Thursday, March 4, 2021

Contemporary Romance Review: Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
Published: March 2nd, 2021

Publisher: Forever

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Tropes: Forced proximity, fake engagement, friends-to-lovers

Heat rating: 🔥.5 (kissing + closed-door sex scenes)

# of pages: 384

My rating: 4 stars

Acquired this book: From the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration

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Buy: Amazon Canada || Amazon US || Indigo

Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall—with hopes that Reena will marry him.

But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.

As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine—secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved. 

After seeing Accidentally Engaged everywhere for months, I was excited to dive into the story of a bread-baking Indian-Canadian woman and her fake engagement to a hot, British-accented, ‘brown Captain America’. I was especially excited the book was set in nearby Toronto, a city I’ve spent countless hours in throughout my life. Accidentally Engaged was funny, touching, romantic, and dealt with a lot of relatable, real-life issues.

I liked Reena so much. She wasn’t happy with her life - she hated working in finance but wasn’t sure what else to do; her meddling family drove her crazy; she’d had a string of unsuccessful relationships; and she had struggled with her mental health in the past. The only thing she truly loved was cooking, especially bread making. I really appreciated the fact Reena was in her thirties and was still figuring things out; she felt lost and uncertain and like everyone around her had their life together, which I think a lot of people can relate to. When she began to form a connection with Nadim, she didn’t believe it could actually be that easy, so she tried to keep it light and friendly. Add in the fact her parents wanted them to be together, plus the fact she knew Nadim was keeping secrets, and she was just looking for a bit of fun with her hot neighbour. I enjoyed these two together so much - their banter was funny, they had great chemistry, and they balanced each other nicely.

I loved the cultural aspect of the book. As a white Canadian who grew up in an area with very little diversity, I love learning about other cultures, and I loved the Canadian ties in this book. I found Nadim’s history so interesting - he was originally from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, then he was sent to boarding school in England before working in London, and then he was eventually sent by his dad to Toronto to work for Reena’s dad. I loved that the pair shared a passion for food and connected over the food they grew up with. I also loved how Nadim, who had lived all over, connected home to the senses - a feeling, a scent, a taste - and he found a home in Reena.

I also really appreciated the complicated family relationships in this book and that nothing was resolved ‘neatly’. Reena’s whole family dynamic was wrapped in secrets, lies, jealousy, and resentments. Throughout the course of the book, the Manjis learned to open up and be more honest with each other - usually when forced rather than voluntarily - and instead of things being magically solved with a hug and a five-minute conversation, they learned to (mostly) accept and love each other. I liked how realistic it felt. It also helped that some of the interactions, especially when confessions were involved, were absolutely hilarious.

I loved the beginning of the book and found it compelling and fun, but the middle - and the main conflict - made me lose a bit of interest in the story. It was all so complicated and dramatic, and there were so many characters - people we never even met, only heard about - and I found it hard to keep track of all of them. The story began to drag for me and I went from loving the book to setting it aside for longer periods of time. Thankfully it picked up again and I ended up appreciating how things were resolved, and I thought the ending was really sweet and romantic.

Overall, I really enjoyed Accidentally Engaged and I know I’ll recommend it often to fellow romance lovers. 

Have you read Accidentally Engaged? Do you enjoy books about other cultures? Do you like to bake? Do you consider yourself a foodie?

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