In this witty and heartfelt rom-com debut for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Emily Henry, and Tessa Bailey, an Indian-American woman signs herself and her boyfriend up for a matchmaking site to prove they’re a perfect match, only to be paired with her ex instead.
High school sweethearts Rita Chitniss and Milan Rao were the golden couple, until the day he broke her heart. Now, six years later, Rita has turned her passion for furniture restoration into a career and has an almost-perfect boyfriend, Neil. The last thing she needs is for Milan to re-enter her life, but that’s exactly what happens when her mother, an unfailing believer in second chances, sets them up. Milan is just as charming, cocky, and confident as he was back in school. Only this time, he actually needs her business expertise, not her heart, to flip a hard-to-sell house for his realty agency.
While Rita begrudgingly agrees to help, she’s not taking any risks. To prove she’s definitely over him, she signs herself and Neil up on MyShaadi.com, a Desi matchmaking site famous for its success stories and trustworthy enough to convince everyone that she and Neil are the new and improved couple. Instead, she’s shocked when MyShaadi’s perfect match for her isn’t Neil…it’s Milan. Ignoring the website and her mother is one thing, but ignoring Milan proves much more difficult, especially when she promises to help him renovate the beach house of her dreams. And as the two of them dive deeper into work—and their pasts—Rita begins to wonder if maybe her match wasn’t so wrong after all…
Publication: September 7th 2021 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Adult
My Favourite Quote: *subject to change*
Ignoring my inner Rita horror movie-screaming at me not to go inside, I take off at a brisk march, almost forgetting to look left and right. And then I’m at the door, pushing it open, and somehow, in what feels like all of two steps, I’m … there.
In the belly of the beast.
A big shoutout to Lonely Pages Book Tours and the publisher and author for including me in the blog tour and providing me with an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.
I’ll be splitting this into a two part review, speaking first about the major plot, characters and the aspects I liked/enjoyed and second about the parts I was dissatisfied about.
First, of course for me is always how well a book draws me in and keeps that interest and pace going throughout. Very very early into TSSU (maybe chapter two?) I was intrigued and super invested in finding out what was to happen with Rita. For me this is a gigantic plus when a book has its claws in me early and is able to maintain that initial feeling I experience as a reader throughout and TSSU delivered on that a hundred percent.
Then comes the writing itself. The writing was super easy to get lost into, peppered with a good balance of both humour and emotion.
My favourite part about a book with good characters is when as a reader you can easily sort and understand each character’s personality and that remains consistent throughout.
All the emotions were played out perfectly and pull at the strings of the reader’s heart and at no point did I feel disconnected from the protagonist’s emotions.
Now for part two. Well, while I enjoyed the characters and their emotions and connections, there are some unsatisfactory parts when it comes to the resolution of the major conflict in the book. It’s hard to explain this without giving away spoilers, but to be vague and clear at the same time: the misunderstandings that are a big part of the book first feel little unrealistic and second don’t feel convincingly sorted out possibly because it’s done towards the end and there’s not enough time.
There was a Harry Potter mention that I felt truly absolutely wasn’t needed.
Rita’s best friend, Rajvee is a non binary character. The author mentioning that Rajvee likes to go by both Raj and Rajvee and feels masculine sometimes and would like the pronouns she/he/they used for them made me extremely pleased. I was supremely happy to see Raj on page and I liked that the protagonist switched between using Raj and Rajvee. However, I would’ve loved to see Rita switch pronouns as well, because Rajvee is only referred to as ‘she’ throughout the book.
Outside of this, TSSU does well in bringing the chemistry and angst of two characters who’ve had a past but whose lives we only mostly see in the present.
About the Author
Lillie Vale is the young adult author of ALA’s 2020 Rainbow Books List selection Small Town Heartsand Beauty and the Besharam (forthcoming from Viking Children’s). She writes about girls fighting back, secret-keeping and between-places, the ways in which we’re haunted, food as a love language, and all the feels. Born in Mumbai, she grew up in Mississippi, Texas, and North Dakota,and now lives in an Indiana college town. Her debut adult romantic comedy, The Shaadi Set-Up, releases in 2021.
Connect with her