Published by Metal Blonde Books on April 22, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Romance
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He’s thirty-eight. I’m twenty-three.
He speaks Spanish. I speak English.
He lives in Spain. I live in Canada.
He dresses in thousand-dollar suits. I’m covered in tattoos.
He’s married and has a five-year old daughter.
I’m single and can’t commit to anyone or anything.
Until now.Because when they say you can’t choose who you fall in love with, boy ain’t that the f*#king truth.
To a restless dreamer like Vera Miles, it sounded like the experience of a lifetime. Instead of spending her summer interning for her astronomy major, she would fly to Spain where she’d spend a few weeks teaching conversational English to businessmen and women, all while enjoying free room and board at an isolated resort. But while Vera expected to get a tan, meet new people and stuff herself with wine and paella, she never expected to fall in love.
Mateo Casalles is unlike anyone Vera has ever known, let alone anyone she’s usually attracted to. While Vera is a pierced and tatted free spirit with a love for music and freedom, Mateo is a successful businessman from Madrid, all sharp suits and cocky Latino charm. Yet, as the weeks go on, the two grow increasingly close and their relationship changes from purely platonic to something…more.
Something that makes Vera feel alive for the first time.
Something that can never, ever be.
Or so she thinks.
I often wonder the process an author goes through when writing a book. When an actor prepares for a role, they will immerse themselves physically and emotionally into a character. The result can lead to an oscar worthy performance. But at what lengths do they go through? We’ve seen them lose weight or gain weight. Deny themselves sleep in order to get the correct mind-set even. Although this may seem extreme and taxing on the body, the results are undeniable. This concept stayed with me while reading Love, in English by Karina Halle. I kept picturing Karina as this emotional mess. This story couldn’t have come from someone who hadn’t dug deep. Really really deep. It must have been so cathartic when she finally typed ‘the end’ knowing that she poured her heart into this book. Yes, it’s just that amazing.
Love, in English is so much more than your typical romance. It’s about accepting who you are. It’s about not letting your past define you. It’s about allowing yourself to love in the face of adversity. It’s about embracing life and spreading your wings to fly.
Vera’s morals and values are molded by her environment first and her experiences second. What happens during her childhood has a profound and lasting effect on her as an adult. But it’s the life experiences she never expected that ultimately change her and define who she becomes. The divorce of Vera’s parents when she was young, I believe played a major role in the Vera we meet in the beginning of the book. It’s her journey and ultimately her experiences that allow her to change not only who she is but what she believes in.
“You can’t fall in love in a week,” I told her heatedly.
“You can fall in love in a second,” she said with a snap of her fingers. “The heart has no regard for time.”
I always tell my children you can’t help who you fall in love with. I believe that love knows no bounds, no color, no religion, no race, no gender. Love has this way of showing itself when you least expect it and once it takes hold it doesn’t let go, ever. When Vera travels to Spain to take part in a project teaching English to Spaniards she’s not looking for love. She’s definitely not looking for Mateo, a married man more than ten years her senior. What she does find is so much more than love.
The program, Casa de las Palabras, 20 Anglos and 20 Spaniards, in an exclusive villa outside of Madrid, for 30 days. There is limited interaction with the outside world. The idea is for the Spaniards to be fully immersed in learning English. I couldn’t help but wonder while reading, why would Vera sign up for such a program. Even though she comes across as a bit wild, she doesn’t seem like the type to just pick up and leave her home on a whim. She doesn’t even speak Spanish. She’s in college studying astronomy. She lives at home with her mother and brother. On the outside she seems to have a normal life. But she’s looking for something and I’m not entirely sure she knows what the something is. However after spending time in this bubble of Casa de las Palabras, she finds more than she could have ever imagined.
I could look at it and remember that for one month out of my life, I had a family, I had friends, and I had love at my side.
You see it’s while in Spain that Vera realizes everything that’s truly missing from her life back home. It allows her the time to reflect on her past and as a part of this she begins to so see that she’s truly very unhappy. This secluded environment gave Vera the tools to examine what was important to her. I couldn’t help but compare my own life to that of Vera’s. So many parallels could be drawn and I clung to those pages like they were my own diary.
As Vera gets closer to everyone, she finds herself especially drawn to Mateo. Vera has no intention to be anything more than friends with him. She realizes that even though their time is limited, she’s not a home wrecker. She knows from experience what that does to a family. She has no desire to be that person. But she can’t deny her feelings for Mateo and every interaction they have ultimately leads towards an expected result. A result they both fight against.
“You’re married!” I yelled. “I cannot be the other woman!”
“You already are the other woman!” he yelled right back.
The push and pull between these two characters is palpable. I found myself needing breaks between chapters sometimes. My heart was so invested in this story. It’s so emotional watching Vera as she struggles with her beliefs versus what she feels in her heart. She denys herself over and over again. Then there is Mateo who is so passionate, who also struggles with his attraction to Vera versus doing the “right” thing. Neither of them wanting to ruin what they have, friendship, yet unable to stay away.
“What is love? In English.”
I raised my brows. “Love, in English, is love…” “What is it in Spanish?” I was enthralled by his hypnotic eyes, I could barely remember. “Amore?”
He shook his head ever so slightly. “No. Love in Spanish is you.”
I have NEVER connected to a story quite like I did with this one. I have NEVER cried as much as I did reading Vera’s story. I have NEVER had a book stay with me for as long as Love, in English has stayed. The characters of Vera and Mateo are written perfectly. Karina Halle has captured the essence of Spanish culture as well as the passionate personalities of their residents.
Love, in English is simply spellbinding. It’s Karina Halle’s best writing to date. To think that it’s her first romance, just boggles my mind and I can only hope there are more stories like this to come from her. There’s a maturity to Karina Halle’s writing that we don’t often see. I recommend Love, in English to anyone who loves romance, to anyone who wants to feel deeply, to anyone who wants to go on a journey of love and self discovery.
*A copy of this book was kindly provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*