A contemporary romance between modern professionals in Canada.
At the start of Ahsan’s debut, millionaire Toronto philanthropist Adam Gibson is leading an empty existence. He gives generously to charities throughout the country, but his personal life consists of a string of meaningless sexual encounters with women whose names he seldom troubles to learn. He runs his prosperous company, Gibson Enterprises, with care and skill, aided by a faithful staff and watched over by his bodyguard, Ali bin Moosa. However, he doesn’t realize how much is missing from his life until he runs into Rania Ahmed, a 25-year-old creative designer for Greenway Advertising. (They literally collide, Hollywood-style.) Rania is shy and beautiful, and Adam is instantly smitten. “I feel like I had been living in the dark,” he tells her, “and you’re the only one who could bring me into the light.” He sets out on a single-minded campaign to woo her: He instructs his staff to learn everything about her, explicitly telling them that he doesn’t care about her privacy; he evicts business tenants in his building so he can move Greenway Advertising nearby to have Rania closer to him; and he wears down Rania’s resistance by taking her to the movies and the opera. Ahsan ably shifts between Rania’s and Adam’s points of view in alternating chapters as the two warily get to know each other. Adam wants to “claim her entirely,” and that’s not the only stalkerlike sentiment he makes; at another point, when Rania wonders if he’s the jealous type, he says, “Don’t ask me, and don’t provoke me, either.” Ahsan sprinkles both narrations with plenty of internal dialogue (such as Rania’s “What does he want from me?” and “Oh, I need some space”), and some of these ruminations include jarringly rough language. The author is fairly skilled at depicting the emotional roller coaster of a new relationship, and her handling of Rania’s deeply conflicted personality is sensitive and intriguing. However, when it comes to brusque, domineering Adam, readers may ask that age-old question: What does she see in him?
An intense, joltingly modern love story.