Liya Thakkar is a successful biochemical engineer, takeout enthusiast, and happily single woman. The moment she realizes her parents’ latest dinner party is a setup with the man they want her to marry, she’s out the back door in a flash. Imagine her surprise when the same guy shows up at her office a week later — the new lawyer hired to save her struggling company. What’s not surprising: he’s not too thrilled to see her either after that humiliating fiasco.
Jay Shah looks good on paper…and off. Especially if you like that whole gorgeous, charming lawyer-in-a-good-suit thing. He’s also arrogant and infuriating. As their witty office banter turns into late night chats, Liya starts to think he might be the one man who truly accepts her. But falling for each other means exposing their painful pasts. Will Liya keep running, or will she finally give love a real chance?
I expected this to be a romcom based on the cover and title but on balance the heroine’s history of sexual abuse and abusive parents and hero’s trauma and self-loathing dragged it into more serious territory. It was smooth reading but there was quite a lot that I found distressing, from a near date rape with another guy to emotional blackmail to worker exploitation to slut shaming to the hero saying some truly terrible things to the heroine’s face to leading other romantic interests on after the halfway point. I disliked how the hero confronted the wannabe rapist and forced her to interact with him again. They bicker a lot at the beginning and everyone else thinks it’s cute but mostly they’re just being assholes to each other, not bantering.
I don’t feel either of their emotional and self-worth issues were sufficiently resolved. Liya is so reactive and distrusting from her trauma, I don’t buy that she could let go of it to be in a committed relationship yet. I hated how she reacted to the hero’s shock and hurt at a choice she made and hid from him, and basically turned it into an ultimatum that wasn’t up for discussion and he deserved no say in their life together, that she feels one of them must sacrifice to be together and swears it won’t be her.
I’m also not sold the hero did enough processing of his trauma and guilt to let go of it.
I don’t doubt that Liya’s father’s attitude about women serving their husbands is based on real perspectives but it felt stereotyped because it’s so removed from anyone I know. Her relationship with her mother is also harmful because it’s emotionally manipulative and transfers responsibility from the abusive husband to the daughter because the mother won’t stand up to her husband, so she perpetuates the harm to her daughter instead.
This was pretty much closed door, which I thought worked.
One other thing I wish had been addressed was the heroine’s obsession with luxury brands. Her consumerism is well explained, in that she is proving to herself she can take care of herself and doesn’t need a man, but I would have liked to see her move past that attitude and be a bit less materialistic.
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