TITLE : Island Affair ( Keys To Love #1)
AUTHOR : Priscilla Oliveras
GENRE : Adult, Romance, Contemporary Romance, Chick-lit, Women’s Fiction
FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Kensington Books for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Island Affair is the first book to a brand new series called Keys To Love. The story is set in Key West with the island as a backdrop to this romance story. The author’s love for Key West is very evident in this book. I loved the island setting and how the location felt like an integral part of the story highlighting the Cuban culture, food, and scenery all around. The entire setting for the book was simply amazing and I loved it. I could see the author’s love for the island coming through in the story.
Sara is a social media influencer who is taking a family vacation in Key West. Her whole family has decided to be together for one-week to spend time with their mother who is recovering from cancer. Their family is very driven and her parents and siblings are all in the medical field. Her job as a social media influencer was not well received and she often felt their judgment of her career. All of this serves as a trigger for her eating disorder. Sara was raised by her nanny who was more of a mother to her than her mom and so her connection with her family is not very close and she finds it difficult to be part of her family unit. Her goal for this vacation is to show her family that she is capable of handling her life and also be successful at it. The plan goes down the drain when her boyfriend ditched the vacation and failed to inform her. She meets Luis the firefighter-paramedic who was forced to take 1-week leave due to some recent events in his work life. They make a pact to fake date to help her family to stay off her back and also help her out with connecting with her family in a better way. Luis is Cuban and has been raised in Key West, he is also dealing with a lot of personal issues and the story takes us through their combined journey and also individual journeys where they resolve their issues and move forward as a stronger version of themselves.
Sara is someone who is going through a lot of baggage from her past that she has carried into her present. Her whole life she has felt as if she wasn’t enough for her very career-driven and academic family. She struggled with her shortcomings and not being able to handle their disappointment in her when it comes to her education, career, and life in general. Her family’s disappointment caused severe stress and led to her eating disorder. Her lack of a good bond between her parents and her siblings affected her mental and emotional state. I really liked her as a character. She was strong and vulnerable at the same time. I loved how she wasn’t afraid to take risks and her willingness and strength to put herself out there with her emotions and feelings is really commendable. I enjoyed her growth as a character and how she wasn’t afraid to choose herself and demanding the best from everyone else as well. Sara was a well -rounded likable character you want to root for.
Luis is nicknamed Saint by the people around him as he is the nice guy who has the savior complex and is always the one to help people out and willing to go the extra mile to do good things for others. He is a genuine guy who loves his family and has a very close relationship with everyone in his family. He is loyal, steadfast, and wonderful. Life dealt him with some unfortunate events that left his life upside down and he became a bit closed-off towards people emotionally to avoid getting hurt. He is also dealing with family problems and his being with Sara opens his eyes to what an open and genuine conversation could do. We see him blaming his brother initially to how he faces the issue head-on and then moving on with his life with a better outlook on life and a better mindset.
I love fake-dating trope and so I was really excited to start on this one. Though the story started out kind of insta-romancey, the characters had good chemistry and their banter and conversations made it easy to accept them as a couple. The whole story happens in the span of a week, so if you can suspend disbelief at the possibility of 2 people falling for each other in such a short time-frame, you will enjoy this story. Sara and Luis were adorable and I loved how sweet and nice Luis was. He is definitely what I would call a good hero. Sara is a strong character with baggage that makes her vulnerable and insecure at times. Her struggle with eating disorders is also realistically portrayed, even though the author doesn’t delve deeper into the issue. The family dynamics and how each of them deals with their respective families were an interesting contrast to see. Both of the characters were wonderfully written and their family backgrounds and the importance of familial bonds were one of my favorites parts of the story. I love how they dealt with complicated issues and helped each other out as well.
The book is a fun romance read with likable characters and interesting family dynamics. I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series, fingers crossed it’s about Enrique. The story could have been much more amazing if the characters didn’t meet in such an obviously coincidental way and jumped right into the deep end of fake-dating head-first from day one without any hesitation. I did wish they had some more time before they decided to date to make it more believable and also realistic. They definitely had a lot of chemistry and we could see it and so it doesn’t feel that difficult to accept it either. Overall the book was really good, I enjoyed the characters, their strengths, and how they were willing to come together as a family to grow into a better unit. The setting of the story was really good with the love for the island shining through the pages. The Cuban references, culture, and Spanish phrases all added to the story very well. The couple and their dynamics were very good with excellent chemistry. Yes, it felt very quick but I still enjoyed it and they had more conversations, some tough ones too before they became an official couple. That makes it more believable in my opinion. I loved this story and I think this a fun beach read with the island setting bringing in the perfect mood for this book. I am giving the book 4 stars and highly recommend checking it out if you love good characters, family dynamics, personal growth and a cute couple.
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 island romance last or fade with the stunning sunset?