Hello my bookish friends! I am back with a review of ANCHORED HEARTS by Priscilla Oliveras. It is the second book in the Keys to Love series, but it can be read as a standalone. This is a second-chance, friends-to-'enemies'-to-lovers romance that I read as part of the Latin Book Nook's Latine Book Bingo.
If you don't know, September 15 - October 15 is Latinx/e Heritage Month in the US. This year, I got to join a great group doing a romance/adult book specific book bingo. It was a lot of fun, especially seeing other readers get excited for new-to-them Latinx authors.
Anyway, onto the review.
Award-winning photographer Alejandro Miranda hasn’t been home to Key West in years—not since he left to explore broader horizons with his papi’s warning “never to come back” echoing in his ears. He wouldn’t be heading there now if it wasn’t for an injury requiring months of recuperation. The drama of a prodigal son returning to his familia and their beloved Cuban restaurant is bad enough, but coming home to the island paradise also means coming face to face with the girl he left behind—the one who was supposed to be by his side all along . . .
Anamaría Navarro was shattered when Alejandro took off without her. Traveling the world was their plan, not just his. But after her father’s heart attack, there was no way she could leave—not even for the man she loved. Now ensconced in the family trade as a firefighter and paramedic, with a side hustle as a personal trainer, Anamaría is dismayed that just the sight of Alejandro is enough to rekindle the flame she’s worked years to put out. And as familia meddling pushes them together, the heat of their attraction only climbs higher. Can they learn to trust again, before the Key West sun sets on their chance at happiness?
I listened to this one on audio, and I did enjoy the narration. It was a great book to listen to while walking, doing yard work, cleaning around the house, which is perfect for me. It's a contemporary romance set in Key West, and the side characters are primarily the main characters' families, so it's pretty easy to follow while doing light multitasking.
When the story kicks off, Anamaria finds out from her (meddling) mother that her ex Alejandro is back in town after years of estrangement. Not only is he back, he's basically back under duress, after taking a plummet from a waterfall and being forced somewhere safe to recuperate when he would rather be anywhere else.
Now, from the start, I really liked Anamaria. She's strong, but not unrelatable or 'not-like-other-girls.' She's an EMT and also a personal trainer working on her own business. She's smart, she's independent but loves her family and her community, she's driven in her business but also focused on giving back. And her reasons for avoiding Alejandro make complete sense to me. He left years ago without looking back, and she cares too much about being local to her family and community to chase him around the world knowing that he has no intention of returning. Ever.
Alejandro on the other hand? Look, I do like his character arc. And I get the young Latino estranged from his family because what he wanted and what his father wanted from him seemed irreconcilable. It's a trope for a reason, and that reason is relatability. This book actually reminded me of A LOT LIKE ADIOS (I'll do another review for this one) because of the estranged son trope, and if you liked either of these, I highly recommend picking up the other. That being said ... Alejandro made me so mad at the beginning! I had to keep reminding myself that he made his initial decisions regarding leaving and Anamaria when he was still practically a child, but still. His ill will toward her felt really unreasonable (but realistic, I get it) to me. He is, in effect, what I refer to as the 'Pisces men' characters. Not a deal-breaker for me, but I don't have a lot of patience for them.
It's not a super sexy book; it's open door with a scene or two, and honestly, the sexual tension and kissing scenes are where it's at more than the sex itself. The family dynamics are fantastic, and the romance develops beautifully, with some great tension between Anamaria and Alejandro right up until the end. If you're a fan of Alexis Daria, Angelina M Lopez, Alisha Rai, Natalie Caña, Tasha L. Harrison's small-town romance series, or second-chance romance in general, I think you'll really enjoy this one.
As far as ratings go: I would recommend this book, and I will continue to read other books from this author, but this particular one probably won't make it onto a reread list any time soon. It's well-written with a satisfying romance, but I hold grudges too much for this one to be a personal favorite.
Have you read ANCHORED HEARTS yet? Let me know what you thought of it!