by Farah Heron
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 02 Mar 2021 | Archive Date 06 Apr 2022
A delightful romantic comedy featuring a Muslim woman who fakes an engagement to the boy next door in the hopes of winning a couples cooking contest.
When it comes to bread, Reena Manji knows exactly what she's doing. She treats her sourdough starters like (somewhat unruly) children. But when it comes to Reena's actual family -- and their constant meddling in her life-well, that recipe always ends in disaster.
Now Reena's parents have found her yet another potential Good Muslim Husband. This one has the body of Captain America, a delicious British accent, and lives right across the hall. He's the perfect, mouthwatering temptation . . . and completely ruined by the unwelcome side dish of parental interference.
Reena refuses to marry anyone who works for her father. She won't be attracted to Nadim's sweet charm or gorgeous lopsided smile. That is, until the baking opportunity of a lifetime presents itself: a couples' cooking competition with the prize of her dreams. Reena will do anything to win -- even asking Nadim to pretend they're engaged. But when it comes to love, baking your bread doesn't always mean you get to eat it too.
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Average rating from 460 members
Okay, I LOVED this book. Like seriously loved it. Like read-it-in-one-sitting loved it. It has everything that makes a romance fun and exciting, an adorable couple, fun friends, family secrets (some hilariously awful--I'm looking at you, Saira's ex-boyfriend), over-breaking-but-lovable-families, parents on social media, and a cooking competition. This book is fun and swoony but also keeps you on your toes because you want to find out ALL THE THINGS and how everything is related, and it is ALL SO GOOD.
Reena and Nadim are an adorable couple and with like SO MUCH CHEMISTRY. It jumps off the page in every seen and you just want them together (and lice-free) for always. I love how both of their arcs are about them finding away to be what they want to be for their families while still being themselves. And how they do both bring out the best in them.
This book is single POV and Reena's and she is just so relatable and you just feel every emotion, all the good stuff but also all the painful insecure stuff, that makes her journey just perfect.
Also, the family relationships, especially Reena's with her parents and siblings and the arcs those have are just so well done and beautiful. It shows that families can fundamentally love each other but also struggle how to make each other happy and care for and communicate with each other. It's the right kind of family drama, at least in my book and I loved watching the relationships shift and grow and just get better. Especially Reena and Saira, I mean, that was, I just loved how that unfolded.
Anyway, I'm babbling. This was just SO GOOD. Like everything about it. The humor, the story, and my goodness, the characters (also the food, theirs lots of delicious food), OH, and getting to see more Amira and Duncan from The Chai Factor, it's just like EVERYTHING and I can't recommend it enough.
Thank you so much to Forever and NetGalley for letting me read early in exchange for an honest review. You made my weekend.
Yessss!! I can honestly announce: we have another winner! This is entertaining, laugh out loud, sweet, emotional!
There is desi wedding, Indian family traditions, noisy parents, vivid characters, lots of yummy foods, a yummy hero with sexy British accent and natural, strong, easily likable heroine!
There are also so many secrets, gossips, dramas but the way they’re coming out is also smart, absurd, enjoyable! Angsty parts don’t tear your guts, thankfully they were well balanced. And conclusion is sweet like dhokla ( I was curious about that Indian desert since I watched Three Idiots)
Reena Manji , 31 , hates her job, is amazing cook, once upon a time a successful food blogger after being sabotaged by her own little sister. She is so pissed off the nonstop intrusions and prying of her family. She wants to be independent, making decisions freely without expecting their approval.
But when her hottie new neighbor Nadim with sexy British accent appears at the hallway with his gorgeous posture and flirty manners, she hardly resist his charm till she learns he is the guy works with his father and he is also the arranged husband they expect her to marry!
Hell no! Even though he is hot as hell, he is sweet, he is great listener and he has great hands to massage her scalp and he is also talented to give fantastic foot massage!
Again hell no! But when they were both drunk, he was so entertaining to join her to shoot a cooking video together which goes viral and they become finalists of a cooking show Reena wants to attend!
Now she has second thoughts because that competition is for couples! She knows she can win it! If she asks nicely to Nadim to pretend like her fiancée throughout the competition she can win the scholarship of the baking school she can hardly pay with her regular pay checks !
Guess what? Nadim says “yes” and they are perfect pretending couple in front of the cameras so nobody needs to know their secret! But when Reena has the noisiest family on the planet , she may realize nothing can stay secret in the family including Nadim’s grandiose secret which can change their blossoming intense relationship.
Overall: I’m rounding up 4.5 stars to 5 I laughed so much till my cheeks hurt like hell but it’s truly worth it stars!
I love Manji family and their scandalous secrets and I loved the chemistry, romance between Reena and Nadim. And I’m a true lover of great food! So this book was like heaven to me!
So much thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing/ Forever for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
I was so excited to read this one because I loved The Chai Factor, and I loved Accidentally Engaged even more! It will definitely make you hungry for bread, so be forewarned. Interestingly this book is even more relatable during the pandemic, when the new normal is baking bread and being let go over video conference.
I thought that it was cute when they went the farm to get fresh eggs. I like how the family is multidimensional, and how they decide to resolve their drama. I definitely would have voted for them to win the TV show. The Jeffs sound nice too though.
I am hooked and am committed to reading everything by Fara Heron from now on!
Reena Manji loves to bake. Baking bread is a hobby and it brings her joy. What doesn't bring her joy - a) her overbearing Indian family b) her job in finance c) Nadim, her new neighbor who just happens to be the same guy Reena's parents are trying to get her to marry.
Reena and Nadim eventually form a friendship. This friendship turns into a fake engagement when Reena and Nadim sign themselves up as cooking contestants for a show on FoodTV. They have so much fun cooking together that they decide to keep on going with the ruse as well as the cooking competition. But when they're always in such close proximity will the lines start to blur between a fake engagement and a real relationship?
I honestly enjoyed Accidentally Engaged so much. I loved the desi representation and I have so many parts of the book highlighted. I related to Reena and Nadim's characters A LOT - from her overbearing parents, to the food, to small things like going shopping for Indian outfits with your aunts and cousins.
Nadim and Reena's relationship from dislike to friends to lovers was so sweet. These two had such great chemistry and I was rooting for them throughout the whole book. Reading this book made me hungry - so keep that in mind! I loved all of the secondary character's from Reena's best friend to her sister. Overall I highly enjoyed Accidentally Engaged and would give it 4.5 stars!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.
A really satisfying read that delivers HEAs in multiple dimensions!
Now having read the full book, my review of the 4 chapter preview stands: Farah Heron sets up vivid characters, sibling conflict, a hot neighbor, delivers some funny lines, and introduces a realist MC who calls it like she sees it. Accidentally Engaged bursts with personality and is uplifting without being treacly. Although I'm not South Asian, this feels like a more modern, or maybe just more fleshed out, representation of family dynamics than we've seen in other stories. (I'll be looking to see if #ownvoices reviews confirm that). Sure, Reena's parents are still focused on getting their kids married off, but they're also looking the other way on a lot about how the kids are living their lives.
Like Farrah Rochon's The Boyfriend Project, I'd call this one romantic women's fiction. Reena's fake engagement to Nadim is absolutely central to the story, but she's also contending with losing her finance job, following her dreams to win a scholarship to culinary school, and dealing with family drama. In fact, I actually found myself way more interested in the family / community drama than the FoodTV contest Reena and Nadim enter (which is weird, since I'm super into food and cooking).
There is one interaction between Reena and Nadim early on that had me going, Ew, what? There is NO universe in which that is sexy. It's not about kink-shaming or anything like that, you'll know it when you get to it.
Overall, I loved Accidentally Engaged. Definitely putting it on my buy in hard copy list for 2021.
Heat level: Closed door.
💕 Yes! This is the book I needed right now. Accidentally Engaged is a true romcom. I absolutely adored it. At the time that I read it, I was in a place where I needed some cheering up and this book gave me all the smiles.
Reena is an East African Indian Muslim woman who’s parents “suggest” an appropriate husband for her, but Reena won’t marry someone who her parents are involved with. Despite being attracted to Nadim, her neighbor who also works for her father and who she describes as brown Captain America, she wants to keep their relationship in the friend zone. However, Reena ends up willing to fake her engagement to Nadim in order to participate in a couples cooking contest.
😃 Reena and Nadim were incredibly fun to read. I highlighted so many lines in this book. I love the way Nadim jokes with Reena. I was laughing out loud and smiling at their tender moments. Nadim is a sweetheart, definitely one to add to the book boyfriend list. The way the author writes about them, their connections were steamy even in a closed-door romance. As funny as this book is, it also packs depth in the pages. Topics in the book include mental illness, parental and cultural expectations, and family secrets.
🌟 It was interesting to read about Reena & Nadim’s Indian-East African culture and traditional food. Reena bakes a lot of bread and now I’m in serious need of some yummy sourdough bread. 🍞 Canada was also a big feature in the book, with the story taking place in Toronto. I think it’s funny that recently I keep hearing about how polite Canadians are and it’s mentioned in this book, too. 🇨🇦
🍛 Be sure to read the author’s acknowledgements for great insight as well as the bonus recipes at the end of the book!
😂 Nadim: “I googled hipster for the North American definition. I don’t think you meant it as a compliment.”
💎 (Reena) “Fusion had its time and place, but with all the crap minorities were facing in the world, she didn’t feel much like making the food she grew up on more palatable to mainstream tastes.”
Thank you to Net Galley and Forever for a digital arc in exchange for an honest review.
There are so many things to love about Accidentally Engaged.
Reena is a smart, funny and talented protagonist, and Nadim is so charming and sweet. In fact, I loved all of the characters, which include Reena's hilarious friends and meddling family. And while the plot is a touch ridiculous, Farah Heron managed to make it work. Of course, attention needs to be paid to the mouth-watering descriptions of the food, which left my stomach growling pretty much the entire time I read this book.
I'm always on the search for sharp, witty rom-coms, and this one definitely fits the bill. I'm excited to see what the author does next!
I absolutely loved the book.
Rep: East Africa/Indian Muslim characters living in Canada
Reena: She is working in a job she's not the biggest fan of. So, in her free time, she follows her passion. Baking Bread. She loves everything about it. Her family is a typical Indian family, and I could so relate to it. They're full of secrets, oh-what-would-the-society-say, caring about promotions in work, and all about the "normal" life. I also loved her sister. She was so well thought out too.
Nadim: He is a little bit of a mystery. But, there is no mystery in the fact that he loves her bread. Reena's father gives Nadim an apartment right beside Reena in the hopes that they would fall for each other and get married (for business purposes, ofc). Nadim is just one of my fav Indian Book boyfriends ever. He was sweet, helpful, sexy, brought Reena baked goods, and absolutely swoon-worthy. Oh, did I forget, also a brown Captain America.
Relationship: These two had to fake being engaged because the cooking competition that Reena wanted to participate in was a couples only. Nadim agrees to help her out and oh my god, those scenes where they're pretending. Absolute FIRE. Like Nadim was soo good, and flirty and naughty. He has a past, and Reena has trust issues. She doesn't want to marry a man that her family has found because she knows that if she does, her family would interfere in her relationship till the end of time. These two have a good push and pull, there is angst, past, revelations, and really sweet moments.
I could not stop reading the book and finished it in a day.
My only complain was that the sex was closed door. Like these two had such great chemistry. And every time they kissed, and HEAVILY made out, I hyperventilated. If only the author didn't fade the sex to black, it would have been a five star for me.
A woman in her thirties—Reena—whose passion for cooking and baking makes her finance job look even more dull, and an eligible bachelor and real estate dealer posing as a marriage prospect—Nadim—are thrown in neighboring apartments of a building in Toronto, through a happenstance set up by Reena's desi parents who are adamant on finding that perfect Muslim husband for their daughter. Efforts meet fate when Nadim agrees to be Reena's partner at a local cooking contest; consequently faking an engagement since only couples are allowed to compete; and the latter can no longer dodge this matchmaking attempt by her parents because Nadim's charm and British accent is gravitational. Intricate in the aspect of exploring family dynamics, past secrets, hurtful instances, one's career taking a nosedive, and cultural expectations, this romance focuses extensively on finding oneself uninfluenced by familial duty while coming to terms with personal motivations and fulfilling individual progress. The resplendent descriptions of food, a chemistry brewing from believable plotlines, and scenes involving adorable parents on social media, this adult contemporary romance satiates on many levels while leaving one hungry for a slightly more focus on Nadim too.
Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron, for release March 2, 2021
“A delightful romantic comedy featuring a Muslim woman who fakes an engagement to the boy next door in the hopes of winning a couples cooking contest.”
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Farah Heron’s writing style since I read The Chai Factor. I had no idea this was a companion book and was really excited when I realized! Accidentally Engaged is such a lovely blend of comedy while tackling serious issues.
Here are just some of the amazing things about this one:
💚Nadim is described as a Brown Captain America. Need I say more?
💗Farah’s books have amazing Canada rep. This particular one takes place in Toronto and I squealed every time it was mentioned 😅
💚As a self described glutton, all the food references made me hungry!!
💗This book also touched on mental illness and portrayed therapy in such a wonderful way.
💚The chemistry between Reena and Nadim from the moment of their meet cute was so enjoyable to read.
Massive thank you to Forever, Netgalley and Farah Heron for access to this wonderful read 💕
Reena Manji has been laid off once again and she dreads telling her parents because they will no doubt want to fix everything by giving her a job in the family's business. Her true passion is baking all kinds of delicious breads. One day she runs into her new, and very attractive, neighbor, Nadim. Turns out he is her dad's newest employee and apparently her husband to be!
She has no intention of marrying who her parents have decided for her and she makes it well known to him. After a night of much drinking, Reena and Nadim spontaneously enter a cooking contest while pretending to be engaged. Sparks fly and they can't deny the attraction between themselves, however, Nadim has a past and secrets he hasn't revealed.
This was a fun read! There were parts that dragged a bit, but overall it was a cute story and boy did it make me hungry! 😆 I love all cuisines, but there's nothing like authentic, flavorful Indian food! I liked how the author added a couple of recipes at the end.
Thank you to Netgalley and Forever for the ARC of this book!
This book deserves all of the fantastic five stars I rated it. Heron did an amazing job of balancing out the fun flirty moments with the deep serious moments and even intertwined aspects of South Asian culture throughout the story.
What I loved about this book:
1. Heron absolutely nailed the plot of this book and wrote absolutely lovable characters. I loved Reena's character and all her swoony interaction with Nadim. Their friends to lovers to fake relationship romance highlighted their great chemistry and I was absolutely rooting for them to find their HEA. I may have shed a few tears towards the end of this book, but I spent a majority of my time giggling and swooning.
2. The Manji family and all of their secrets took denial to the extreme, but it was also hard not to laugh a bit when I learned the lengths they went to keep them. You will definitely laugh out loud when they all come spilling out While Reena's sister had a few struggles of her own she was working through, it was nice to see her prioritizing the repair of her relationship with Reena.
3. I loved how aspects of both Reena and Nadim's culture were intertwined throughout this book. I loved learning more about their heritage and I definitely loved all the yummy food I got to read about. This book may have inspired me to get my own sourdough starter, but I promise not to make the same mistake Nadim did. If I do, starters for everyone. 😂
This laugh out loud amazing romance read is definitely a book you won't want to miss. Make sure to add it to your want to read list on Goodreads so you get all it's updates. This book is expected to publish March 2, 2021.
This book soothed my 2020 battered soul; it was such a treat to read. So much to love about it!
Reena, a middle child, with a very (overly) involved Muslim family works at a finance job that she doesn't love. Which makes it all the more insulting when she's laid-off. Her real passion is cooking but her younger sister managed to sabotage Reena's successful food blog and cookbook deal.
She comes home to discover she has a new neighbor - he's a brown Captain America with a gorgeous British accent and tons of charm. MeOW! Until she finds out that Nadim is the Good Muslim man she's supposed to marry to help her family's business. Hell, no! But, he's so dreamy...
After maybe one drink too many, Reena and Nadim shoot a cooking video and enter a contest. The prize just happens to be a scholarship to the very culinary school that Reena was thinking of emptying her savings to attend. The catch? It's a contest about family cooks so Reena and Nadim need to be faux engaged.
But she still tells her parents that she's not marrying Nadim. Even though she likes him. A LOT.
Reena is so relatable as a thirty-something woman trying to figure out her career, dealing with the stress of being laid off. Again. Not wanting her parents' help. Not really wanting to stay in finance but not sure about following her dream of culinary school. Wanting a relationship but not because her parents arrange it. Trying to figure out her relationship with her sister. Feeling like a failure compared to what looks like her older brother's perfect life.
Accidentally Engaged didn't just deal with career woes and a pushy family. Farah Heron also addressed mental illness, stress, and depression.
The writing is so engaging with so much sparkling banter. Reena's friends are warm, supportive, and funny as hell. Shout out for the LGBTQ+ rep.
And the connection between Reena and Nadim is H-O-T! Super-steamy scenes ensue.
I loved learning about East Indian/African food and traditions. And OMG. Reena's bread baking had me absolutely salivating. I wanted one of those sourdough starter babies!
If you're a fan of Sara Desai or Sonali Dev, READ this! And then read the first book, The Chai Factor. Do it! Food, eccentric family antics, and a sweet, steamy romance - the perfect read.
Something about Farah Heron's writing really works for me. The humor maybe?
Reena is smart and generous and all sorts of things, but she's also just... real. Her situation, stuck in a career field that she doesn't love, getting laid off once again and trying to avoid the pressure and judgment of family who (while well-intentioned) have no idea what she wants in life, is as frustrating as it is mundane. So often, we read about protagonists who have this overwhelming drive and a great career and all they're "missing" is a relationship. But Reena is just sort of floating along and that's really close to home, for me at least.
I loved the way Reena and Nadim came together, messy and complicated as it was. Reena's got a lot of life and family stuff to sort through, but the romance is central enough that I don't think it was overshadowed.
I was so happy to see Amira and Duncan again, too. :)
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher for review. A different version of this review will run at Shelf Awareness.
I ABSOLUTELY fell in love with this story. As a member of minority and growing up as a South Asian in Toronto, I was able to relate to the characters in many ways. Not being a norm to talk about mental health in our culture, and having way too involved parents who do not understand modern day society, were some issues that the book mentioned that I have personally experienced. Reena reminds me of myself in so many ways; trying to figure out her identity outside of her parents' nest, and still figuring out where she stands in her career. Nadim is the perfect person for Reena, who was there for her when she was at her lowest. I loved how the couple bonded over cooking. This novel is needed for our society today, to remember what multiculturalism is and to be accepting of all cultures. A wonderful story indeed, I will definitely recommend this to many people.
A delightful and cute rom-com of Reena and Nadim with all the Indian food and the desi meddling family.
Summary: Reena is currently in a job she is not really enjoying and is actually aspiring to become a baker/chef. Nadim is in Canada to work with her father and is also a potential groom for her. Though she is attracted to him right away, she is not ready for a relationship at the time. But when an opportunity presents itself which might help her get closer to her dream job, in the form of a cooking competition for couples, she decides to get into a pretend-engagement with Nadim. With all this, there is also a major scandal and secrets that Nadim hasn't been open with, which is another huge can of worms. With a meddling family, though with best interests, and their true feelings coming out, will they simply continue to pretend or make it true?
Thoughts: I loved everything about this book. It definitely made me get some sourdough bread and samosas right away. Being an Indian, I just loved how the food was described even those that I eat pretty regularly sounded amazing. Reena and Nadim made an adorable couple and have crackling chemistry which I definitely enjoyed. There was angst and steam and it was closed-door but cute. The Tanzanian-Indian culture was completely new to me and I got to learn so much about it.
Having seen a couple of my friends keep a sourdough starter, name it and literally feed it like a pet for years, I felt the connection to the book quickly and once there were more food references, I knew I was absolutely going to enjoy it. It was nice to see all the friends and family also introduced with some character development instead of just being referenced when the plot needed. With such a fun book, the author also managed to include the mental health issues within the plot.
Thank you Forever and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
I really loved this book! It focuses on so much more than just the romance aspect, it dives into the many facets of Reema's life as a single woman in her thirties, trying to find what makes her happy.
There are so many layers of complication to Reema and Nadim's relationship, and I was definitely rooting for them them the whole time. Nadim is the sweetest little quirky cinnamon roll, and I was smitten by him from the beginning.
Reema is real and relateable, even as she navigates a cooking show contest and a fake engagement, while trying to deal with a career crisis and her overbearing Indian family.
And the food aspect of this book left me with huge food cravings! Bread, craft beer, and the amazing Indian cuisine had my mouth watering. In fact, as soon as I finished, I made lentil soup and naan!
The writing is well-paced, and interesting, so I never felt a lull, and just kept turning the pages. I liked how the characters worked through their issues, normalizing mental illness and dealing with high-stakes problems in a purposeful way.
This book is the perfectly sweet HEA I was needing, and I'm looking forward to this author's other books!
This was an extremely welcome and charming read that made me hungry for all the bread! Reena and Nadin were perfect fake relationship goals from her constant refusal to actually marry him and all their family secrets. This book had me both googling Indian food recipes and considering keeping my own sourdough starter and although it was a closed door romance there was plenty of steam!
I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an upbeat romance that manages to cover some fairly heavy topics in an approachable and nuanced way.
WOW! Just wow! I absolutely ADORED this book. I devoured it. (Ha, get it?) The characters were messy and flawed, but lovable. I was rooting for Reena and Nadim. The writing was gorgeous, the romance intimate and believable. I also really want some bread.
One of the best romances I've ever read!
“I’ve moved a lot, but my soul always knows when I’m home.” This quote hit me extremely hard, and the book just kept getting better.
Accidentally Engaged follows Reena and Nadim through their fake relationship filled with a cooking contest, comforting food and company, and an inevitable pull between them (even as they fight against family pressure).
I was very excited to read this ARC, and it did not disappoint! While I do not share Reena and Nadim’s culture, I do share in the experience of having this connection to my culture through food. Reading this book reminded me of how grateful I am to have that culture. Additionally, it was comforting to read about Nadim’s experience moving around (re: the quote above), as it felt similar to my own experiences of moving extremely often.
This romcom is beautifully has a nice bit of tension, tradition, love, and food. I loved that the book dives into Reena and Saira's relationship, her sister, and their familial struggles. I loved the interactions between Reena and Nadim. I loved how human and relatable all of the characters were. This book feels like the warmth of the bite of freshly baked bread. Absolutely going on my Must Reads of 2021.
This is a perfect book for fans of The Great British Baking Show! Loved this fake relationship romance and the female main character's journey to working through her issues with her family (especially her sister) and discover what she really wants to do. As someone who took a couple of detours and spent some time unemployed, I could related very much to her. And of course, I love when an author writes about food!
i was so excited for this book because FAKE DATING!! god tier trope!
reena was just trying to live her life and make bread while trying to avoid her meddling family's constant attempts to set her up with men. she ends up asking her new neighbor, and intended fiancé, nadim to pretend they're engaged to enter a cooking contest. we all know what happens next...
books about cooking are always so fun! i adored nadim so much. i loved reena's friends (and found family) so much. i'm glad reena was able to make things right with her family.
i liked how the book dealt with serious topics such as mental illness. reena's coping mechanisms were unhealthy and it's good that she finally figured out that seeking help is okay.
What a breathtaking combination of sizzling chemistry between two fake love birds along with mouthwatering culinary treat!! This is my first book by author Farah Heron and it was such a delight to get lost in her captivating story plot and well built characters that I can’t wait to pick up her debut novel “The Chai Factor”
Reena Manji is a 31 year old single girl who is not happy with her finance job, her current life and her family’s intrusion to get her married! There is one thing she LOVES and that is cooking and baking esp. sourdough and rye breads!! She was one time successful blogger, that got sabotaged by her own sister. Oh boy! this book has such a vivid culinary details that you can’t help craving those yummy breads and Indian snacks!! Reena comes across her new neighbor Nadim, who looks like a brown Mr. Captain America, with British accent, a Tanzanian descent with Indian roots. He is employed at her dads and they are strongly pushing her to get married to him.
This book is all about love, family drama, wedding, cute charades and lots and lots of of cooking and baking with food contest and falling for the guy you did not plan for!! Get a copy as soon as possible to read if Reena make a career out of her passion for cooking, or does she end up marrying the guy chosen by her parents??
This was a 5 star read for me and I highly recommend this book to any romcom fan who is looking for a light, laugh out fun read with love for food!! Thank you @foreverpublisher, @netgalley and @farahheron for a gifted copy of this book in exchange of my honest review!
Now I LOVE reading books that are romance with a heavy interest in family and hobbies. So Accidentally Engaged really ticked all the boxes for me. As an Indian person myself I KNOW how crucial food is not only as fuel but as a sense of connection as well. I also know all too well about how overbearing family can be, especially when they're all you have to rely on. Being an immigrant with a huge family is hard. On on hand you crave the closeness and on the other you see the toxicity that brings.
I loved how this book didn't veer away from any of that. Between Reena's and Saira's struggles with their parents love and feeling how conditional it was when stacked up against their golden child - aka always the older brother, I saw a mirror into my own family. There are secrets we keep just so the family can function. But just as in the book, "We must learn to let each other into our lives". A stoic family may look good on paper and pictures but neither of those can support you.
I haven't even gotten into the romance of the book yet. 10/10 stars. I loved everyone of their moments, from the charismatic interactions on the camera to their lice moments to his foot fetish. Sometimes romance books can make the male lead feel less like a person and more a walking checklist of desirable traits, but this author really humanized Nadim.
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The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I could not get enough of this book. The character development was done so well. The love that blossoms between our two protagonist will tug at all your heartstrings. I laughed so much because Reena was hilarious. The banter between Reena and Nadim is sooooo good. I could have honestly read 100 more pages cause I was not ready to let them go. The cultural and family ties embedded throughout the stories are complicated but shape the story in a beautiful way. The theme throughout the book was the connection we have to our roots through food and I so resonated with that. That’s how Peruvian food feels to me and Nadim constantly saying he felt at home when tasting Reena’s cooking made this story that much more special for me.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I now know Farrah Heron will be on my “must read” list from now on. This book was sexy, funny, thoughtful, surprising, and heartwarming. Heron’s ability to weave family dynamics with a new relationship with typical thirties struggles was so well-done, I keep expecting to run in to Nadim and Reena at my neighborhood bar.
4.5 stars, rounded up
I am usually quite hesitant to read novels about South Asian characters surrounding arranged marriages, as I believe there are too many of them and these stories seem to be what the publishing industry expects from South Asian romance authors. With this, I was a bit wary when I began reading, but ended up really enjoying this novel and finding it such a fun read.
A few things I loved about this novel – all of the cooking and food that was described, the friendship between Amira and Reena, and highlighting the extent of the Indian diaspora. Reena’s love of cooking and baking was extremely relatable, and even inspired me to end up making egg curry for dinner one day. Her love of baking bread was so relatable, since this has been a hobby many of us took up over the past year of lockdown. The friendship between Amira and Reena was one of my favorite parts of this novel, and I was happy to learn that Amira’s story has its own book, The Chai Factor, which I haven’t yet read but definitely will be reading soon! Finally, I really loved the representation of Reena and Nadim’s families both being Indian, but also from Tanzania. Many people, especially in the Western world don’t realize the reach of the Indian diaspora and this novel really highlights the extent of it, which I loved.
I was constantly craving some yummy sourdough bread when I was reading this book and just had to get a lovely loaf from my favorite local bakery Acme Bread Company to curb my cravings.
A huge thank you to NetGalley, Forever, and Grand Central Publishing for the gifted ARC and finished copy of this lovely book!