A fiercely independent engineer walks out on the man her parents have set her up with -- only to start working side-by-side with him at her job in this laugh-out-loud debut with "delicious banter, deep wounds, heartwarming friendships, and a path to love that often feels impossibly hard, and [a payoff] satisfying enough to give you a book hangover the size of Texas" (Sonali Dev, USA Today bestselling author of Recipe for Persuasion).
Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents' latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she's out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later -- the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What's not surprising: he's not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.
Jay Shah looks good on paper...and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He's also infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late-night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?
Patel's fast-paced romp of a debut offers a peek into the vibrant Indian-American community of Houston, Tex., introducing a self-assured heroine striving for independence from the traditional expectations of her family. Biochemical engineer Liya Thakkar is perfectly happy as a single woman. She has a devoted group of best friends, a new promotion at work, and no problem finding casual flings when she wants them. When her family tricks her into attending a matchmaking dinner, she embarrasses herself and her parents by fleeing only to later discover her would-be suitor, Jay Shah, is the lawyer assigned to save her company from closing, and they'll have to see much more of each other. Despite their awkward first meeting and ongoing bickering at work, the chemistry between Liya and Jay is clear to everyone around them. But the headstrong pair will both have to learn to be vulnerable before they can trust each other. Readers will root for Liya as she struggles against community gossip and the weight of disappointing the people who should love her unconditionally. The enemies-to-lovers arc is classic, but the cultural specificity Patel brings makes this rom-com feel fun and fresh.
3.5 Stars: A lot of potential
(TW: sexual assault)
This book subtly and not-so-subtly addresses many critical issues surrounding race, culture, and sexism. It’s a classic trope but unique in those ways, which is why I really wanted to love it.
The storyline itself was good. You learn quickly who to root for and who to loathe. But I almost came close to putting the book down halfway because of Liya’s naïveté and ignorance. It was painful and annoying, but push past that and sure, it’s predictable, but it’s well-rounded. It really takes you through the mindset and experience of sexual assault survivors who are shunned from society and/or deemed liars.
Near the end, I did find it a bit difficult to keep up with who the narrator of each chapter was because I was so engulfed in the story and wanted to see how it unraveled. I’ve never had the issue before with similarly formatted books; it wasn’t difficult to get context clues and course-correct, but thought I’d note.
This book had me angry and sad and simultaneously hopeful by the end. It didn’t grab my attention right off the bat, but the second half got me. And though you will root for Liya (and her relationship with Jay), Jay’s mother is my favorite.
This is a beautiful love story!
It’s a love hate thing and I definitely cried at the end