So, I’m a little behind on this one, but its not for lack of love. I stumbled on Nisha Sharma’s book and it just seemed too good to be true. As a Punjabi woman who loves romance, I so very rarely get to see my culture represented. So of course, I had to read and review it.
Okay, on to trigger warnings and content warnings: The one major difficulty I had with this book was some of the pushing around consent. There are times the main male character (Hem) does not listen to a no that is stated or pushes past it until a yes is said. There is also a moment where it seems like they had talked about not using condoms at some point but it was perhaps not discussed prior to the sexual encounter. Its unclear and it was confusing and a bit rough. I found myself skipping past sex scenes because the consent was so murky at times and I wanted to enjoy the book.
While it is resolved and the female character (Mina) eventually affirms consent each time and enjoys herself, this was difficult for me and I could imagine it being difficult for other readers. I can understand that it felt very in line with the character to push so hard, but it made it harder for me to enjoy the book. So, reader be warned on that one.
The Punjabi words interspersed everywhere, the cultural moments, the food, the aunties and uncles lovingly sprinkled everywhere, the references, even the dialogue. I felt so at home in moments in this book and so intensely hungry. Do not read at night in a place without Indian delivery. I am regretting that right this second.
The speed of the romance was a bit fast for me, but for those who love a romance movie, it will likely be just right. I’m more of a slow burn person myself and I know my bias. Its a super quick read as well, perfect for gobbling up in the tub.
The espionage, the backstabbing, the lawyer conversations and all the twists and turns in this book made for a great thriller. It feels very legal TV show, which I love. I legitimately did not figure out who the mole in their company was until the very end and it surprised me. Also, the ending scene where justice happens is pretty satisfying, to anyone who’s had a shitty uncle who patronizes them. Very satisfying in fact. There’s even parental make up scenes with their children, which always hits me hard.
Also, Rajneet, Mina’s best friend? Fire and loveliness. I want her story right now. I loved the intro at the end and it definitely sparked my interest.
My biggest problem is Mina is so cool and Hem both seems to respect her and also not listen to her no on lots of things. When she asks to slow down, when she says not now, when she talks about the very serious professional implications of their relationship (which I cannot believe he does not listen to). I get he has his damage and that’s real, but it made me want to smack the back of his head like a Punjabi auntie and ask how he’d feel if someone pushed his sister/cousin/female relative like that. Because apparently, someone can only be a person if they’re related to a dude, but whatever. And I’m not even old enough to be an auntie yet. But that boy is fixing for getting his ears pulled the way he is acting.
Still, there’s chai, there’s happy endings, there’s happy mothers and complex mothers and families coming together. Its a little like Kabhi Kushi Khabhi Gaum in a lot of ways (if you haven’t seen it, its on Netflix, thank me later) but slightly less dramatic and lots more sex.
Due to the content and consent difficulties for me, I have to give it 3.5 stars, but I am super looking forward to this author’s next book. I see so much beauty coming through the mustard fields here!
*I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review of this book.
Edit: On further consideration, I am upgrading the content warning to a full on Trigger Warning. Any sexual assault survivors may be wise in avoiding or finding a more comprehensive review before diving into this text.