Nights at the Mahal, Book #2
Heat Factor: Not super explicit
Character Chemistry: Instalove, but I bought it
Plot: Ethan crashes the wrong wedding, but the bride runs away with him anyways
So remember on Wednesday, when I posted a review and was like, “This book had too much realism?!?!” It turns out that Running Away with the Bride is exactly the level of bonkers I was looking for. Here’s the blurb:
Stop the wedding! Steal the bride!
And fall for a perfect stranger?
Billionaire Ethan Connors vows to stop his ex’s wedding so they can be together. But crashing the wrong nuptials and spiriting away the wrong wife-to-be is more than he bargained for! Divya Singh is beautiful, talented, passionate…and from a traditional Indian family who won’t accept him as a match for their daughter. Can Divya and Ethan’s unexpected relationship stay the course or will one of them run again?
See? Bonkers set up! But given that bonkers set up, the resolution is remarkably drama-free. And that, dear reader, is exactly the dynamic I want in my romance. Because it’s still a fantasy, but the characters act in reasonable ways given their ridiculous situation.
Ethan and Divya are both likable characters with a bit of baggage about their respective families. Ethan struggles with feeling unloved (a case of Bad Dad), and always cuts and runs before he can get hurt. Divya loves her family deeply, but also feels smothered by their expectations.
When Ethan crashes the wedding, Divya jumps at the opportunity to just run away – she doesn’t want to be getting married, but couldn’t quite figure out how to extricate herself. (This is the one bit that doesn’t quite jibe with later depictions of her character and her family, but we need that bonkers opening to get things going so just roll with it.) And she has a dream about signing at an open mic night at a specific club in New York, but it’s not like she has a wallet with her, so Ethan agrees to take her there. He failed at winning back his ex, after all, so what else is he going to do with that private jet he has ready and waiting? (Again, this may strain credulity a bit, but you just have to embrace the premise.)
Once Ethan and Divya start road-tripping around, there are two main parts to the action.
- Bucket list bonding activities (ie, falling in love)
- Meeting the parents
The main source of conflict here is cultural, to wit: can midwestern white-bread Ethan fit in with Divya’s Indian family? Her family certainly thinks not, and Divya also has her doubts. Her doubts are compounded by the fact that she and Ethan want different things; Divya wants to (finally) have some adventures, and Ethan is ready to settle down and have a family.
I do want to mention that Ethan is probably the most interesting Tech Bro CEO Billionaire I’ve ever read. He’s almost 40, and made his billions recently. Furthermore, he feels weird and guilty and uncomfortable about his wealth – he made a price-comparison app that blew up during the pandemic (this is a post-pandemic contemporary), so he feels that he just got really lucky. He keeps trying to buy his family fancy things, which they don’t want, which makes him feel like they’re rejecting him and his desire to care for the people he loves. In short, he has none of the hallmarks of a standard CEO Billionaire Hero except for his AmEx Black Card with no spending limit. No paternalistic nonsense here!
Anyways, the climactic drama occurs when Ethan returns Divya to her family. In a pretty hilarious scene, she coaches him on exactly the way he needs to act for her family to accept him. And, of course, he follows none of her advice because he wants them to accept them for who he is and recognize his love for Divya without a bunch of bullshit. Everything goes very very badly.
The resolution is perhaps a little bit abrupt, but I still enjoyed this book immensely. It was just light and fun and fluffy.
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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