Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Harlequin Desire
Released on August 1, 2020
When an interior designer architect scores the commission for her company that can launch her to where she wants to be, she is determined not to mix business with the pleasure of a certain debonair Indian hotel owner who could use this sort of distraction from the cares of life. A delicious work place romance is layered with the spices of family, tradition, and past pain.
Marriage by Arrangement, the first of the Nights at the Mahal series, opens when Rani Gupta, a junior at her firm and passed over for promotion more than once scores the winning design proposal to refurbish India’s hottest businessman bachelor, Arjun Singh. She made the mistake of letting herself get tangled in a traditional Indian marriage and then a colossal workplace dating disaster. Her career is all she has left and she intends to prove her ability and her professionalism by making a smash hit of Arjun Singh’s new jewel of a hotel. The hotelier is charismatic, but getting to know the man himself is her downfall into a temporary arrangement which starts to feel all too real and the complications pile up fast.
Arjun is as taken with the designer as the designs for his new hotel. Rani gets exactly what he wants. Traditional and high class quality India motif in Vegas. He can respect her need to keep things all business. He himself refuses to do relationships and must eventually go back home to fulfill an arranged marriage agreement, but a few months with Rani couldn’t hurt and would be a great escape from the demands of his family with parents touting tradition and his younger siblings wanting a bit of modern independence. Rani gets all that and the struggle to balance the two. She gets it all too well and he struggles not to fall for this vibrant, intelligent, and talented woman.
At first, Marriage by Arrangement has the tug and pull of a secret romance set in the business world, whether they can keep it short term and cut ties, and whether they can be discreet and not get Rani in trouble with her bosses. There is no stinting on the flavor of India whether it is Rani’s Indian-American background or Arjun’s Indian background. Just as I expected from the blurb.
But, then the author takes things deeper letting the reader get to know the struggles they face because of their backgrounds and their histories. I went from moderately interested to totally vested in this pair, their stories, their families, and their relationship. Arjun kept his engagement to Hema a secret from Rani and I just knew it was a ticking time bomb. Just like the confrontations between Rani’s fierce need for independence and the restrictive traditions of Arjun’s family back home was looming over things.
I love when a book takes me by surprise like this and goes well and beyond expectation. I can’t wait to read more of the series and the author’s books. Those who enjoy spicy romance with well-developed characters, a bit of business, and a lavish cultural backdrop should give this one a go.
My thanks to Harlequin for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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