CW: death of sibling, discussion of secondary character’s relationship that included Intimate Partner Violence, ailing parent
This is Desai’s debut, although she was previously published as Sarah Castille. She had some super sexy boxing series that I know I read at least one of those. I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I wasn’t sure if it would skew more women’s fiction than romance. For me it was a good blend of both.
Layla, our female protagonist, is a little down on her luck. She returns to her hometown after a break-up with her boyfriend. Her parents own a restaurant and her father offers Layle office space where she can work as a recruiter. Her father previously agreed to rent out the space to someone else but he says he will cancel that. Then her father has a heart attack. And fails to cancel the rental agreement.
Sam, our male protagonist, is the person that Layla’s father agreed to rent out the space to. He shows up and fighting begins on who gets to claim the space. Sam at times is a huge jerk and I was not sold on liking him.
After Layla’s breakup, her father put her on websites to work on finding her a marriage partner. She is Indian American and her parents are traditional and her father believes he can find a husband for her. This sets up hilarity as Sam acts as a chaperone as Layla meets several of these potential suitors. This was the best part of the book. As Layla goes on these “dates”, she and Sam get to know each other better. It was because of these dates and banter that I bought into their love story and ultimately enjoyed the book.
I really liked Layla. I thought she was a messy female character that sometimes said some mean things, sometimes drank more than she intended to. She was not a virgin and wasn’t shy about telling Sam. She felt no shame about this. She felt like a real person.
There were a few things I didn’t like.
There were times the author/editor decided to explain words/food items to the reader and used some non-English words in italics.
“Hi, bhaiya.” Nisha smiled, using the affectionate form of address for an older brother.
Roti, a thin round bread similar to a tortilla, was an unforgiving beast.
As a reader, this feels like spoon feeding me information. I know how to look information up.
As I said earlier, Sam was a jerk. One of his coworkers is attracted to him and he talks about her like this. –
“Sam bristled at her sarcasm. He was used to women melting at his feet. Karen had just sexted him with pictures of herself in the boardroom in provocative poses, a plastic medical kit in her hand. How did he tame this wildcat?”
Overall, I enjoyed this story and did buy into their love story but had some complicated feelings about Sam and some of the things he said.