CW: talk of past sexual assault, parental and marital abuse, gaslighting, death of a parent
This is one debut I’ve been highly anticipating and I was ecstatic when I got approved for the ARC. I was gonna read it much closer to the release date but I changed my mind and I’m glad I read it because the beautiful love story was definitely something I needed.
The story actually takes a while to kick off and I felt bored initially, but I was determined to see it through and when everything fell into place, I found it to be a very well written romance and also strong female friendships. The dialogue can be a bit on the cheesier side sometimes but as a Bollywood movie lover, I’m accustomed to a lot of cheese and I didn’t mind it at all. I liked how the author showed both the good and bad sides of the Indian community and while some of the characters really pissed me off, it was mostly because such people do exist in real life and I hate seeing them in fiction too. The only small gripe I have is that except a handful of families, the author showed that most of the community is very conservative and patriarchal, and I think that was a bit too harsh and we are getting progressive. I both liked and hated the ending – the main characters’ arc was perfectly concluded and this is probably the first time I was happy that there wasn’t an epilogue because it perfectly suited the character’s personalities; on the other hand, we didn’t get to see any consequences for some of the other unsavory characters and I would have liked some resolution in that matter.
The characters of Liya and Jay were definitely the best parts of the book. Liya is strong, independent, opinionated but there’s a vulnerable side to her that only those closest to her get to witness. She may feel a little unlikable initially but as we get to know her, I really loved her and realized the unlikability only stems from society’s perspective and nothing else. Jay on the other hand is a typical nice Indian boy who wants to keep his family happy, but there are depths to him that we discover as the story goes on. I loved that the author spent time developing their friendship and there were so many sweet moments which only endeared me more to them. And I loved that there was deep understanding between them and immense trust and support for each other.
The other best part of the book was Jay’s lovely family who were tight knit and traditional in some ways but also didn’t bow down to society’s gossip. I particularly loved Jay’s mother who was a rock and never let anyone treat her or her family with disrespect. And Liya’s three best friends were a riot and I loved every single scene where they all were just having fun. I like that the author showed how important female friendships are and sometimes even more than family.
To conclude, this book had some difficult themes which I thought were handled well but ultimately it’s strength is the adorable relationship between the main characters and some very lovely friendships. I like seeing the man support the woman’s aspirations for a change and would love to see more such books in the future. And I would definitely read whatever the author writes next.
PS: Thank you to Forever publishing and Netgalley for providing me with the advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.