Sugar, Spice, and Can’t Play Nice

Sourcebooks Casablanca. (Chai Masala Club, Bk. 2). May 2023. 416p. ISBN 9781492665434. pap. $16.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Success is on the horizon for Payal Mehra’s New York based fashion brand. However, her family’s lifestyle company back in London isn’t doing well. In fact, to save the business, they need her to agree to an arranged marriage that will facilitate a merger with another family-owned enterprise. She’ll be getting engaged to Ayaan, the fickle second son of the Malhotras who is a marketing expert and also happens to be Payal’s most recent one-night stand. After the initial outrage over the news, both she and Ayaan agree to the engagement temporarily for their own career agendas. Ten months should be enough time for each to get what they really want, but they soon discover that what they need is each other. Payal’s achievements as a South Asian fashion designer are empowering, and Ayaan’s admiration and support for her is wonderful. Both characters deal with complicated, strained family relationships that later have satisfying resolutions.
VERDICT A strikingly vibrant love story for modern dreamers and hopeless romantics. Those who’ve read Sharma’s Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words will be happy to see familiar characters return in this follow-up, but newcomers will also be able to enjoy it as a stand-alone.
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