The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal

Synopsis:

6408205Since becoming a widow at age twenty-seven, Anjali Kapadia has devoted herself to transforming her parents’ sari shop into a chic boutique, brimming with exquisite jewelry and clothing. Now, ten years later, it stands out like a proud maharani amid Edison’s bustling Little India. But when Anjali learns the shop is on the brink of bankruptcy, she feels her world unraveling…

To the rescue comes Anjali’s wealthy, dictatorial Uncle Jeevan and his business partner, Rishi Shah — a mysterious Londoner, complete with British accent, cool gray eyes, and skin so fair it makes it hard to believe he’s Indian. For Anjali, he stirs something a powerful attraction she hasn’t felt in a decade. And the feeling is mutual…

Love disappointed Anjali once before and she’s vowed to live without it — though Rishi is slowly melting her resolve and, as the shop regains its footing, gaining her trust. But when a secret from Rishi’s past is revealed, Anjali must turn to her family and her strong cultural upbringing to guide her in finding the truth…

Review:

This book started off well enough but soon got bogged down in the characters’ heads. There’s one scene that you 1) see, 2) see again as the heroine muses over what happened, 3) see again as the hero muses over what happened. I just wanted to get back to the story.

The characterization bothered me, as well. Rishi starts off very happy not being married, and has trouble seeing himself getting married. His live-in girlfriend is just his speed. But then he goes back to England on business, breaks up with her, and starts wooing Anjali hardcore…? What made him all “I want a wife and kid NAO”?

Likewise, Anjali is shown as someone who hasn’t completely gotten over her husband’s untimely death. Totally fair – it’s something she’ll never get over completely. But no one helps her get through the last bit of grief, or walks with her as she faces why, exactly, she has trouble moving on. The only argument she hears is, “It’s been years, it’s time.” That doesn’t really help.

Chekhov’s gun makes a literal appearance – shown once, mentioned afterwards once, never used. Le sigh. So while the family dynamics and depiction of Indian-American culture are nice the book left me with a big “enh”.

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