A young business manager discovers love, life, and family legacy as she unveils the secrets of her adoption in this sophomore romance.
Five months after her legal guardian dies in a freak accident, Leila Isidro, business manager at New York’s prestigious Golden Leaves Hotel, discovers a diary belonging to her birth mother which promises to shed light on her adoption. The diary tells the story of author Myrna Clarisse Elmer’s blossoming, yet ultimately tragic, romance with a young businessman named Anders Isidro and provides a dramatic counterpoint to Leila’s own fledgling relationship with her boss, the mysterious Denis Fraga. Leila recently suffered the indignity of discovering her fiance’s infidelity moments before marriage and has since soured on romance—“love was just another word in the dictionary, and I was determined to keep it that way”—and when history threatens to repeat itself, she escapes to Florida. But Denis refuses to give her up, even when Leila finally returns to her Spanish birthplace to meet her birth mother. In the idyllic surroundings of Vigo Bay, she faces the ultimate dilemma: Rescue the family business from bankruptcy, or follow her heart and return with Denis to New York? Veteran romance readers may be able to guess her decision with ease, but they may yet be surprised by the convoluted ending. Elsewhere, the story is plagued with Oprea’s (Forever Rose, 2016) taste for the kind of melodramatic plot devices (twin brothers, a timely inheritance, coincidences galore) that would make Dickens blush as well as a romantic male lead who presents himself as a gaslighting sexual-harassment lawsuit in the making. Leila herself trades in the usual romantic clichés—barely a page goes by without some reference to heart palpitations—and yet her inner life remains curiously barren. Similarly, no amount of florid prose can explain or excuse her birth parent’s rampant solipsism and meaningless insistence that Leila “follow [her] heart.”
Clichéd, overcomplicated plotting and muddled characterization thwart what could have otherwise been an effective potboiler romance.