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You Had Me at Hola: In Search of Love and Truth in South America by Leigh Robshaw

This very personal story tells the tale of Leigh Robshaw when, as a twenty-something, she sets out from Australia in the 1990s to South America in search of adventure, but above-all, love. On her third day in Buenos Aires, she meets Gabriel, a beautiful and exotic young artist who makes jewellery to sell to tourists on the beaches. Even though they have no shared language, they communicate using the universal language of love.

What follows is a madcap time, where committed to her journey around South America, but longing to remain with the man she believes is her soul-mate, Leigh reluctantly heads off, convinced she’s left her heart in Buenos Aires. 

The adventures she has, the dangers and illness that befall her as she travels will leave your heart in your mouth! All the time, she longs for Gabriel. When they’re finally reunited, she discovers the love she’s sometimes questioned is returned. Instead of heading to England with her friend as per long-laid plans, Leigh stays in South America and, with Gabriel, makes a life for herself, traveling all over, selling jewellery, getting into incredible scrapes, behaving sometimes recklessly and meeting a range of fascinating, kind, but also wicked and exploitative people. 

In the end, however, Leigh is forced to question what’s she’s doing and confront the reality of the huge cultural differences between her and Gabriel – cultural and personal. But they’d already overcome so much, surely, their love, which is undoubted, would conquer all?

This is a book that will sweep you along in its narrative. Extremely personal, raw and honest, Leigh doesn’t hesitate to question her decisions, expose her choices for what they sometimes were, and plumb the depths of her own psyche as she takes the reader on this passionate, wild adventure – of love, of culture and of people.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, and am looking forward to the sequel. What a ride! What a life.

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