In Polanco’s (Finding Hope, 2017) romance, a glamorous New Yorker learns how to love again after a devastating breakup.
From the outside, Valentina Puig, a 30-something buyer for a successful company called Infinity Acquisitions, appears to have it all: beauty, health, career success, a gorgeous apartment, and an adoring pet. But her love life leaves something to be desired. The novel opens with an announcement in The New York Times that Dr. David Harrington—Valentina’s ex-boyfriend, who left her three weeks ago—is engaged to Diana Monroe, a wealthy philanthropist with tremendous social cachet. Shocked by this news and enraged by the betrayal, Valentina struggles to maintain a sense of normalcy in her life. Although she’s somewhat successful at hiding her suffering, there’s one colleague that isn’t fooled: Marcus Napier, a handsome, charming widower who also happens to be Valentina’s boss. Marcus has long been in love with her, and it pains him to see her grieve; however, it also excites him to know that she’s now single. In the week following the engagement, Valentina tells Marcus that she’s accepted a temporary acquisitions position in Madrid to take a break from New York City. Marcus—afraid that he might miss his chance—decides to invite her out for a lavish dinner, during which he confesses his feelings. Stunned, Valentina spends the rest of the novel struggling with her budding lust for Marcus, and the plot twists during her time in Madrid only further complicate matters. Throughout this novel, Polanco adeptly renders the atmospherics of glamorous, tumultuous life in the Big Apple and abroad; indeed, to read this story is to get lost in a luxurious lifestyle fairy tale: the players have champagne taste in everything that they wear, eat, and drive, as well as in everyone that they sleep with (the sex scenes are particularly steamy). However, the characters are also rather melodramatic; the swiftness with which they move through various conflicts feels a bit unrealistic, and the haste with which various plot turns resolve themselves sometimes makes for a lackluster reading experience.
A romance novel that indulges the senses but its predictability and tidy resolutions can be wearying.