All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

on July 3, 2020

The Spanish Promise
Karen Swan
Pan Macmillan UK
2019, 384p
Read via my local library/Borrow Box

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Charlotte, a wealth counsellor who knows from personal experience the complications that a sudden inheritance can bring, helps her clients navigate the emotional side effects of sudden wealth syndrome. When she is asked by Mateo Mendoza, heir to a huge Spanish estate, to fly to Madrid to help resolve an issue in his father’s will, she’s confident it will be straightforward. The timing isn’t great as Charlotte’s due to get married the following week, but once her client signs on the dotted line, Charlotte can return to her life in London and her wedding, and live happily ever after. Marrying Stephen might not fill her with excitement, but she doesn’t want to live in the fast lane anymore – safe and predictable is good.

But Carlos Mendoza’s final bequest opens up a generation of secrets, and Charlotte finds herself compelled to unravel the mystery. As Charlotte digs deeper, she uncovers the story of a family divided by Spain’s Civil War, and of a love affair across the battle lines that ended in tragedy.

And while she is consumed in the drama of the Mendozas, Charlotte’s own tragic past catches up with her, threatening to overturn everything in her life she’s worked so hard to build.

I continued reading my way through Karen Swan’s backlist and had chosen another summer inspired setting, with a lot of this taking place in Madrid and Andalusia. However, this was unfortunately, my least favourite so far and I actually found myself really struggling to stay connected to either of the stories in this one.

In the present day, Charlotte works as a ‘wealth counsellor’, helping people manage the emotional stresses that wealth, especially sudden or unexpected wealth can bring. She often works with a bank helping their clients and is called in when that bank gets word that one of their biggest clients, an ailing man in his 90s in Spain, plans to give away almost all of his fortune, totalling some 750m pounds. This would devastate the bank and his family, especially his son, are none the wiser for why he would be giving his entire fortune away. Whilst the lawyers will try to combat in one way, Charlotte is being brought in to speak directly with the intended recipient, to make her realise the enormity of what could be coming her way and attempt to manage her down.

Charlotte grew up wealthy and seems to have experienced some of the issues that come from never being refused anything, never having anything be a struggle. However the way in which this is imparted is at times, convoluted and vague. I didn’t really enjoy her as a character and for the first time, I didn’t enjoy the romance either. I actually thought Charlotte and the person that was eventual endgame were incredibly toxic to one another and had inflicted numerous amounts of pain and suffering on each other (particularly by Charlotte towards the person) and he’s incredibly resentful of it and seems to want to hurt her in the present day when they are thrown back into each other’s company. I honestly couldn’t see them functioning as a healthy couple and didn’t enjoy any of their interactions together. In the flashbacks, Charlotte is shallow and teasing, in the present day he is snarly and bitter. Charlotte is also engaged to be married as well (actually she’s supposed to be getting married in like a week) but her utter disinterest and disengagement from her wedding was really strange, yet she couldn’t see that her behaviour was a bit unusual. She had no excitement, no real interest in anything to do with the wedding, she was clearly going through the motions and was making a conscious decision to marry this person to potentially avoid the pitfalls that had befallen someone she knew but there’s not enough about her background to really flesh this out in the proper manner. Also some really crucial stuff happens off the page and that’s never a favourite of mine.

The historical section also dragged in places for me. It started off quite interesting – Spain in the 1930s was a very tumultuous time. The country was heading towards a civil war that eventually took place from 1936-39. The first few scenes introducing the Mendoza family from almost 100 years ago were enjoyable but as I got deeper into the book, I got less interested and pretty soon I was just skimming a lot of those sections and getting back to the modern day plot, even though I wasn’t particularly enamoured with that either. I just found that I wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery of why 98 year old Carlos Mendoza was giving away his hundreds of millions of pounds and how it was going to be resolved. I enjoyed the Spanish setting and thought that was rendered well, in both timelines though.

I think it stands to reason that when you read a lot of books by the one author, you will find at least one that isn’t your personal cup of tea. And that’s definitely happened with this book. I normally appreciate the jobs and characters and romances that are a little unusual but in this case, it just seemed like nothing really worked for me. Charlotte was bland in the present, vacuous socialite in the past, her attitude towards her marriage was bizarre and her past was definitely not explored enough for me, particularly the stuff with her father. The romance felt like it had more problems than it would solve, which is the first time I’ve felt this way. And the historical stuff didn’t keep me interested.


Book #119 of 2020

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