A workaholic, socially inept Indian-American brain surgeon is caught off guard by her attraction to a Rwandan/Anglo-Indian chef in this rewrite of Pride and Prejudice.
Trisha Raje is a princess whose family prides itself on its aristocratic Indian roots as well as its integration into American life. The Rajes are preparing for their scion’s gubernatorial campaign in the Bay Area when Trisha rejoins them after a period of estrangement (caused by her former college roommate). She and chef Darcy "DJ" Caine meet at a political event and sparks fly, but for all the wrong reasons. While the two try to smooth things over, subsequent encounters exacerbate their hostility and class divide. Yet, as any Austen fan knows, the fallout of their pride and biases will eventually be resolved. Dev (A Distant Heart, 2017, etc.) credibly reworks a beloved novel to include diverse representation, and her use of dual points of view reveals the internal lives of both protagonists. DJ’s love for Indian cooking is also an interesting flip of a more traditional script. But Dev creates equivalents to Regency England partly through a discomfiting choice to valorize Trisha’s royal Indian genes—not only does she descend from ancestors who fought the medieval Islamic Mughal rulers and the British Empire and joined the Indian freedom struggle, her relatives are good royals who practice noblesse oblige (including on visits to Africa) and nurture a household (including a member who is differently abled) and have an upper-class sense of art and music. This complimentary take on the one percent is common in the genre, but what is problematic here is that romanticizing a royal identity normalizes the caste hierarchy still practiced (albeit illegally) in South Asian society, including in the contemporary diaspora. So while this is undoubtedly a charming attempt to weave in Indian history and Maharashtrian culture (and address #MeToo), the novel is limited to a lovely but upper-class Hindu family’s tribulations and triumphs, reiterating a tendency among Indian cultural producers to limit happily-ever-afters to this group.
The first in a multicultural #OwnVoices romance series, with an enemies-to-lovers central plot and distinctive supporting characters whose histories and dramas play out alongside the love story.