ARC Review: Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev

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Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen?
Rico Silva, that’s what.
Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster.
FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn’t too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he’s definitely over her.
But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce…and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico. Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak—or a recipe for persuasion…?

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CW: talk of past alcoholism, suicide and rape; ptsd and panic attacks

I have a thing for desi Jane Austen retellings, so as soon as I saw the announcement for this book, I knew I was going to read it. Second chance romance on the other hand is not my favorite trope, but because I knew how Persuasion turns, I thought I would love this one too. It didn’t end up working that way though.

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The bare bones of the story is quite close to the original, but I was actually excited for the reality cooking show plotline which turned out to be just ok. The author’s writing is pretty descriptive in places which also didn’t really work for me. I liked the characters of Ashna and Rico individually and there was chemistry between them when they meet again, but we only are ever told and I never got to see why they were so deeply in love with each other even after more than a decade. Ashna’s mother Shobi is the other POV we get and my feelings for her kept oscillating between like and hate. I really wanted to like and root for the characters, but their pasts are so full of tragedy that it just depressed me. To be honest, I only kept waiting for them to get their act together and finally be happy because I couldn’t bear how much they were wallowing in their misery.

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On the whole, maybe I read this book at the wrong time or I just had wrong expectations, because despite being objectively well written, I didn’t enjoy it much. If you are in the mood for a contemporary romcom which will make you swoon or smile, this is definitely not it. It’s more tragic and sad for the most part, and I just wasn’t ready for it. But maybe it’ll work for for you if you go in with the right expectations.

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PS: Thank you to William Morrow and Netgalley for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.

9 thoughts on “ARC Review: Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev

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        1. I should have known because it was a Persuasion retelling that there would be angst.. but it was a lot of misery to handle. Atleast in contemporaries, I kind of want to see happy ones these days.

          Liked by 1 person

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