REVIEW: The Spanish Promise by Karen Swan

In brief: Charlotte is a wealth counsellor who has been brought in to help find the mysterious woman who is about to inherit one of the biggest fortunes in Spain. But history turns out to be more convoluted than expected and Charlotte is racing against the clock to get home for her own wedding day.

The good: A fun read with an interesting lead character in Charlotte.

The not-so-good: I didn’t find the historical sections terribly interesting at first.

Why I chose it: Enjoy Karen Swan’s books – thank you to Pan Macmillan for the copy.

Year: 2019

Pages: 373

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Setting: Spain and London

Rating: 8 out of 10

Holidays are the perfect time to sit back and relax with an author you know and can rely on for a good story. Karen Swan is one of those authors for me. I love how her books tie together an exotic location with historical and current day drama. The Spanish Promise takes the reader from London to Madrid and into the Spanish countryside. It sounds idyllic but of course there are decades old secrets to unravel before everyone can get their happy ending.

Charlotte is the main character of The Spanish Promise. She has an unusual job that I’ve not seen in fiction before. She’s a wealth counsellor and her role is to help those who have come into money adjust to their new found fortune and find meaning in their lives. I don’t think I’ll ever require her services, but for the people Charlotte interacts with, the role is counsellor/listener and life coach. But her latest project is somewhat different. One of the wealthiest men in Spain is dying and plans to leave everything to an unknown woman. Who is she and what is her link to the Mendoza family? Charlotte is racing against the clock to find out why this has happened and befriend the woman to try to change her mind regarding her inheritance – if she even knows about it. Charlotte is due to get married and even though she’s not particularly invested in the wedding, she knows it is something she must do.

Interlaced with Charlotte’s story is that of Nene, only daughter of a rich family in the build-up to the Spanish Civil War. Nene doesn’t see why she needs to be separated from the families of her father’s workers until things take a bloody turn. The silence her brothers force on her lead Nene to her breaking point and leaving her old life behind.

I must admit that I found Charlotte’s story much more entertaining than Nene’s until I figured out some connections later on in the story. Charlotte is a very engaging character who is turn very warm and friendly to the majority of other characters. But when she comes across someone she knows very well or has A History with, things get more heated. It’s from these exchanges that the reader learns that there is more to Charlotte than a person who loves her job. She’s hiding a lot behind that sunny exterior and during this project, it will crack and spill. It seems at one point that Charlotte is living two lives in Madrid – one for her client, and one to get her own affairs of the heart in order. Charlotte needs to dig deep for this one and answer herself truthfully as to what is important to her. Her personal growth during the novel is lovely to read, right until the very end.

As for Nene, I learned some things about the Spanish Civil War and the lead up to it but it just didn’t grab me. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t know much about it in the first place as it tends to get overshadowed by WWII in fiction. I just didn’t feel that connection to Nene or the depth of her passion. She’s feisty and a true individual, not afraid to branch out for what she believes in…but it’s wasn’t until the storylines merged that I began to look forward to her sections.

This story is an easy read, with the words flowing beautifully under your eyes. It is easy to remember where you’re up to, that is if you can put it down for long.

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