When I get a book by this author, I prepare to laugh. And wouldn’t you know it, the giggling commenced before I was off the first page. Her humor is the madcap style with an under layer of wit. This was her first contemporary and I confess that I enjoyed it more than her historicals. Maybe it was the background of West Meets East or the endearing persona of the heroine on her adventures of love and life with her favored Chai Latte in hand or maybe it was a bit of both and more. I began with an amused laugh and ended with a satisfied smile.
The story begins when American girl, Tabitha Timmons loses her job and her home, but gains a fiancé all in one day. The part she is most dubious about, when she shares all this with her psychologist best friend, is the fiancé. And she’s not convinced that Chris loves her or that they even know each other very well.
Tabby learns quickly that she really knew next to nothing when an engagement with wealthy Chris turns into a furious and fast education into his Indian heritage and how to impress the future in-laws particularly his grandfather who holds the family purse-strings. Tabby wants this marriage and secretly has no plans to return home to America where her ex and her sister are happily married with her dad living with them and perfectly content that the embarrassing daughter who was dumped is safely across the pond. So make over by Chris’ sister Maya, lessons in how not to offend and how to impress, and one memorable faux pas after another, she has managed to gain at least grandfather’s grudging approval with the caveat that she come to India where he can make the final decision in person plus she can learn more of their culture and be there for Maya’s wedding.
Tabby is eager and fearful to go on this adventure. She wanted to be accepted and part of a family; well Chris’ quirky family gives her that. All, but one. Dev makes her nervous and she pretends that it is because she thinks he’s a murderer, but really it’s because he evokes feelings in her that Chris never stirs. Tabby refuses to give in to them because she cares for Chris and is with Chris. Meanwhile, Tabby and Maya plot to get Maya out of her arranged marriage to a guy that Maya’s grandfather chose.
Tabby’s journey with Chris and Maya’s family and her own adventures begin to reshape her, giving her glimpses of what she really wants. But does she have the courage to step out of her comfort zone and grasp it. Oh, and survive Delhi Belly, scary local wild life, militant villagers, kidnapping, scheming neighbors, and a devilishly handsome murderer.
This was a light, fun read though it touches on some serious and thoughtful elements, too. It reads like romantic comedy crossed with women’s fiction set in an interracial posh Indian backdrop. Tabby narrates the story though there is a lot of dialogue and description so other characters were easy to know and understand.
The pace was uneven, but the few times it slowed way down, it picked up. The humor and plays of words is probably an acquired taste though I think readers just need to give it time so they can adjust to it. I had no trouble because of being familiar with the author’s earlier work.
The characters are engaging and even the ones designated as antagonists, have redeeming qualities. I enjoyed that the characters are flawed and can grow. Tabby seemed to drift along and was content with the easy way, but she slowly finds her way and starts to value herself as a member of a family community and someone people could love. Chris is weak and oblivious, but not all bad. Maya was self-absorbed a lot along with sycophantic to gain money, but she does grow a backbone. Dev was an enigmatic character and I understood why, but I would have enjoyed getting to know him better.
The story is more character development than romance. So be warned in case your expectations are different, that this one is slower developing and mostly sweet when it comes to the romance. I was confused about the direction of the romance for the longest time, but then it made sense and I enjoyed what I got. The story gave a strong nod to Bollywood and I enjoyed that. All the traditions, rituals, culture, society, and family dynamics were in-step with what I have seen in Bollywood movies.
All in all, this was a delight and a fun romp. Those who enjoy humor spread on thick, quirky characters and plotting, colorful and diverse settings and a blend of romantic comedy and women’s fiction should give this one a try.
My thanks to the author for the book in exchange for an honest review.