Against All Odds: An enemies to lovers romance by Aarti V Raman

51W9WqyX0CL.jpgAgainst All Odds: An enemies to lovers romance by Aarti V Raman is the fifth story the Geeks of Caltech Series.

The blurb:

Bharat Shrinivasan, former bad boy of Indian tech is back. To prove himself, to give full rein to the ruthless ambition that has driven him for the last six years.

He is the proud creator of Caliban – an AI software that will redefine the way businesses run.

He arrives at Sydney’s Consumer Convention, looking for an investor who believes in the vision that is Caliban.

Not for love…and certainly not with the woman whose life he’s already destroyed.

Sophia Roy has spent the last six years working on cruise ships so she can send all her savings home. It’s her pathetic attempt to help her brother, Nakul, hold the sinking family business together.

Because, her family has been devastated by the ego and actions of one man – Bharat Shrinivasan.

She has no time for love… Especially with the enemy.

But when Bharat shows up at her casino table, all the rules go out the window. And she starts to think that maybe…falling for the enemy against all odds is not the worst thing in the world.

AGAINST ALL ODDS is an enemies to lovers redemption romance in the Geeks of Caltech series. A unique band of friends bonded by loyalty, brotherhood, and pain, the Geeks of Caltech are to die for and their women all they wish to live for!

The story:

Bharat Shankar Shrinivasan, an orphan from Velacherry, Chennai, a product of IIT, Kharagpur, was only 24 when he was handed 400 million and told to go ad make every app on the market accountable to JoyXS. And three years later, he was written off by the seven member board of his company, JoyXS, his vision created from his code and Indian media. He is removed from the post of CEO and his 54% stake is bought for 2 million rupees. He still begs for a job but is made to sign an agreement that he would not entertain working for the competitors, clients or anyone remotely associated with JoyXS. All this because of his reckless and irrational action for six months- drinking binges, wild parties, questionable women, getting arrested for drug possession. He feels let down, even by Rajeev Kulashreshtha, the man he respected and a replacement father figure. And his friend Shiv tells him to come to Pasadena, US.

Now, six years later, Bharat is mended following rehab and staying as a recluse working on Caliban, a new software.  He is in supreme control of himself, the situation, interested in the job, distractions bore him and he is not going to jeopardize one precious minute of his second chance. And now, he has new investors.

Bharat is in Sydney with his investors to pitch Caliban when he meets Sophia Roy on a cruise ship where she works as a hostess. She is working to send money home to her brother, Nakul and their father, for his treatment. Sophia has had a nomadic childhood with dad taking her and Nakul wherever he felt like till she reached second standard and required a firmer discipline.

Nakul wants her to take a revenge on Bharat and Bharat does not know that he has done irreparable damage to her and her family.

What happens when the past comes up?

My take:

This is the fifth book of the Geeks of Caltech series and I have read all of them. The characters are realistic and have been developed well. Bharat has had a guest appearance in some of the previous books so was a familiar person. Sophia’s back story has been developed well and she felt familiar. The story has been written in a simple language and is unputdownable.

Is Nakul’s story next?

Lost and found : an almost love story by Rubina Kochar

51H15SN+nkL.jpgLost and found : an almost love story is Rubina Kochar’s first book. This book is the story of a girl from Banaras, Shefali Tiwari.

The blurb:

Small town girl, Shefali Tiwari had all the ingredients for success in the corporate world – intelligence, talent, attitude and good looks. Except one. Patience. She wanted to get there NOW!

So she stashed her moral values in a drawer and climbed the corporate ladder leaps and bounds. Life was a dream come true until one eventful night. Now, she’s hated by all and doomed to a social and professional death.

But, in the no-moon night of her life, there is a twinkling star, a secret admirer.

Who is this guy?

Why does he stand by her?

Will his faith help her discover a life free from past, a life full of happiness and most importantly, love?

The story:

Shefali Tiwari, an MBA from Banaras, had come to Gurgaon a few years ago determined to forge her own path. Chai is her happy place and Masala chai her drug, which takes her back to her childhood. Raised by her environmentalist parents in the era where disposables were the new fad and the war against plastic was new, she takes her cup along when she goes out and asks the server to use it. This is her first job and she is happy climbing the ladder of success more than one rung at a time and cannot be happier. Her beauty is her pride, her confidence and her weapon. She has been promoted to Project Manager recently while her colleagues are only Assistant Analysts. And with that she has reached an exclusive club. But not for long.

Celebrating her promotion with her colleagues, she gets drunk and starts talking about everyone, talking about their deepest secrets, without realizing that someone is recording it and posting it on social media. And the next day, when her hangover is over, she does not know where to go. And to make matters worse, her boss, one of those about whom she has spoken in her drunken state, gives her a next to impossible project- some sort of merger and acquisition deal between two tech giants who were once bitter competitors with an impossible team- her best friend turned enemy, Ritu; Ritu’s boyfriend, Madhav; Sachin, the one who made the video; Rishi, who liked her once and Disha, the girl in dungarees.

But every cloud has a silver lining. Shefali has Anush, an intern, who ha been posted under her and who is her only friend in office., She also has an unknown stalker, someone who writes notes to her, sends her messages, but does not come forward. Shefali pins the notes on a board in the living room where she can see them all the time. They are written on premium stationery in beautiful and confident strokes and are perfect messages. They help her persist, keep her sane, and she does not know who is sending them. But still she finds herself falling in love with him.

My take:

This book is not a typical love story. It is a story of someone who comes back from being at the lowest in her life. This story has friendship, romance, family relationships, office politics and romance. The characters are realistic and well developed. The secondary characters are also given their due importance. And the story is such that it could happen to anyone in this cold cut-throat world. The language is simple and the suspense makes the book unputdownable. The author has even discussed social issues and the negative aspect of social media in this book.

I loved this message in the book, “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and never give up”.

An excellent debut. I am looking forward to the next book by her.

 

It was always you by Andaleeb Wajid

41NATTeXBTL.jpgAndaleeb Wajid’s latest book It was always you is a standalone love story. Set in Bangalore, this is the story of Naima Ali and Uzair Ahmed.

The blurb:

Love can strike anytime, anywhere. It never comes with a warning.

Pretty, self-absorbed, self-proclaimed princess of her father’s world, Naima Ali is having the wedding of her dreams. A destination wedding, a handsome successful fiancé, a trousseau that any girl would kill to have and a father who indulgently lets her have her way – what more could a girl want? Turns out, Naima Ali’s heart wants what she cannot have.

Uzair Ahmed.

From childhood friend to her father’s assistant, Uzair has seen several ups and downs in his life. He’s been working hard for Naima’s father, making life for everyone easy and even organising the dream wedding in Maldives. All the while, quietly ignoring the way his heart skips a beat whenever he sees Naima. She’s the bride. She’s getting married in a month. And he’s organising it. He can’t possibly be in love with her.

Tell that to his heart.

The story:

Naima Ali, 24, is young, reckless and beautiful, but she is also foolish, childish and arrogant. She is engaged to Khalil, an arranged match proposed by a common friend, the CEO of a tech start up. She wants a dream wedding and her father is leaving no stone unturned to make her happy, much to the disappointment of her mother and her older brother, Nayaz.

Uzair Ahmed, 27, has been her friend since they were kids when his family used to visit from Mysore. Both their fathers were friends. And then his father made some risky investments and they lost their house and their business. Uzair and his older brother tried to manage and then Uzair left Mysore and came to Bangalore. Four years ago, Naima’s father hired him as his Personal Assistant, but still treated him as his friend’s son. Uzair sends his salary home to support his parents and also saves some money because he wants to set up his own business someday.

Naima was in third year of college when Uzair joined her father and he has seen her through breakups and boyfriends, crying sessions and also chaperoned her when she went out with Khalil. And now, he is in-charge of her wedding arrangements, but he finds himself in love with her………..

My take:

The cover of the book is beautiful, an instant pick me up and the story is beautiful. The characters have been beautifully etched and are believable. The language is simple and the book has been narrated in first person when it comes to Naima and in third person, when it comes to other characters. The scenes have been described in such a way that I could actually visualise a lot of them. The twists and turns keep the suspense alive and once I started the book, I just could not keep it down.

The story has friendship which has been presented in the form of Naima and her friends, also between Naima and Uzair; sibling love between Uzair and his brother; Naima’s brother’s hatred for her; Uzair’s loyalty for Naima’s family; and Naima’s father affection for her. There is also family drama and a story of second chances (will there be a story on this…).

I loved the book and would really recommend it to all lovers of romance with a warning that the book is definitely unputdownable.

A promise is a promise by Ruchi Singh

41Vm7moWQKL.jpgA promise is a promise by Ruchi Singh is short story from the Hearts and Hots story collection.

The blurb:

A romantic short story from ‘Hearts & Hots’ story collection.

Rashi’s promise was as sacred and binding as any oath in the world. Something she could never disclose to anyone. A product of Indian society’s prejudices and cruelty, she had sworn not to get attached to any man, until she meets Samar. He chips off all the barriers showing her that the future can be vibrant and colorful, only if she was willing. But was she?

Note: This is a standalone story from the previously published ‘Hearts & Hots’ collection.

The story:

Rashi Mehra lives in India with her mother and two younger sisters. She works in a software company and is in the US in connection with some project. She meets Samar, her project manager, and they fall in love. Samar proposes marriage to her but Rashi refuses…

My take:

Written in first person from Rashi’s point of view, this book is a short story about how a girl wants to leave the love of her life, her happiness for the sake of the promise she made. The characters are well described. The language is simple and the story is fast paced.

 

Guarded by Mr Handsome: A Bodyguard romance by Dee James

41io0IAFJTL._SY346_.jpgGuarded by Mr Handsome: A Bodyguard romance by Dee James is her latest book and the second one of the Love @ Second Sight Series. Though there is reference to characters of the first book, this book can also be read as a standalone.

The blurb:

Natasha Rai was a wealthy heiress running a successful business. With beauty, brains, money, and a loving family, she seemingly had it all. All but love! Just when she’d given up on men, on love, Arjun Warrier, the ex-army man who broke her heart, re-entered her life. One look at him, and her walls threatened to crumble. Arjun vowed to protect her from danger, but who will save her heart from him?

Arjun Warrier remembered Natasha as a beautiful teenager. He was unprepared for the stunning and confident entrepreneur who was facing threats from an unknown stalker. As the stalker raised the stakes, Arjun knew he had to keep close to Natasha. But, would he be able to keep his hands off her? Last time he’d walked away, it had almost destroyed them. Can he walk away unscathed this time around?

The story:

Natasha Rai was a little girl when she lost her mother and her father, Prithvi Rai, brought  her up along with her elder brother, Rahul, single handed with the help from their housekeeper. She moved to Mumbai and then to Bangalore to build a career in fashion without being labelled as her father’s daughter and has made a name for herself in the fashion world in Bangalore. Tanya Kumar is her best friend.

Arjun Warrier, 33, was found abandoned in a warehouse as a baby and was brought up by a kind old man till he was seventeen. He met Rahul Rai in high school and the two are best friends. His other best friends are Armaan Malik and Neil Grover. Having joined NDA after school and then the Indian Army, Arjun was forced to retire as a Colonel due to an injury. Now he has set up a security firm with his friend from the Army, Anupam, and takes up projects that he deems right.

One day, Natasha receives a call from her brother saying that their father has been attacked and that she has to come back to Delhi immediately for security reasons. When she wants to go back, Rahul tells her that she can go back only if she takes a personal bodyguard with her. And Rahul tells her that the only person whom he can trust is Arjun, his best friend and her past.

She was 14 when she first met him. She was 17 when she proposed to him and he rejected her saying that she was his best friend’s and nothing else, mentally praying that she forgives him. And now at 25,  she has to tolerate him staying with her 24X7 because her family wants her safe. How will Natasha manage?

My take:

There is romance and there is suspense. There are bodyguards and there are detectives. There is friendship and there is love.

The story has been well woven with the previous book. The best part is that the two stories, the first and second book, are interwoven and move in parallel.

The characters have been beautifully etched and are realistic. The feelings of both the characters has been described. The relationship between the characters has been described well. The easy camaraderie between the girls and that between the men has been reflected beautifully. The brother sister relationship between Natasha and Rohit has been depicted well.

The language is simple and the story is fast paced. What really makes it an unputdownable page turner is the suspense.

I loved the book and am looking forward to the next book in the series.

 

Homecoming by Rubina Ramesh

A1VLTfBrxQL._AC_UL436_I received Rubina Ramesh’s book Homecoming as a review copy from the author and am thankful to her for the same. This book is a story of second chances.

The blurb:

She….
Is Sanaya. Rich and spoilt. A loner. Living in a self-created paradise where she thinks her world is perfect. Where family betrayals are swept under the carpet. In her imperfect life, she still searches for happiness. Then, at the age of seventeen, when she meets the love of her life, she feels that everything would be fine. But Fate has another plan for her. Walking away from your true love is not easy. But what makes it worse is the knowledge that he does not remember her…

He…
Is Krish. A self-made man who knows only one path – that of success. Extremely loyal to those he loves, he is torn between the love for his mother and the love of his life. But then fate plays a role and he is given a clean slate to start all over again. What will he choose… success or love?

The Story…

When two souls are given a second chance they must walk on the path of denial and pain. Of memories that haunt them and heartbreaks that shape their life.

Meet Sanaya and Krish in Homecoming. Who says love is without complications? Especially when the one you love so deeply suddenly becomes a part of your family in a way you had not even dreamt of.

The story:

Sanaya Verma was seventeen when she left her home in Wayanad, about five hours from Calicut, Kerala and went off to the US twelve years ago cutting off ties with her family. And she has kept her past as far away from herself as possible. The reason was that her father had decided to marry their housekeeper Tina, who was like a mother to both Sanaya and her sister, Minx, ever since they were kids from before their mother left them. Why? Because she was also the mother of her love, nineteen year old Krish Menon.

Now, twelve years later, Sanaya works as a senior psychiatrist at Sunshine Behavioural Healthcare in Houston, Texas. She receives a call from India, from her father asking her to come to India as Tina needs her. And she books a ticket to India for the woman who was responsible for making her leave her home in the first place. She does not know whether she woule be welcome in her own house.

And to make matters worse, Krish, the person she has spent twelve years of her life hating, comes home and to her surprise, does not remember anything, pretends that they are strangers and addresses her as ‘the runaway daughter’.

My take:

A sweet story of a girl coming home to her family. The plot is simple and the story flows effortlessly. The characters are realistic and relatable. Many emotions have been described in the book. I loved the story and enjoyed it immensely and finished it in one sitting.

Will there be a sequel, Minx’s story?

Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of the book from the author in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

 

Our Song by Milan Vohra

41+Xaj-EFeL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgOur Song is Milan Vohra’s latest book and is the story of Ragini Sharma, a music composer and Andrew Arya, her boss, set in Bangalore, Kasauli and Shimla.

The blurb:

‘People will leave. Even the good ones do. The music will stay.’ This is what life has taught Ragini. A struggling music composer who left the world of Hindustani classical music in Delhi to do her own kind of music in Bangalore, Ragini is impulsive, emotional and often a little lost. The typical creative type – or so Andrew thinks. The head honcho at a mega Pharma company, Andrew is half-British, half-Indian and a full-on ‘propah’ pain. Even if he’s gorgeous. The typical corporate type – or so Ragini thinks. He needs her to compose a song for the company’s silver jubilee. She needs him (well, just his project really) to be able to keep doing her music. They can definitely do without the sparks they set off in each other. Or the highs and lows and all the conflicting notes that being together seems to bring. Because love is off the table for him. And music is her only love. Can two stubborn people from such different worlds ever find harmony together?

The story:

Ragini Sharma was barely fifteen when she lost her father and then her mother remarried. Her step-father is renowned in the Hindustani classical music in Delhi and when she tried mixing the music, she was thrown out from her step-father’s home. Now she lives with her friend Annie in Bangalore and is a struggling music composer.  Her airlines jingle was well appreciated and now she needs the job for composing the music for the silver jubilee of a pharmaceutical company, Livin’On Phrmaceuticals.

Andrew Arya, half Indian, half British, son of Anand Arya, the founder is the acting chairman of Livin’On. He came to Bangalore from London, where he had a corporate role in three companies, at the request of Naidu, to tackle the crisis for three years when he heard that his father had stopped looking into the business.

Andrew is everything Ragini isn’t, but then opposites attract.

Andrew is pish-posh, punctuality driven and calendar obsessed. He does not believe in love because he believes that love only destroys lives. He feels that love causes pain and emptiness and creates a wall around himself.

Ragini is a musician, who writes notes on tissue papers, finds music in things around her, is always some kind of musical instrument or another and interferes where she is not required to. She believes in love.

And then his company has hired Ragini for the music and Ragini and Andrew are forced to spend time with each other. What happens next?

My take:

The cover is beautiful.

Beautiful, realistic characters who are actually flawed like you and me. The author has created them with their back stories in such a way that as a reader, I could understand how the two of them were behaving as they were. Their insecurities, their strengths were all laid bare for the reader to read and understand. The feelings of the characters have been described in detail. Their conversations and their confessions were the highpoint of the book for me. I would have enjoyed getting more details of the secondary characters like Mr Arya and Annie.

She has described the sterile corporate offices so vividly and also the scenes in Shimla and Kasauli. The author’s knowledge of music is visible in the story as well as in the musical acknowledgement at the end of the book.

The language is simple and the story has been narrated beautifully. The book is well written and moves at a fast pace in the first half of the book and then slows down to a comfortable pace. The twists and turns kept me turning pages after pages because I really wanted to know how the two of them would come together.

The story has friendship, love, parental love, and even sadness. There is humour, though sometimes subtle and sometimes more visible.

There are certain lines in the book that will stay with me for a long, long time like “I lost my ‘why’ for living. Once you know why you live, all the “hows” just fall into place”.

I loved the book and am looking forward to Annie’s story next.

Overall, a beautifully written book.