I don’t usually read romance books, but I’ve had so much intense reading for class lately that I needed a fun book to read as a distraction!
The Spanish Love Deception follows Catalina, a Spanish woman living in NYC. Her sister is getting married back home in Spain, and Lina promised to bring her boyfriend as her date to the wedding. The only problem: she doesn’t have a boyfriend. But her coworker, Aaron, convinces her to take him along, and pretend to be her boyfriend.
What I liked:
The dialogue was fun, snappy, and playful. Lina and Aaron are foils to each other in many ways; Lina is loud and talkative, and Aaron is serious and quiet. Their relationship is fun to read about, and I enjoyed the dynamic between them, as well as Lina’s dynamic with her family.
The romance takes a while to happen (definitely a slow burn) but it was written well (it does get steamy!)
What I didn’t like:
The book went on a little long. I definitely think 100-200 pages could’ve easily been condensed or cut out. Because of this, the writing, including Lina’s internal narrative, often feels repetitive. We see Aaron’s description literally every chapter; I got a little tired of reading about his blue/ocean eyes and huge/bulky physique.
That being said, if you’re looking for a fun romance, specifically enemies to lovers, an office romance, and the fake dating trope, consider picking this one up.
I reached my goal of reading 50 books in 2020, and then I actually surpassed it by reading 51.
My top 10 books won’t be a surprise; I’ve reviewed most of them here already. However, I will include a short blurb about each one as a refresher.
Without further ado, here are my top 10 books of 2020, in no particular order!
Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas
Maas is a guilty pleasure of mine. Her books have a way of wholly drawing you into her worlds, and this one was no different. Crescent City is a new adult, brash urban fantasy that follows Bryce, a half-fae. She teams together with Hunt, a fallen angel, to solve the mystery of her best friend’s murder. Craziness and romance ensue.
Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Hardinge is one of my favorite writers; she always kills it! Deeplight is a slowburn YA fantasy with deaf representation that centers around toxic friendships. It has a large dose of monstrous sea gods. It’s an imaginative, dark, and wonderfully written book.
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
While categorized as YA, I found that this West-African inspired fantasy book leaned more towards adult. I loved the writing, the intricate worldbuilding, and the plot. The plot itself is hard to explain; you’ll have to pick it up!
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
While this historical fantasy starts out slow and a bit confusing, it morphs into a lyrical story about family and belonging. It’s full of other dimensions, and, you guessed it, doors.
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
This retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” is dark and gothic. The story focuses on sisterhood and death/murder, with a fun dose of dancing at balls to balance it all out.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
This is a coming-of-age story and a retelling of the Greek myth of Achilles and Patroclus. It follows the romantic relationship of the two characters up until the Trojan War. Miller’s writing is fantastic, and she’s a Greek mythology genius.
Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst
Race the Sands follows two women in the desert world of Becar, where you can ride monstrous creatures called kehoks, who are reincarnated from the worst of the worst people in a past life. The story focuses on reincarnation, determination, and carving your own path in the world, and I found it to be a refreshing fantasy read.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
This is whimsical and heartwarming, a great change of pace for adult fantasy. It follows Linus, a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, who is given an assignment to inspect an island full of magical children classified as dangerous.
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
This YA, Welsh inspired historical fantasy follows Ryn, a gravedigger who begins to notice that the dead are rising, and teams together with a boy named Ellis. It’s a classic journey story with great characters and an enjoyable plot. I loved the fresh take on zombies, or “bone houses.”
The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
Finally, a contemporary romance book somehow made it onto my list! I enjoyed this book far more than I anticipated. I loved the funny, snappy dialogue, the characters, and the romance. The focus on music, and the inclusion of the playlist, only added to the story.
Honorary re-read favorites: The Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
I read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom in 2018, and though I immediately classified them as some of my favorite books, I had forgotten a lot of the plot. I absolutely loved re-reading them in 2020! They’re Bardugo’s best works, in my opinion, with an intricate world and plot, and very well-drawn characters that you’ll be rooting for from the beginning (even the morally grey ones).
My 2021 reading goal is to branch out a little more outside of YA fantasy. My classes will help with this, of course (I can’t believe I’ll finish my last semester in 2021!) I also currently have Kindle Unlimited, and I’m excited to dive into some thrillers and historical fiction!