Goodreads: Love and Olives
Series: Love and Gelato #3
Olive’s father left when she was eight–left to chase the lost city of Atlantis. Now, after years of no contact, he wants her to visit him on the Greek island of Santorini. Olive has zero interest in reconnecting with the man who let her down, but her mother wants her to do. Now, Olive has to decide if her relationship with her dad is worth saving.
Love and Olives by Jenna Evans Welch brings the island of Santorini alive as the protagonist, Olive, attempts to reconnect with the father who left her as a child. Like the previous installments, this one focuses more on familial love than on romantic love, though Olive does meet a handsome boy named Theo, who might be everything her current boyfriend is not. Fans of the previous books will no doubt enjoy this one, as well, though, at 500 pages, it is unusually long for a contemporary romance, and can sometimes feel repetitive.
The highlight of this series for me has always been the travel aspect and Love and Olives does not disappoint. Olive explores Santorini and the nearby islands extensively as she helps her father film a documentary about searching for Atlantis. Plenty of information about the lost city is provided, and it is interesting, but I have to admit that I preferred exploring the known, visible islands more than I cared about theories as to why Santorini might be the location of Atlantis. Olive gets to stay in a magical bookstore with a hidden bunk, visit several beaches, go on a sunset cruise, and, of course, experience the local cuisine. I felt like I got to go on a mini vacation with Olive!
Olive as a character regrettably borders on the annoying. She is drawn with sensitivity and depth, shown to be still processing the fact that her father left her and her mother when she was eight–and she has only heard from him recently, when he wants her to do something for him. However, the passages where Olive feels sad for herself and wants to push everyone away come a bit too frequently–I do not know that she needs to think about her sad past every five pages, just so we understand that she is scarred. Also, she has a weird obsession with making sure no one knows her dad is an Atlantis hunter because it is too “weird” and “embarrassing.” This does not really make sense in a world where mainstream media regularly highlights mysteries such as Bigfoot, ghosts, and aliens. A historian interested in uncovering the location of Atlantis is not as bizarre as Olive thinks, and I really had no patience with all the lies she told to try to cover it up.
Aside from Olive’s constant need to feel sorry for herself, however, the book is pleasant. It feels like a love letter to Santorini, with the author wanting readers to understand all its beauty and wonder. I had fun exploring with Olive, and I hope that one day we can have more travel stories from Jenna Evans Welch.