Cover Image: Incense and Sensibility

Incense and Sensibility

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Member Reviews

Incense and Sensibility is the third book in The Rajes series. 

CW: discussion of past sexual assault, rape, racism, hate crimes

I have been anxiously awaiting for Sonali Dev to release Yash's story. He was someone who played a big role in the first book of this series, Pride, Prejudice And Other Flavors, I love the Rajes family and their dynamic.

My heart ached for Yash as he struggled with intimacy and moving past being assaulted. I related so much to the way he closed himself off and was weary about who to trust. I loved India and how she cared for her family, I wish I had gotten to know a little more about her. But I loved how she was always willing to help others and help them heal. 

Incense and Sensibility is a complex second-chance romance. I loved how this romance was mature and vulnerable. 

I recommend checking this out if you're looking for a second chance romance!
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I've come to love Sonal Dev's interpretation of Jane Austen novels, and Incense and Sensibility is no exception. Yash Raje is in the campaign for his life for governor of California. India Dashwood, a yoga studio owner, fell in love with him a decade ago, only for him to ghost her. This one is probably her most subtle of adaptation- at first I thought it was just the names, but then figured it out fairly quickly. I don't think you  need to read Sense and Sensibility to enjoy this one. I would recommend reading the first two Raje novels- it's not necessary, but the main characters from both of those novels appear here. I can't wait for the fourth book to come out!
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Thank you Net Galley and William Morrow for an eARC of this book.

Incense and Sensibility is my first book by Sonali Dev.  Although this is part of a trilogy, it can definitely be enjoyed as a stand alone book.
I went into this book without any expectations.  I knew that it was a romance, and that it was loosely based on Sense and Sensibility;  but not having read the Austen book, I did not know what to expect.  

The story revolves around India Dashwood, an accomplished yogi and owner of a wellness studio and Yash Raje, who is running for governor of the state of California. India and Yash’s families have known each other for years. 10 years ago, India and Yash had a connection but they never got to the next step of what could have been.  

The story starts out with a tragedy that brings the two main characters together after leading separate lives for the past 10 years.  Their romance follows a “friends turned lovers” trope, but in a very good way.  

Dev is very skilled at character development and making all the characters shine.  Though this is a romance book at its core, the story is also about personal and inter-family relationships and what it truly means to love someone.   I also appreciated the cultural representation and the characters’ diverse backgrounds.  Yash Raje running for governor, in particular, was a great way to touch on many social themes explored in the course of the story.   

I thought this was a gem of a book in terms of characters.  Both characters were earnest and adorable; readers will genuinely root for them.

However, I did have issues with the pacing of the story and its overall length.   The story was entertaining, but there was a lot of meandering to get to the ultimate payoff.  While everything does get neatly tied up at the end, I thought it took a bit too long to get there. 

I’d recommend this book to romance fans, and fans of authors Alisha Rai and Sarah Smith.
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Solid Romance. Tainted By Politics and Racism. First off, let me be absolutely crystal clear on one point: This was a truly solid romance featuring a man and woman who both know who they are - and the man finally realizing what he actually wants. Were that the be-all, end-all of this book, this is an absolute 5*, much like its predecessor. And because its predecessor *was* 5*, I requested this book the instant I saw it. I couldn't *wait* to dive back into this world.

Unfortunately, that *wasn't* the be-all, end-all of this book. Instead, the author's own personal politics pore through the page here and indeed are quite preachy virtually every time she has most any character speak to political things. And considering the male lead here is running for Governor... this is quite often. But if it was just the preachy politics, this would have been a 4* review. It was heavy and pervasive and detracting from the actual story, and that merits the star deduction. (California politics. If Gavin Newsome and Nancy Pelosi are some of your favorite politicians, you're gonna love this book. If not... you're not. ;) )

But even the pervasive preachy politics wasn't enough to deduct *two* stars and get us down to a three star review from my default of 5 - which again, without the pervasive preachy politics and this next issue, this book would have absolutely gotten.

Unfortunately, that issue is blatant racism. Now, do I think that the author is an active racist? No, I don't. I've interacted with her from time to time online, and I know she is as kind and generous as most any other author I've met in similar circles. But I *do* think that, in an extreme bit of irony, her own unconscious biases were so blatant that had nearly this exact same text been written with an all white, rather than an all-POC cast, and with the very things said of POCs that are said of white people in this text, the "woke" crowd would absolutely eviscerate this book as blatantly racist and would have called for the author to be fully "cancelled". Every single time a white person or anyone that isn't 110% in lockstep with the leftist agenda is mentioned, they are mentioned with some form of derision, casting them as some form of stupid or evil. Again, I do not think that this is an active thing with the author at all. As best I can tell, she is simply putting her own real world politics and thoughts into the text of this book without considering that perhaps others aren't as evil or unintelligent as she seems to think they are because they disagree with those politics or have lighter shades of melanin in their skin.

And again, this is truly, truly a shame. Because if you write this same book in largely the same way, but edit out the racism and the pervasive preachy politics, this is *easily* a 5* romance tale. And, perhaps, if you agree with the racism in question and/ or the politics at hand, you may still feel it is 5*.

My reviews speak for themselves. I have a strong record of striving very hard to be as balanced and objective as possible within them, and therefore I hope the author and others take what I have written here as being from someone who genuinely wanted the book to be as strong as possible. Everyone in publishing knows that others are not always so balanced, and at minimum I hope I can at least prevent a few ... shall we say, "more vitriolic"... reviews due to pointing out these issues in this review. And maybe even add a few sales, for those that happen to like the author's perspectives here. :)

I can't go with a 3 word or less "recommended or not" status like I normally do, so I'll end with this: Read this book. It truly deserves to be read, and outside of the issues noted here it is genuinely a strong book. But for me, and potentially many others, the issues noted here are major problems with what would otherwise be a truly great romance tale.
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Sonali Dev has done it again! Incense and Sensibility masterfully captures the readers attention from page one with Yash Raje being the central Raje sibling character. I cannot speak to the incorporation of Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility as I have not read it but I can say that Dev's iteration of it has made me want to dive deeper in Austen's published works. Back to Incense and Sensibility which is a fairly chaste romance between Yash and India, who share the memory of a perfect night from a decade previously. The beauty of the Rajes Series is Sonali Dev's ability to seamlessly weave important social issues in without coming across gratuitous or preachy they are just part of the story being told. The reader cannot divorce the romance world from present day which is refreshing and authentic. Throughout Incense and Sensibility the 'will-they-won't-they' tension is high and kept me eagerly flipping through the pages to find out what would happen to Yash and India. I never once questioned the viability of these two characters coming together and working their challenges out, I had faith in the universe to make them work. I had hope that a character as scared as Yash could become whole again and that there was still faith to be found in public servants. Thank you for such a beautiful story of love and friendship, I cannot wait to see what comes next from Sonali Dev.
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Being Jane Austen-related will usually get me to try a book, even if it is not what I normal genre. While the Sense and Sensibility theme was subtle enough that is could easily be missed, this books was worth the read.  It wasn't until writing this review that I tried to put the characters in the Sonali Dev book together with their Jane Austen counterparts, when I would normally be making the connection as I read. That said, I was completely engrossed in the characters and their story.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy.
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Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev is an absolutely epic romance. 
India and Yash's tale is truly beautiful. India lives with her high-drama sister and secretly-sick mother over their bay area yoga studio, and Yash, who has his own high-strung family, is running for Governor. An unfortunate (though sadly much too common) incident at the beginning of the book sends the man who spurned her 10 years earlier to India's doorstep with a request for help that only she can provide.
Should she help him? 
I loved both India and Yash from the very beginning of their story, but when Yash is first introduced to Chutney... !!! Let me just tell you, he won my heart all over again.
And then there's the food! I seriously dreamt of it all night long.
And the family. Yes, most of them are high-drama, but they're all well-meaning and lovable. (And the one you don't want to love, redeems at the end so even that one is included.)
This is a super fun, heart-wrenching, heart-warming read. Yes, there's laughter and tears, Sonali always likes to rip your heart out, but she eventually puts it back, even better.
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The charming 3rd addition to Sonali Dev's series of Austen-inspired Romances did not disappoint. I will be honest and say that Sense and Sensibility is not one of my favorite Austen novels, but Incense and Sensibility still managed to knock it out of the park. Witty, full of charm, and sweet this book is a must-read if you enjoy Austen.
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This was such a great read! I am always a sucker for second chance romance storylines. I appreciated that the main characters were mature and honest with each other. My favorite out of the series so far!
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This will-they-won't-they romance was delightful. Rash is running for governor and survives an assassination attempt at a rally, only to begin feeling anxious whenever he is asked to speak in front of crowds after the incident. Following the advice of his family, he seeks out help from India, a woman who teaches yoga and stress management, and is a close friend to Yash's sisters and cousin. India has her own troubles, from being able to keep her family's struggling yoga practice financially stable to convincing her mother to seek medical help for her ailments. When Yash comes to India for help, their past connection springs back to life, causing both of them to feel a bit uncomfortable with each other. As they start opening up to one another, they realize the connection they shared years ago, still exists today. Will they be able to overcome their obstacles to find forever love and to be their true selves?

I enjoyed reading about the nuances of Yash's PTSD and anxiety experiences. This story really allowed Yash to come into his own character in the Raje family (introduced through this series). And the way that India's family looks at health and healing provides a window into a different way of looking at medicine (alternative vs. western), while also acknowledging when they can fail those who believe in them. Recommended for those who enjoyed the other books in the series.
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I didn't realize this was book 3 of a series before I requested it. It was a fun and well done spin on the well known Jane Austen classic. I enjoyed it!

Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow Paperbacks for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This delightful story, loosely inspired by Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, is set in present-day California where Yash, a young Indian-American, is a charismatic candidate for governor. His passion is to use his position to advance the interests and address the concerns of his minority constituents. He is pulling ahead in the race when shots are fired during his speech and his friend and bodyguard, Abdul, is seriously wounded and put in a coma.
Yash is unable to overcome his guilt and fear, and his family turns for help to India Dashwood, a reiki and yoga practitioner who has helped a family member deal with crippling anxiety in the past. Unknown to the family, however, Yash and India have history, and their relationship did not end well. 
The novel is immensely readable, the characters are relatable, and the relationship between the two protagonists unfolds believably, as do relationships between each of them and their respective family members. The novel's understated humor helps to get across themes of America's inequities of opportunity, systemic racism, and the misinformation that is so easily spread by media and politicians alike. Readers will soon become engrossed in the story and find the book hard to put down as the narrative propels them to the final crisis and the satisfying conclusion.
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This third book in the series, all retellings of Jane Austen books through the lives of an Indian-American family, follows Yash Raje, the rising star of California and candidate for governor. The book can be read alone but Yash’s large family is better understood if you’ve read the previous books in the series. A passing familiarity with “Sense & Sensibility” will add to your pleasure, but don’t expect the book to follow Austen’s storyline exactly.  Sonali Dev’s strength is her characters and she follows through in this book, providing people you root for and understand. Another hit!
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Yash Raje is a force to be reckoned; he is a man focused on an agenda to help the poor and disenfranchised while fighting the vicious tiger of racial prejudice that helps foment the lack of affordable health care and other issues. Having been groomed practically from birth to do great things including being the first Indian gubernatorial candidate with a serious chance of winning, Yash is on track to win it all relying on his tightfisted control of emotions and circumstance. He is the golden boy of the Raje family whom all pay homage to putting an inordinate amount of pressure on Yash to succeed.

After a near deadly hate crime fueled attack at a rally leaving his body guard gravely injured, Yash’s carefully constructed world begins to crumble leaving him numb just three months until the vote. The only emotions he can drum up are near panic attacks which will seriously derail every vision and plan he has to change the status quo in California. In desperation, the Raje’s seek help from a close family friend whose Zen demeanor and peaceful presence is a soothing balm to Yash’s tortured soul.

India Dashwood has her own well-respected reputation using the skills learned from her family of yoga teachers, and a long-embraced lifestyle that eschews much of the high intensity, go for broke, stress filled lives of her students. India is also the caretaker in her family devoted to her mother and sister whose lives have quite a bit of drama going on as well. The last thing she wants to do is work with Yash because he broke her heart ten years before in way that left India wounded.

With Yash needing her help; India would never refuse someone in such desperate straits despite the personal cost. India vows not to fall again for this man again despite the depth of her feelings, or the fact that clearly, they have a powerful relationship. She offers Yash a grace and mercy that he does not deserve after his heartless treatment of her long ago. His recent trauma causes other defining incidents in Yash’s life to resurface further debilitating his ability to come back from the attempted assassination. For them to be together, Yash must decide if he is willing to give up the dream; one he and everyone in the Raje family have long held. Yash’s struggle is a reminder that even the most seemingly put together people can be quite wounded and lonely even when surrounded by those who love them.

In this third book of the Raje series, Ms. Dev puts her readers through quite an intense ride of strong emotions and heartfelt intentions. As did Jane Austen, she knows how to interweave the complexities of close family and friends who help and hinder the main characters in equal measures. The original themes in Sense and Sensibility of honor, self-sacrifice, and a deep abiding love hold true as well. This book can be read as a stand alone although characters and background have been previously established. Fans of the series will be very pleased to have Yash and India’s story while catching up the Raje family.
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A story of family and friendship and being true to yourself as you find your path. Yash has devoted has life to public service and as a candidate for California governor has made choices to make it happen. But when an unexpected event rocks his world he questions a decades old choice. India is a stress management coach and runs her family's yoga studio but is surprised when Yash comes to for help due to their unresolved past. Will they finally resolve what happened a decade ago?
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And, Sonali's streak continues - great characters, wonderful story, clever take on a classic, and a happy ending we can all believe in. I'm so thankful that Sonali loves Jane Austen as much as I do, so treats it with respect and a wink.
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I received an ARC through net galley.

First off, this book is a sequel which I did not know, it made things a bit confusing at first but I eventually understood what was going on. One thing that was a consistantly confusing was how she called her mom either mom or Tara, at times I couldn't remember that they were the same person.

Yash and India are amazing. The fact that neither one of them was ever able to find something like what they have with each other made everything so special. I love that they were both brutally honest with each other the whole time, it made it feel very real.
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Contemporary retelling of sense and sensibility. I thought it was a fresh take,and I really enjoyed it. Would reccomend for a weekend read
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Can't get enough of Sonali Dev. I will keep reading everything she writes. This is a beautiful story, the characters are so real and human. They've got depth and it's lovely.
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This contemporary adaptation of Sense and Sensibility misses the mark for me. The current story is so divorced from the original content that readers become distracted trying to connect the two plots when they could have otherwise enjoyed a perfectly fine romance. My understanding is that it is part of a series of Austen adaptations, so it is possible coming in several volumes in made this more noticeable than it might otherwise have been?
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