Love, Chai, and Other Four-Letter Words
- Author: Annika Sharma
- Genre: Romance
- Publication Date: October 5, 2021
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
- Series: Chai Masala Club #1
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.
CONTENT WARNING: mention of addiction, death of a parent, racial slur, racism, xenophobia, acid attack, classism
Kiran needs to fall in line. Instead, she falls in love.
Kiran was the good daughter. When her sister disobeyed her family’s plan and brought them shame, she was there to pick up the pieces. She vowed she wouldn’t make the same mistakes. She’d be twice the daughter her parents needed, to make up for the one they lost.
Nash never had a family. The parents who were supposed to raise him were completely absent. Now as a psychologist, he sees the same pattern happening to the kids he works with. So he turns away from love and family. After all, abandonment is in his genes, isn’t it?
If she follows the rules, Kiran will marry an Indian man. If he follows his fears, Nash will wind up alone. But what if they follow their hearts?
This was the cutest, sweetest romance that was combined with an unexpectedly fresh love letter to NYC. But it also addressed some very heavy issues that I wasn’t expecting to see, for some reason.
The first thing that I noticed was how beautiful it was to see NYC through the eyes of an immigrant. Neither character is from NYC, but both Kiran and Nash chose to move there, and basically live each day as if it is an adventure, exploring and sightseeing in their own city. I loved watching the two of them experience the various places in the city, and it makes me want to just take off and wander around the city. There honestly isn’t anyplace like it in the world.
Nash has some serious issues when it comes to family. After a less than ideal upbringing, he’s made a successful way for himself in the world. But the kind of start that he got makes it difficult to trust, open up, and engage in healthy relationships. Meeting Kiran wasn’t quite in the cards, but things change when they hit it off.
Kiran is straddling two very different worlds, with ideals that aren’t always compatible. She has a successful career, takes care of her parents in India, and is a dutiful daughter. But living in America and meeting Nash makes her think about taking a different path in life — a path determined by what she wants, rather than what her parents expect of her, which is an Indian man belonging to her own caste. Her support group of friends (the Chai Masala Club) was so important to her well-being, even if they didn’t even fully understand her struggle, since they were more Westernized having grown up in the US or Britain rather than in India like Kiran.
I think my favorite part of this was watching the relationship between Kiran and Nash develop. It wasn’t fast, and was more of a friends to lovers progression that occurred over months. Nash was easy to talk to, and understanding, while Kiran gave him the space and freedom to open up slowly. In addition, it was so clear that not everything was perfect. The clash between cultures was evident at times, but Kiran and Nash navigated it to the best of their abilities, and both were willing to learn about and from each other.
This book made me laugh quite a few times, and made me cry more than once as well. There were so many wonderful and joyful moments, but there were also some truly heartbreaking parts. It was written in such a way that was easy to empathize with the characters and also celebrated the richly beautiful Indian culture and traditions. I loved reading this book, and will be impatiently waiting for the rest of the CMC books to come out, because I absolutely need more. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a cup of chai calling my name.
Categories: Book Review