The Rajes, Book 2
Review of The Rajes, Book 1
Heat Factor: Fade to black
Character Chemistry: Swoon-worthy
Plot: Ashna enters a cooking competition in a bid to save her floundering restaurant, only to discover that her competition partner is her high school boyfriend slash love of her life.
Overall: If you can power through the angst, the payoff is so worth it
When I read Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors, I was in such a glow over finding a Pride and Prejudice retelling that actually understood the source material that I kind of forgot that Dev writes really angsty books. Like. Really angsty.
In Recipe for Persuasion, Ashna carries the angst. She was honestly a challenging heroine for me. In P&P&OF, she came across as kind and helpful and calm, but here, we get a glimpse into Ashna’s inner life, and she is actually a quivering ball of angst and rage and anxiety and sadness. All of Dev’s characters have serious baggage, but Ashna’s baggage really defines her – it shapes all of her interactions and the armor she wears (all the time). So when we’re inside her head, she becomes reduced down to her baggage. I really appreciate prickly, unlikable heroines, and I doubly appreciated the tension between Ashna’s smooth facade and her internal turmoil. But I must admit that her chapters were kind of a slog because they made me so uncomfortable, especially in the beginning.
Rico more than makes up for it – he’s an amazing hero. First, he’s a soccer superstar. With a man bun. He has a lot of angst and anger about the way his relationship with Ashna ended, back when they were in high school; in fact, he has some vague revenge / closure ideas in mind when he finagles his way into competing with Ashna on Cooking with the Stars. However, he quickly figures out that while the hurt is still there, it doesn’t matter if the connection between them is still real. Basically, he still has angst, but it doesn’t define his entire being.
I will admit to crying at the end. I was so glad to see Ashna finally be happy and have some love and joy in her life. Also, some of the moments of them coming together are so beautiful. How can you not love a man who says “I don’t know how to be me without you”? (I’m crying again, even though pulling the line out of context from the whole book makes it seem kinda cheesy. It’s not cheesy, guys. It’s romantic.)
A few incidental notes:
- Recipe for Persuasion is the second in the series that covers a big family full of drama. I would say it works fine as a stand-alone, but reading them both would definitely give you a larger picture of the characters. I found myself wanting to reread Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors not because I was confused, but because I wanted to check back on how secondary characters were portrayed, as Ashna and Trisha have really different perspectives on their family members.
- Dev also includes a detailed secondary plot about Ashna’s mother, with whom Ashna has an extremely strained relationship, and whose story thematically mirrors Ashna’s own in some interesting ways. I think it worked, but other readers might find it distracting. It does mean that there’s less time for Rico to shine.
- This is a retelling of Austen’s Persuasion, which I am less familiar with, so I can’t comment on the specific beats of the story. From what I recall, Dev follows the general arc of the story pretty well.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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