For What It's Worth

For What It's Worth

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Review: Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors (The Rajes #1) by Sonali Dev

Award-winning author Sonali Dev launches a new series about the Rajes, an immigrant Indian family descended from royalty, who have built their lives in San Francisco...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.


Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

·       Never trust an outsider
·       Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations
·       And never, ever, defy your family
Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.


Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.


As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with...


A family trying to build home in a new land.


A man who has never felt at home anywhere.


And a choice to be made between the two. ~
Goodreads

Source: Borrowed

Review: Confession – I have not read P&P. I have seen many of the movies and read several re-tellings and as far as I can tell – Dev hit all the basics with this tale while making it her own.

This gender swapped version has Dr. Trisha Raje as an acclaimed neurosurgeon, descended from Indian royalty, at the top of her game, having just developed technology that can cut out a brain tumor without destroying the surrounding delicate tissue or killing the patient. . One of her patients is Emma, an artist with a brain tumor. Trisha is sure that she can operate and save Emma’s life but Emma will lose her sight. Something the artist can’t live with and chooses not to have the surgery.

DJ is Emma’s brother, and a chef, catering several events for the wealthy Raje family. He is in desperate need of money, having  given up his rising star chef life to move to be by Emma’s side and pay her mounting medical bills.

Trisha and DJ get off to a rough start when he overhears her referring to him as the hired help and looks down on his career as a chef. She LOVES his food but considers him “just a cook” as compared to her career of saving lives.

In great romance tradition, they meet again at the hospital, thanks to Emma, and realize they have to work together to help Emma realize that life is worth living even without her sight. (I understood where they were coming but I wish they'd respected her wishes a bit more)

I really liked this romance. Hate to love is one of my favorite tropes and these two dislike each other a whole lot. Trisha is not (quite) as snobby as she comes off as but is very pragmatic and to the point and doesn’t read social cues very well. She’s also rather defensive and protective of her heart after her large family keeps her on the outside after blaming her for something that happened to her brother years earlier.

She has no idea how condescending she sounds to DJ. She comes from a place of enormous privilege and sometimes callously puts DJ in situations that range from hurtful to downright dangerous. I do like how Dev challenged this though. Showing DJ standing up for himself and Trisha having that aha moment - and in turn does better going forward.

Then there's the Wickham character – portrayed here by Julia. Julia was involved with the Raje family years earlier and pops back up now just as Trisha’s brother Yash is about to run for California Governor.

Julia, a filmmaker, convinces Emma to talk on camera about her feelings about her cancer and the surgery, telling her she can make a lot of money with a GoFundMe to help with her medical bills.

Emma agrees knowing how badly DJ is struggling with finances and not wanting to leave him with enormous debt. Julia has ulterior motives and if that’s all she had to do with this story that would be great. It’s a really smart & relevant way to update that character.

But Dev also writes Julia as someone from Yash’s past who can hurt his political future and as someone who has affected Tasha’s life for over a decade. I’m going to put it under a spoiler tag without trying to be toooo spoilery about the actual plot or outcome (CW: rape, #MeToo):

SPOILER: Julia, underage at the time, used her friendship with Tasha to hack her computer and befriend Yash. Then drugged (the older) Yash and filmed herself raping him. Yes, I consider it rape. She then used the tape to blackmail him because he was in a relationship and she was underage. He had a bright future and the family covered it up and had her sign a NDA. They had held this against Tasha for YEARS which pissed me off to no end. 

But more importantly, the way the author explains away what happened or why Yash can’t talk about it or press charges was rage inducing to me. Tasha theorizes that Yash bringing it up publicly would hurt the #MeToo movement. Um….why? I can only imagine she means one of two things – Yash wants women to be heard and thinks a guy saying something about their experiences would be talking over them or something? Or – accusing a woman of rape would hurt women’s stories? I don’t know what she meant and I can’t get on board either way. #MeToo might predominantly impact woman but it’s about being believed as a sexual assault victim. If a victim is male then they deserve justice. 

This whole thing is framed much more as reputation/career destroyer and a betrayal rather than the rape that it was. Yash deserves justice and I kind of hope he gets his own book but don’t really trust that it will be handled correctly. END SPOILER

If I take out that subplot with Tasha’s brother and the outrageous way her family reacts to Tasha & just base this on Tasha and DJ – this book would get 4+ stars. I loved the food descriptions, how they fought yet opened each others worldview and how slow and sweet the romance was. I like how it stuck so closely to P&P yet updated it in a way that was so relevant.

Whether you can ignore that subplot or not though will be up to the individual reader I guess.

24 comments:

  1. As for the spoiler, yes it made me mad, though, honestly I felt that some would not have believed the right person

    I am also made at her family. Aholes!

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    1. I agree with you on that. And even see why they wouldn't want to say something. But the attitude that his own family had about it was what bothered me. They were jerks all around. More worried about winning.

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  2. You've definitely convinced me to read it, but I'm glad for the heads up about what to expect from her family and the Yash thing. Great review, Karen!

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    1. It's a minor issue - page wise - but irritated me. Not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the romance though.

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  3. I had no idea this was going to be a series, but I am intrigued. Like you, I have never read P&P, but it doesn't stop me from reading its retellings. I like the gender swap and food and royal family tie-in. I think I could like this, and hopefully I can overlook the subplot.

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    1. It says book #1 on Goodreads but no information on any future books so I don't know.

      The subplot (& the one conversation) that bothered me doesn't take up much space so I'm sure you could overlook it.

      I think you will love the big messy family aspect.

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  4. Ah hello?! This sounds like fun and my jam! I love P & P retellings, so sign me up!

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    1. It's a really good twist on it, I think. She says - having not read the original lol

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  5. I knew this was a P&P retelling but didn’t realize it was a gender swap. That’s a fun twist. And I love the foodie aspect. Always a bonus.

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  6. Not really my kind of book but I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.

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  7. Hmmm so I have not read P&P either, though unlike you I don't even know much about it if I am being honest. I was kind of interested on this (admittedly, mostly because of the cover 😂) and it does sound rather interesting. I am *hoping* that because it is a series, the spoiler topic will be handled more in the next book(s)? Like- maybe the outcome will be more palatable because I wholly agree with you that nothing about that is okay whatsoever. Maybe I'll wait and see how it ends up being handled before I pick this one up. Fabulous review!

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    1. I've seen a few of the movies so I know the basics lol

      I hope Yash gets a book and they don't just ignore this.

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  8. I haven't read Pride & Prejudice and this is the first I've heard of this one. I'm sorry not everything worked for you, but it still sounds like a good read!

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    1. I still think it's worth reading, The things that bothered me didn't take up much page space.

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  9. Any book with a chef, and talk of food, and I'm all in, and this scenario sounds like a really great read. Glad you enjoyed this one, and I'm adding this to my pile for sure. Hugs and Happy Sunday! RO

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  10. It sounds like this was a good read for you! It sounds like they have really changed a lot of elements from Pride and P, but for me that is a good thing because it makes it more unique and different. I love the sound of the food included, and the cultural focused storylines too. Great review x

    Olivia-S @ Olivia's Catastrophe

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  11. For some reason my iPad is not letting me highlight the spoiler, though I know what it is. (And at least Blogger is letting me comment yay!)

    But I agree about the subplot. I feel like that should have been spun off into its own book.

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    1. My blog hates you - or Jen's = because my other Jen friend can't ever do anything on here either.

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  12. I really like Pride and Prejudice but I sometimes struggle with modern retellings. It's easier to accept that in a regency novel the characters would be judgmental like Darcy - it's still annoying, but it's more "normal" at the time. It's somehow harder to accept a 21st century character looking down on someone because of their job or financial situation. Obviously they change, but yeah, still hard to like them.

    Either way, the spoiler section convinced me this isn't for me - that sounds awful, and such a terrible way of thinking of #MeToo. I'd go as far as to say that this is harmful for anyone who reads it (especially if they are not knowledgeable about #MeToo.) I'm so mad and I haven't even read the book, haha. Great review!!

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  13. You've never read P&P? I find that pretty impressive but I then think of all the classics I've managed to avoid reading but know the whole plot to and become much less surprised. Your review has me intrigued but I resisted the urge to read the spoiler because I actually really enjoy Sonali Dev's writing and want to read it and make up my mind after reading rather than before.

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