Monday, 5 May 2014

Review: Love, in English by Karina Halle

Love, in English by Karina Halle book cover image

Title: Love, in English
Author: Karina Halle
Series: Love, In English, #1
Format: Kindle, owned
My rating: 5 / 5

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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.

-- As seen on Goodreads

“Love causes war and causes death, breaks souls and breaks lives. It runs people into the ground, makes them behave like moronic, immoral beasts, before it dances off, leaving only destruction in its wake— hearts blown wide open for the whole world to see.”

I was scared going into this book. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm so glad to say it turned out so much better than I was expecting. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to write this review without turning into a mushy fan-girl. THIS is how you handle the life-altering topic of cheating in book form. You don’t portray it as a pink puffy cloud walk with the characters skipping into the sunset the first time they see each other. Make. It. Real. And Love, in English does this perfectly.

A few words of caution: If you are not comfortable with or don’t want to read about cheating, don’t read this book. Basically, throw all of your expectations, prejudices and judgements out the window before you start, it’s so worth it!

I don’t think anybody likes or condones cheating. Hell, I don’t! But that doesn’t mean we can ignore the topic, sweep it under the carpet and hope it goes away. That defeats the purpose entirely, as cheating unfortunately exists in our everyday lives.

This is Karina Halle in a completely different light. Love, in English is her first venture into Contemporary Romance, and I personally think it's a huge success. It’s authentic, it’s real, it’s ugly, it’s beautiful, it’s painful, intense, passionate, heart-felt, heart-warming and heart-breaking, soul destroying and oh… so… perfect! I’m not going to write a summary of the story, as I think the synopsis does this excellently, and I do think you need to avoid a lot of pre-conceived ideas going into this one.

“You can’t fall in love in a week.”

“You can fall in love in a second,” she said with a snap of her fingers. “The heart has no regard for time.”

– Vera and Claudia

I love reading about unique, interesting and authentic characters, and Vera and Mateo both fit the bill perfectly. Vera is such a loveable character, and I bonded with her very quickly. She never wanted or intended to be “the other woman”. She fought her feelings for Mateo at every turn, and tried to do what she thought was best, even if it was detrimental to her own heart and feelings.

She is quite introverted and likes her own space, and as a result ends up keeping people at a distance. She is on the outside looking in: the first thing people see and judge her on is her tattoos and her interests. So it’s safer to push people away. The one person who sees her for who she is, and could love her unconditionally, and manages to break through to her heart – Mateo – is the one person she must walk away from.

Mateo is a retired pro-football player who runs a successful chain of restaurants. He and his business partners are hoping to expand their restaurants internationally, so he is chosen to join the English language programme in Las Palabras to improve his conversational English by being surrounded by native English speakers for a month. Now, it is no secret I love football (soccer) and yeah, Spain is one of the big noises in the football world. That side of the book I really liked. I have a few little issues with some of his choices, but I liked him overall.

Nothing was overlooked or sugar-coated, and I loved how the aftermath was shown. It’s not pretty and the consequences have impacts on everyone. It… felt… real. And that marks an awesome fiction book in my mind, when that line between fiction and reality almost crosses.

My emotions were manipulated right from the first chapter. I cried (sobbed, actually), I laughed, I felt the pain, the anger, the fear, the love, everything! I use my emotions as a barometer on how much I love a book, and I honestly can say, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a range of emotions all in one book before. I look for that connection with the characters, and I found it. How Karina can manage to convey that amount of feelings through words is amazing! I highly recommend this book, and I really hope people are not put off or negatively influenced by the subject matter.

"Shame on us
Doomed from the start
May God have mercy
On our dirty little hearts"

-- Zero Sum, NIN.

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