Release Date: May 26, 2020
Heat Level: Sensual
Imprint: William Morrow
Loss, fear, guilt, and romance — Dev’s latest will have you grabbing for the tissue box.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a Dev romance. Dev has a way of blending romance with women’s fiction with romance and telling a story you get lost in. In fact, I missed the first book in this series, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors. Now I’m going to have to back track for the first one.
There is a lot to unpack in this latest book. It really tells the love stories of three people and not two. First, we have Ashna Raje, a chef determined to save her deceased father’s failing restaurant, Curried Dreams. What’s the hang-up? She’s plagued with being unable to cook recipes that aren’t her father’s originals. This poses a big problem because even I know that adaptability is the success of any restaurant long term. Her love interest is World Cup soccer star Rico Silva. For him, Ashna is the one who got away, the one woman who got him and he’s never been able to replicate relationship success similar to what he had with Ashna.
Rico and Ashna are the perfect example of a couple with a lot of baggage and past to surmount. The great thing is that outside of their issues they really are perfect for each other. That love and caring shines through from the moment these two share a page. It’s one of the main things that kept me reading, the drive to see Ashna and Rico overcome the obstacles for a happily ever after.
But, I mentioned a third party in this story. That’s Ashna’s mom, Shobi. To preference this, without a ton of spoilers, Ashna has a lot of parental issues, including mommy ones. The Shobi part is what brings this rating to a four and not a five. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate Shobi’s role in Ashna’s story or the struggles they both needed to be overcome. It’s that Shobi gets about one third of the book from her point of view and is not even mentioned in the blurb. This book is sold as a romance, packaged as a romance, but it’s more like women’s fiction with romantic elements. That being said, Shobi’s story is essential to the book and helps give a more well-rounded view of how Ashna’s life played out and how it could have been different. Though in the end I wanted more with Ashna and Rico and felt that their romance was rushed to make room for Shobi’s portion.
As for conflict, pacing, setting – Dev builds a rich, diverse world with flavors, visuals, and real-world situations that display how far we’ve come as humans and how much farther we need to go. Reading this story, I found myself part of a world that I don’t experience enough in reality and discovered parts of me that want to do a little more exploring in my own neighborhood of restaurants and experiences I might be missing.
Overall, you can’t take a wrong turn with this story. Austen is also ever present and if you enjoyed Persuasion, then I have to say you will fall for Rico even more when he delivers his best Wentworth. For readers who love Kristin Higgins and Sarah Morgan.