finish. I loved the concept of it, it felt like an upstairs downstairs feel in a Portofino setting which is one of my favorite places in the world. And although the book was really enjoyable, this might be the case of too many characters and storylines and not enough actually happening. If this was a series I would definitely need a season 2. I would summarize it as lots of potential, great characters but not so great ending.

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Book Cover

Goodreads blurb: 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.

My take: 4 out of 5. This was a wonderful book. I totally dug all the Spanish references, which really makes me wish there were more latin romance and chick flick authors. At first I was not digging the enemies to lovers trope, it felt very much like Hating Game revisited. However, as the book went on, I really fell for the characters and it became much more than the stereotypical trope. It had intricacies’, and the characters motivations were very well developed.. Highly recommended. Warning for those who want the info: This is definitely not a closed door romance.

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