Vivian Bingley has big plans for her semester abroad in Spain…
Along with her BFF, Maddie, Vivian hopes to indulge her inner Art History nerd by visiting the best museums in the world. She also wants to tackle more practical concerns — like a less than stellar GPA in her major, Economics — with the help of a Spanish tutor.
But falling for her studly Spanish tutor definitely isn’t one of them.
Madrileño Rafa Montoya is the stuff study abroad dreams are made of: super studly and super smart. He also happens to be super into Vivian. With his wicked dancing skills and his passion for the arts, he tempts her to throw caution to the wind and live out her wildest dreams.
Only problem? Maddie wants Rafa, too, and Vivian promised herself she’d never settle for second best again…not after a hookup-gone-awry last semester left her heartbroken. Is it best for Vivian to protect her heart at all costs? Or is letting Rafa in worth the risk?
First of all I would like to say that some of the feelings at the beginning of the book felt familiar to me. I never did the Erasmus program during my undergrad years, but during my Masters I relocated to Barcelona to do the practical component of it, and stayed for roughly 6 months. I was never as lost as Vivian feels though, because even though I didn’t dominate the Spanish language, I always understood it – Portuguese people mostly understand spanish quite well. But still, it’s a daunting feeling, to not feel at home… I know, because I felt it again when I moved again to Barcelona a little over 3 years ago.
Also, I freaking love this cover!!!
Now, onto the book itself. I really liked the writing. It was fun and easy and Vivian was mostly a fun narrator. Obviously, because I do understand spanish SUPER well, I sometimes found it too much to have the translation after every spanish phrase uttered, but I do understand its presence. I did have a couple of moments where I totally went “OK, I’m pretty sure that’s not right”, like “Venga con dios” being translated as “Go with God”… nope, it’s “Vaya“, because “Venga” means “come” and not “go”. Or “Quiero ser contigo”… again nope… the right ways would be “quiero estar contigo”, I know that in english the verb TO BE is used for a lot of things, but for us the verb SER and ESTAR mean different things, though they both translate to TO BE.
The thing that, well, didn’t bothered me, but I just couldn’t quite see it, it was the descriptions of the spanish people and certain habits. Well, maybe I’m just living in the wrong part of Spain, but the way that the spanish people are described? Not exactly what I see everyday. Now, I can totally blame the city here, I’ve only been to Madrid once and back then I wasn’t actually looking (really looking), but here in Barcelona? Nope. I don’t see it.
Other thing that kind of bothered me was the coffee. Wow Cristina, nitpicking much? Well, I am! Because coffee is very important for my survival and the coffee here sucks. With that said, and especially in the center of Madrid, it is quite easy to find coffee chains like Starbucks that not only serve all kinds of coffee, but they all have to-go cups. I know, because in my first day in the city I located a bunch of them. Also, not that I get out much, but I usually see people drinking way more bear than red wine…
Ok, I’m done! Now onto the story :D. I liked the fact that it dealt with Vivian finding her true passion and what she wants to do with her life. I also understand her unwillingness to keep having flings and to find The One, though I thought that at 20, and with very little experience under her belt, it was a bit TOO important for her, if that makes any sense.
I liked how she slowly decided to make the choices that were best for her, and stop focusing on what she should be doing. Still, her road there was a bit unnerving at times. I was frustrated with this girl for most of the book!
Rafa, on the other hand, was a delight to read. I loved his broken english. And how friendly he was to everyone. And how patient he was with Vivian… though, let’s be honest, that had to be hard.
I could have done with the weird sort of love triangle. It was weird! It’s worth noting that Rafa is NEVER interested in Maddie though. I thought that both Viv and Mads were in the wrong, but honestly? Mostly Maddie! She got under my skin. True that Vivian should have been honest about her feelings for Rafa, but Maddie KNEW (and she admits that she knew) that her best friend had feelings for this guy, and still she made a move on him. Not right!
I was super happy about the last 20% of the book. I liked the resolution of the story a lot. That, Raffa, and Vivian’s sense of humour while narrating it, totally did the book for me. I’m excited about the next story of the series, which will be about Maddie, even though I had a lot of problems with her character during this book.