Hi everyone! Today, I’m so excited to be reviewing two romance books by Asian authors that I read back to back a few days ago and that I enjoyed.
*Click the book title to go to the goodreads page*
Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.
But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.
As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.
This book was really good! The main character, Reena, feels like a real person and it’s very entertaning and relatable seeing her work to improve different aspects of her life throughout this book. It was really interesting to see this type of story of a woman finding herself and figuring things out told from the perspective of an Indian – East African Canadian Muslim woman. While these aspects were not the main focus of the book, it did a good job of including into the story different elements of being first generation Canadian and growing up with elements of three different cultures.
Beyond the personal journey of the main character, her cultural and religious background plays a huge role in her relationship with her family. The family dynamics in this book were complicated but also really entertaitning, and seeing Reena try to deal with and improve her relationship with different members of her family added an interesting layer to the book.
Lastly, the romance in this book is lovely, it was really sweet to see Reena and Nadim become friends and then seeing that friendship evolve into something more and then see them find comfort with each other. Nadim was really sweet and considerate and he was always there for Reena, which was pretty great. The one thing that maybe didn’t work so well was the ending, because the relationship moves a bit too fast, even if I understand that cultural aspects played a part in that.
Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast. There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.
The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…
When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?
The two main characters of this book were great, Jia is a Pakistani Muslim hijabi beauty influencer and Dev is a Bollywood movie star, and they both were three-dimensional characters with strong voices and personalities. Also, they both had complicated relationships with their families and complex pasts, which added interesting elements to the story. One of the things that made this book different and interesting is that both main characters are more traditional, and , in particular, having a Muslim heroine who follows the ideas and traditions of her religion was really cool.
The main issue with this book is that the chemistry and tension between the characters weren’t there, their attraction to each other was only shown by having the characters think about how attractive the other was but nothing beyond that. Also, even just in a romantic sense, this needed to be more emotional so it was believable that they loved each other. Their relationship was sweet but that was it. Also, I was expecting more from the ending.
Overall, this was an entertaining and easy to read story that had great characters but that had a romance that was a bit lackluster.