The Keys to Love series is a contemporary romance series following "the Navarro familia" and their adventures in Key West Florida. The first book, Island Affair, follows Luis Navarro, firefighter and paramedic who runs into social media influencer and tourist Sara Vance at the airport and agrees to be her fake boyfriend in order to appease her parents and siblings on a family vacation. The second installment, Anchored Hearts, follows Luis' sister, Anamaría, who joined her siblings at the fire station as a fighter and paramedic, but has been slowly building up a side business as a personal trainer and definitely not thinking about her high school sweetheart, Alejandro Miranda, who left her alone in order to chase his dreams of becoming a sought-after photographer. Alejandro received clear instructions from his father to never return to Key West, and he's done everything to avoid traveling back to his hometown. But when he sustains an injury that requires months of recuperation after surgery, the two are finally in the same time zone, and may have to face their meddling families, and their mutual attraction that hasn't seemed to dim after a decade.
What I love about the books I've read from Priscilla Oliveras is her focus on family. We caught a glimpse of Anamaría's family in Island Affair, with her three brothers and parents coming together every week for church and family dinner, and the love and support they all share for each other, even though some might be stubborn and need help seeing the error of their ways. The children feel as if the Keys are their home, where family is, and don't have any desire to leave (at least permanently) the area where they grew up. It was an interesting contrast to Alejandro's circumstances - he's felt ostracized from his family (his father in particular) for his dream of escaping the town and going out to travel along new (and "better") horizons. His desire to persue photography brought dishonor on him in his father's eyes, as he believed Alejandro did not care about his family or familial roots if he didn't work in the restaurant his grandfather worked so hard to make a reality. In turn, he deserts his childhood town, comminicating primarily through phone calls, and would not have returned to the Keys during his recovery if his mother had not convinced him to do so - he's even counting down the days until he is cleared to travel to make his escape. Additionally, the mothers trying everything in their power to bring their children together brought so much comic relief, it was certainly fun to watch. I really appreciated how the book highlights people finding their way back to each other. Anamaría and Alejandro were first loves - even in the decade they've been apart, their hearts still belonged to each other. But even as they reconnect, they realize that after high school, they weren't in the same headspace. They wanted different things out of life, and while one wanted to jump start their career immediately the other needed to take care of private matters, and needed more time to sort out what their future path should be. They both acknowledge that the time apart has let them focus on their individual goals and aspirations, which, in turn, allows them to imagine a future where they are achieving those goals together, bringing out the best in the other person. Anamaría will go on to inspire many to put their health and wellness first, and Alejandro will capture all the beautiful moments of every day life on his camera. I truly wish the best for these two, and hope we get to see more of them in future books.
To discuss a bit about the romance, specifically, I will say that it is low / mild in terms of steam. As a reader you are aware when things are escalating to an intimate moment, but anything major is closed door / fade to black, which can bother some but I don't have an issue with. This is also a second chance romance, so the two main leads have a prior history that we are slowly learning about through context, while they are rebuilding their relationship in the present. I think the tension between them was the most striking part, and I enjoy this style of romance so it was a good read, but some mileage may vary depending on what you are looking for in your romance books. It's perfectly fine to enjoy different things, just expect little physical action going into this one.
All in all, I think I'll pick up any other books Priscilla Oliveras chooses to write in the Keys to Love series. These characters have just stolen my heart, and I can't wait to see what they're all up to next. Get your hands on Anchored Hearts if you're in the mood for second chance romance and a setting that will have you craving the sun in any season. *Thank you to BookishFirst and the publisher, Kensington Books, for the early copy, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*