Author: Sonali Dev
Publication: William Morrow, trade paperback, originally published in 2019
Setting: Present-day CaliforniaDescription: Dr. Trisha Raje is a gifted neurosurgeon in San Franciso, whose arrogance masks the conviction she has disappointed her Indian-American family, despite her success. Her father has ambitions for Trisha’s brother Yash to become the next governor of California, and she knows her carelessness caused the one incident that could destroy his candidacy. When Trisha meets the talented chef, DJ Caine, hired to cater a campaign event, she learns he is not only the brother of her most challenging patient but also is connected to the one-time friend who nearly ruined her brother. She knows she should fire DJ to keep him away from her family but, despite her better judgment, she is attracted to him even as he resents her pride and seeming condescension.
My Impression: There is a lot of Jane Austen-inspired fiction out there and I have read quite a few but this was superior to most. Dev has used Pride and Prejudice as a framework for her story but she incorporates Indian food and family issues even more complicated than those of the Bennets and Darcys. Trisha was responsible for introducing her former college roommate, Julia Wickham, to her beloved brother, and Julia nearly destroyed him. All her success as a surgeon is meaningless to Trisha when she feels her family still blames her for a favor she did a friend with disastrous results. Now she is trying to save the life of a patient whose brother turns out to be a talented chef capable of making readers (and perhaps women) drool.
“This might baffle you, but despite not being a physician, I do have some pride. Although most certainly not enough to withstand the kind of beating you’re capable of dealing it. The kind of beating you’ve repeatedly dealt it from the first time we’ve met. You’re right, I value honesty, so I’ll tell you that I make it a practice not to find women who insult me at every opportunity attractive.Dev reverses traditional gender roles by having the hero be a cook (however skilled) and the heroine a high-powered surgeon but each character has insecurities that create vulnerability. Until Trisha understands how DJ has been judged by other people in the past, including his father’s family, and the resulting financial struggles that he and his sister experienced, she is not capable of establishing a relationship. Like Mr. Darcy, she needs some humility before she can learn to think of others and trust someone else with her secrets.
Color flooded her cheeks and traveled down her neck. Finally, she stepped away from him, too, and found the back of a chair to clutch. She looked entirely devastated. Had no one ever denied her anything? He hated the hurt in her eyes. But it was done now.
“How is telling you I’m attracted to you an insult?”
He pressed the back of his hand to his forehead. It made him feel like a drama queen in some sort of musical farce. Which this had to be. “Telling me how unworthy I am of your attraction, that’s the insulting part. And, no, that’s not all it is. Even if you hadn’t told me at every opportunity how inferior to you I am . . . how all I do is cook . . . every assumption you’ve made about me is insulting. . . .”
Source: Library. This had been on my TBR for a while so I decided to read it for Austen in August with Adam at Roof Beam Reader.