For What It's Worth


Thursday, February 3, 2022

Review: The Wedding Setup by Sonali Dev

 

From USA Today bestselling author Sonali Dev comes a heartfelt short story about one woman’s journey of self-discovery and what it means to be happy.

Ayesha Shetty lost her brother seven years ago, the same time she lost everything else important to her: her dreams, her fierce independence, and the man she loved. Not wanting to see her mother hurt anymore, she put her wild self away and became the dutiful daughter her mother needed and took on her brother’s role in the family business.

Now her best friend’s big, fat Indian wedding is a chance to get away from her endless duties at the restaurant and maybe even have some fun (if she remembers how). But a setup arranged by her mother, with a doctor no less, is the last thing she needs. The fact that he checks all her mother’s boxes just makes everything better…and worse.

Then Emmitt Hughes shows up. Her brother’s best friend. The love she once chose over family duties and her responsibilities. The one she asked to leave, and who did. The one who knows the real Ayesha. Torn between a love from the past that could cost her the only person she has left and her sense of obligation to her mother, will Ayesha find the strength to stop thinking about what everyone else wants and finally put herself first? Or is the old Ayesha truly gone for good? ~ Goodreads

Source: Included with Kindle Unlimited subscription

๐Ÿ“šAyesha's spirited personality and dreams of being an author have been pushed aside since the death of her brother, Ajay. Instead, she works side by side with her Amma at their family restaurant - no longer engaging in their infamous fights - but living a life where she tries to be the perfect, dutiful Indian daughter to replace her brother and live out his dreams.

This doesn't leave time for dating or building a fmaily, something her mother begins to push aggressively. Ayesha doesn't have time for romance with all the work she's putting in but, again, just wants to keep her mother happy, and agrees to be set up with an OBGYN at her best friends wedding. 

She meets the good Dr (which leads to a lot of funny moments with her bff and Aunties) but is instantly thrown back in time when her ex, Emmitt Hughes, also shows up a the wedding. He's stunned at how broken she seems now. She's no longer the spirited woman he knew and he tries to help her find her way back. 

๐Ÿ’–Despite this being a super short novella, I totally bought in to Ayesha and Emmitt's love. You could just sense how much they loved and still longed for each other. This was a really sweet second chance romance with a little bit of steaminess.

๐Ÿ“šThe real heart of this story is Ayesha and her mother though. They had a fiery relationship when she was younger,  Ayesha was always fighting against rules and tradition. Now they have perfectly, normal civil conversations, yet Amma always seems angry with her or wanting more than Ayesha can give anyway.

Through her encounter with Emmitt, Ayesha sees that placating her mother might not even be what Amma wants from her and this leads them to having a frank discussion about all the things they've been ignoring since Ajay's death. 

๐Ÿ˜’Some of it is chalked up to miscommunication or misinterpreting intent but I felt like the mom was gaslighting Ayesha on more than one occasion. Even while meaning well, she said very mean things to Ayesha. Not intentionally and not with malicious intent, but due to the novella length, this was wrapped up fairly quickly and glossed over. I was still happy with it because relationships are hard and grief is even harder. The love and respect was still there. They are good people and on the path to something healthier.

Overall: If you're feeling a bit book slump-ish or looking for a quick read - the Wedding Setup should fit the bill. It's short but runs through all the emotions with a satisfying end with an adorable romance. Although I wouldn't have hated a quick epilogue ๐Ÿ˜œ 


22 comments:

  1. I have seen a lot of good things about this story. I may need to check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds like such a cute romance! I really like how Ayesha is trying to balance her duty to her family with carving out a path of her own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was well done considering the shorter length.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for your review. This actually sounds like it might be a good one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a sweet, quick read. Just what I was in the mood for.

      I've liked previous books by her as well.

      Delete
  4. Yea, I'm glad you enjoyed it. If you liked the family dynamics, I highly recommend you give her Rajas series a go. These are full-length and really getting into the personal relationships. They are very emotionally satisfying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've read Bollywood Affair and The Rajas book #1 (I had some problems with that one) and I like her writing style.

      Delete
  5. I love a quick novella that has a great second chance romance. This sounds great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! Sometimes that's all my brain can handle lol

      Delete
  6. Whilst not generally a fan of the short novel, there are some that shout out to me and this is one of them. Not that the blurb particularly screamed 'read me' but your 'notabels' certainly piqued my interest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a romance - which I know isn't your genre of choice - but I really loved the mother/daughter relationship more.

      Delete
  7. The mother/ daughter does seem to be the heart of this story in lots of ways- sounds like it was done really well! It's funny too how in real life families can still love each other but have those dynamics, the gaslighting, etc...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YEs, I think a lot of parents can be passive aggressive, thinking they're helping but the kid only hears their criticism and that they aren't good enough.

      Delete
  8. I also thought the ending was gaslighting a bit! It felt rushed and like it could go on. I loved the story and wished it had continued, but the whole reveal at the end just seemed really forced together. It was like a rom-com plot where "oh, you thought THIS happened, but it was ACTUALLY like this" kind of thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes!!! Amma was like...haha, silly girl I think you're brilliant and only wanted you back to your feisty self when all she did was (harshly) criticize her!

      I could mostly let it go because I otherwise liked the story and parental relationships can be very difficult, but it really rubbed me the wrong way.

      Delete
  9. Replies
    1. Sometimes they're perfect for what your brain can absorb at the moment lol

      Delete
  10. Thanks for sharing your review. ๐Ÿ™‚

    ReplyDelete
  11. I remember loving Sonali Dev's first few books and then she fell off my radar a little. I think I'll have to check this out as it sounds good and I always want more books on my KU subscription to justify the expense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've liked a few and didn't like one so I haven't read her in awhile but I'm glad I gave this one go.

      Delete