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by Sabina Khan

Pub Date: July 18th, 2023
ISBN: 9781338749335
Publisher: Scholastic

Mehar Rabbani reluctantly travels from Newton, Kansas, to Agra, India, over winter break for her father’s wedding, hoping to mend their relationship and meet his new family.

Mehar’s famous polo player father’s luxurious royal lifestyle, his impending wedding to a socialite, and the constant online documentation by his fiancee’s social media influencer daughter ensure many soirees and paparazzi always hot on their trail. Though reconnecting with her grandmother and aunts brings back fond childhood memories, Mehar is often baffled by royal etiquette. Sufiya, her grandmother’s young assistant, helps her find her bearings, which leads to a growing friendship that blooms into a romance. Mehar uncovers secrets behind the unravelling of her parents’ marriage and continues to harbor nagging suspicions about her future stepmother’s and stepsister’s motivations. Convinced they have less than noble intentions for marrying into her father’s family, she plans to stop the wedding. The story explores the secret Sapphic romance as well as concepts such as personal sacrifice and societal pressures to bow to tradition over pursuing self-realization and love. Richly described palatial surroundings, lavish feasts, and bedazzling clothes and jewelry embellish the plot. However, the lightly developed characters end up in contrived situations, and the revelations of family skeletons and internal relationship dynamics don’t have the intended tensions or satisfying resolutions.

Leans on glamour and the countdown to an opulent wedding to balance out a thin plot.

(Fiction. 12-18)