Hard Play, Book #2
Heat Factor: OMG! They’re both virgins!!! Love it!
Character Chemistry: If my LI frowned and told me that something I described as romantic wasn’t romantic, it was simply a spouse listening to a spouse’s needs and taking care of them, I would be like, “Let’s just schedule that wedding right now, then, so you can start taking care of me.”
Plot: Nayna is really going through a quarter-life crisis. Raj is hoping he can hang on for the ride.
Overall: The (everyday) romance of this book is AMAZING
I am not usually excited about stories that involve self-isolation as a means of finding oneself or “thinking things through,” but Singh makes a really good case for Nayna in Rebel Hard. As the book opens, Nayna has agreed to a traditional arranged marriage because she’s been trying to be perfect for her parents ever since her sister eloped at 19, but as she starts to come to terms with that process and what marriage might mean to her, she begins to feel trapped by family and tradition and the fact that she’s really never made a decision for herself.
Raj was abandoned as a 4yo and, after two years at an orphanage, was adopted by his parents. As a result of this traumatic formative experience, he wants to stay grounded in his family’s roots and tradition, and has asked his parents to arrange a marriage for him. But after he meets Nayna at a party, he decides that he can’t go through with the process when he’s stuck on the mysterious woman who fired him up and ran.
Fun story: before either protagonist can tell their parents that they don’t want to go the arranged marriage route anymore, their parents arrange for them to meet. So this is both an arranged marriage and a love match book. How do you like them apples?
There’s so much here, with so many characters making so many emotional messes that are so relatable where family and a huge life decision like marriage are concerned. Nayna is particularly skittish not only because she hasn’t been living her own life. It’s also because her only experience with marriage is watching her mother always following her father’s lead and watching the women of her own age being miserable in their marriages as things fall apart. So really Nayna is dealing with fears about discrepancies between what she wants versus what she thinks her marriage would be like. Though, criminy, these two have so many concerns about how the other is feeling or how they can work things out, they really ought to talk to each other about their worries.
The generational culture-clash is also absorbing, with no one being fully any one thing. The parents are pretty traditional BUT, for example, Nayna’s parents freeze out a prospective spouse for being colorist, and Raj’s family doesn’t worry that he’s adopted and doesn’t know his bloodlines. There’s tension between the older generation and the younger generation wanting to do non-traditional things, but at the end of the day, the older generation would rather have a family than be outrageously stubborn about toeing the line. It’s all very thoughtful and normal.
Anyway. This book is absolutely swoon-worthy.
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