The Shaadi Set-Up by Lillie Vale

*Spoiler free*

Thank you so much to Putnam and Edelweiss for the e-ARC!

High school sweethearts Rita Chitniss and Milan Rao were the golden couple, until the day he broke her heart. Now, six years later, Rita has turned her passion for furniture restoration into a career and has an almost-perfect boyfriend, Neil. The last thing she needs is for Milan to re-enter her life, but that’s exactly what happens when her mother, an unfailing believer in second chances, sets them up. Milan is just as charming, cocky, and confident as he was back in school. Only this time, he actually needs her business expertise, not her heart, to flip a hard-to-sell house for his realty agency.While Rita begrudgingly agrees to help, she’s not taking any risks. To prove she’s definitely over him, she signs herself and Neil up on MyShaadi.com, a Desi matchmaking site famous for its success stories and trustworthy enough to convince everyone that she and Neil are the new and improved couple. Instead, she’s shocked when MyShaadi’s perfect match for her isn’t Neil…it’s Milan. Ignoring the website and her mother is one thing, but ignoring Milan proves much more difficult, especially when she promises to help him renovate the beach house of her dreams. And as the two of them dive deeper into work—and their pasts—Rita begins to wonder if maybe her match wasn’t so wrong after all….

After seeing friends rave about Vale’s YA debut, I knew I was going to want to give her romance debut a try. I’m always a bit wary of second-chance romances, simply because I need to be in the right mood for the angst. But this one sounded like it was going to be amazing, with a match that is not expected and forced proximity. Plus, there are even dogs on the cover. I was eager to see what this book was going to hold!

I feel sort of, neutral towards this book. I’m not sure if it was my mood that made me not love this one, or if I simply did not love this one. Either way, I do just sort of feel neutral towards it. That makes it hard to review, because I just sort of liked it. My feelings seem very simplistic.

One big highlight for me was the dogs. They were ADORABLE. They had such distinct personalities, and were downright hilarious sometimes. They are very deserving of their spot on the cover.

Overall, I really enjoyed Rita’s character. She was driven, and is honestly just incredibly sweet. Milan was also a character that I enjoyed, as well as Raj and Luke!

Though, despite this, I felt like the overarching emotional plotline was stilted. It moved along very, very slowly until it rushed together at the end. I think this prevented me from fully connecting with Rita, the rest of the characters, and the plot in general. Personally, I feel like there was a lot of time setting up what the emotional development was going to be, and then when it happened, it just fell a bit flat for me. I wanted more out of it. Though, this could just be because I didn’t personally connect with it. And that’s alright! Because other people will, and I hope they find this book and fall in love with it.

That said, I think this was what prevented me from truly falling in love with the book. I just didn’t become fully invested, and I felt like I was waiting for something to happen for the majority of it. I can see what the author was going for, so that makes me think that this is more of a personal thing than anything else.

Alright, this is a weird thing to mention, but I’m going to mention it anyway haha. The sex scenes through me off a bit. Leading up to them, the writing was very explicit, not shying away from arousal and sex. But, when the actual sex scene came around, it was fade to black. There is nothing wrong with fade to black, but it just seemed a bit weird when everything before it made it seem like the book would take the full on sex scene approach.

So, I did not fall head over heels for this book, but I didn’t full on hate it either. I think it truly comes down to the fact that it just wasn’t for me personally. I feel neutral towards it, but I hope it finds the people who are going to love it!

The Shaadi Set-Up comes out September 7, 2021! You can add it on Goodreads and pre-order a copy in the meantime!

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