If Shakespeare was an Auntie, Book #1
Heat Factor: There’s plenty of stuff that goes on, but he is very invested in her, er, orchid.
Character Chemistry: It’s Something at first sight, they just can’t agree on what that Something is.
Plot: They’re soulmates who have fundamentally different beliefs about love, which pushes them apart, but life goal deadlines for both of them push them back together.
Overall: The Prem scenes after they have sex for the first time are amazing.
This is a good book. Genuinely enjoyable. It also might have one of my favorite scenes ever when Prem was the one to absolutely freak out after they had sex because he was thinking it would just be hot sex but, in fact, it Meant Something. And then his friends come over unexpectedly and he has a little freak out with them where they’re like, “Dude, don’t be that guy. Leading a girl on is Not Cool.” And Prem’s all, “Okay but what if I keep her, like, forever though?”
I can’t do it justice unless I post an excerpt (a long one), which is kind of cheating you out of the full experience, so I won’t. But it was a delight.
Also, OMG Kareena’s sweater vests. I used to have a couple sweater vests that I thought were great – I mean, they were argyle, hello – and I cannot tell you how many people were all, “Really, Erin?” But even I would not have been wearing sweater vests to a bar or on a first date. Unless I had to go straight from work. But Kareena didn’t have that excuse. Either way, I’m loving Kareena’s style. You do you, Kareena.
Anyway, this is a Taming of the Shrew retelling that’s light on the taming and on the shrews. Kareena and Prem see each other in a restaurant and there’s an instant connection. What they’re both expecting to be an amazing hookup results in a missed connection that, due to their wildly different expectations of what their connection means, results in a public humiliation and loss of financing for Prem when Kareena reams him out during a livestream of his show.
I had mixed feelings about this because a public humiliation deserves a public apology, but Kareena doesn’t even apologize privately. And also Kareena makes a lot of assumptions about Prem’s intentions based on one night where they met, talked, and kissed until Prem disappeared. So Kareena calls Prem a desi fuckboy, an appellation sticks to him all book long. And at first all we know is that his fiancee died and he’s been mourning her for three years, but as time goes on, it’s clear he’s had some hookups in the intervening years, so is he a desi fuckboy? Have I been misled by the fact that this is a Romance Novel and Kareena went off on him based on a lot of her own expectations and not because he was making promises he had no intention of keeping? From where I’m sitting, Prem’s characterization is decidedly not what I’d categorize as fuckboy, but Kareena doesn’t really get past that, either, even as she’s falling in love with him.
Of course that’s where The Taming of the Shrew really feels present, so if you’re willing to dive into that story, you’re probably getting what you’re expecting. They fight (or bicker) a lot. Then, too, the push-pull of their relationship includes some moments when boundary pushing (or just plain stepping over) occurs, but given that it’s a Taming of the Shrew retelling, it’s a little difficult to get past that hurdle. Prem has fun pushing Kareena’s buttons in part because Kareena likes having her buttons pushed – it’s part of the electricity between them – but there’s also the “we only have four months” component that makes him pushy and, if we’re calling a spade a spade, it’s probably not going to be for everyone. Though to be fair to Kareena, she’s very clear about what’s at stake for her, so she should hold the line and get what she needs. There’s nothing wrong with that.
There’s also timeline stuff that requires some suspension of disbelief (not that they can’t fall in love in that time, but that people will believe the show they put on). They have 4 months until Kareena has the deadline of her dad putting their house on the market, and Prem has to put down money for his clinic if he’s going to get the location he wants. But Kareena wants to spend several months dating other people before she commits to Prem, and Prem needs to demonstrate commitment and regain trust with a stable relationship in the same timeframe? This mostly seemed to be an adhesion plot thrust that, once activated, was not really a stressor unless Kareena became sentimental about the house.
In terms of the romance, the challenge for Prem and Kareena is that they seem to be looking for the same thing, but they’re refusing to call it by the name the other one does. Kareena wants a love match like her parents, but she refuses to acknowledge that love might be present and manifest in ways other than her expected Dating Plan. Or, really, she ends up conflating Prem’s refusal to say the words with an inability to feel the emotion. And it’s totally fair that she doesn’t want to have anything to do with a man who espouses the belief that love is a made up descriptor of multiple unstable feelings that are bad for the health and not conducive to a long and happy life or marriage. On the other hand, Prem doesn’t seem to realize that the emotions that he blames for the health hazards of falling in love can be present at any point when a person is emotionally engaged with another person, regardless of the word that’s used. Or that the things he wants in a partnership are manifestations of a loving commitment to another person.
At its core, this isn’t really a Taming of the Shrew book, but a story about how all the stars can align – the chemistry, the romance, the caring, the passion, the love – but fundamental differences in life philosophy, outlook, and goals can still torpedo a relationship. This is one case where the emotionally constipated hero isn’t hung up on commitment, he’s exclusively hung up on verbalizing his feelings. I didn’t like everything that went on in this book, but I did like that.
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.
Looking for something similar?