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REVIEW: The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal by Adite Banerjie

Dear Adite Banerjie:

You sent me your book ages ago, when it was released in India and then in the UK, but I wanted to wait until it was available in the US to minimize potential buyer frustration. This is the fourth M&B India release I’ve read, and while they each have their problems, they also have plenty to recommend them, not least of which is authenticity of setting and character.

indian tycoon banerjieThe Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal is a marriage of convenience story. This is a trope that is hard to pull off in a contemporary, but India’s enduring tradition of arranged marriages makes it more plausible. Krish is the son of a tycoon, and he is trying to avoid an arranged marriage that will bring together two family businesses. Maya is a landscape gardener whose father became an alcoholic after he lost his job and his wife (Maya’s mother) was killed. She holds Krish’s father responsible, although Krish doesn’t know any of this.

So Krish and Maya become engaged for very different reasons and without knowing anything about each other. It’s a well-trodden plot path, but I enjoyed their characterizations, and the bickering didn’t get out of hand. After the wedding the couple go to a country house in the foothills of the Himalayas and get to know each other a bit, and I really enjoyed this part. Krish and Maya both care about their work, not just for ambition’s sake but as fulfilling careers, and they seem well matched.

She finished the sketch and thrust it at him. He was impressed at how quickly and instinctively she had cre- ated a concept and a design for it. As he looked at the sketch, she chewed at the end of her pen. ‘You don’t like it?’

‘I love it. I’m amazed that you came up with this idea so quickly.’

The uncertain look in her eyes disappeared and her enthusiasm sparkled through. ‘This is just one possi- bility. Once I have seen the location, I will be able to give you a lot more choices. Why are you looking at me like that?’

‘I’m fascinated. You have given me more ideas in ten minutes than our architects have been able to come up with in three months. You’re not an architect by any chance, are you?’

‘Nope.’ She laughed. ‘I picked up the basics of gar- dening from Papa. Later, of course, at Evergreen, I read up on whatever books I could find on the subject. And a lot of them were on architecture. What I love to do is put things together…you know, like mix and match…’

‘You really do have a talent for this. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.’

Maya’s cheeks flushed at the praise. ‘Oh, it’s always easy to come up with ideas for new projects where you start right from scratch.’

‘You are being too modest. Hey, why don’t you go through those pictures while I make us some coffee?

An Indian male who offers to make coffee. I think I fell in love with Krish at that moment.

But then the story loses its footing a bit; the book is nowhere near the end, so a conflict has to appear to drive them apart, and it doesn’t feel organic. There’s a lot of plot in the second half of the book, characters suddenly do about-faces, and the reconciliation isn’t that well set up. I believed it, but then I thought these two should be together at the halfway point.

There are subtle Bollywood-related aspects to the novel: the storyline evokes a movie’s structure by opening with a dance number, sending the hero and heroine off into the mountains for a romantic interlude, and having a soap-opera-like family backstory for Maya. It’s not over the top by any means, but I would have enjoyed it even more without these allusions. It’s a taste issue, though; some readers will like picking up the signals and will appreciate the hat-tips.

The India-specific aspects of the book were excellent, as you might imagine given the author lives and works there. The depictions of Krish’s family life, the wedding, the workplaces, and the glimpses we get of other people and contexts all ring very true to me, and the blend of traditional and modern is well done. The shortcomings are more in the standard romance-novel aspects (this is something that I’ve observed in the other M&B India books as well). I can’t recommend this unreservedly, but if you’re looking for an unusual contemporary that is really well grounded in its context, I think you’ll enjoy it. I’m looking forward to reading Banerjie’s next book and seeing where she goes with it. Grade: B-

~ Sunita

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Sunita has been reading romances since she ran out of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse and Chalet School books and graduated to Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer. Other old favorites include Mary Burchell, Betty Neels, Elsie Lee, and Edith Layton. Among current writers, she reads and rereads Anne Stuart, Tamara Allen, Sarah Morgan, Marion Lennox, Josh Lanyon, and Susanna Kearsley. She blogs as VacuousMinx and tweets as @sunita_p.

13 Comments

  1. Carolyn Jewel
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 10:17:33

    Pre-Ordered! Thanks for the review. I really enjoy reading romances set places other than the US.

  2. Sunita
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 11:14:23

    @Carolyn Jewel: It comes out tomorrow, so not too long a wait!

    All the M&B India books have been really good at the context, and the secondary characters are often well done. You get these little tidbits that reinforce the authenticity without being stereotypes. For many of the authors (including Banerjie), this is their first published novel, so I expect the “romance” stuff to get better while retaining the existing strengths.

  3. Ros
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 11:38:40

    @Sunita: I was just going to comment to say exactly that – lots of the Indian-authored books are debut novels and they feel like that. But the only way to get past that is for them to keep going and people to keep reading. I’ve enjoyed all the ones I’ve read. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I’m putting it on my TBR list.

  4. Gloria
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 12:53:51

    Pre-ordered. I haven’t read any of the M&B India books and this sounds interesting.

  5. Sunita
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 13:27:19

    The M&B India line is definitely full of debut authors so far, so Ros’s point is on target: they won’t be perfect but they are enjoyable and we need to buy them and support them.

    This is, so far as I know, the first M&B India-origin book to be distributed in the US. I’m happy to be corrected on that, though.

  6. Sirius
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 13:55:10

    I am so interested in settings , but the conflict which does not feel organic would annoy me. Decisions, decisions. Thanks for the great review. :)

  7. SonomaLass
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 01:46:36

    Sold! Who knows when I’ll get around to reading it, but I want to show support for this line. Thanks for the review!

  8. Ruchi Vasudeva
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 05:48:16

    Hi Sunita,
    It’s great to know about the interest for Indian setting books. Since you mentioned, I’ll like to put in that my book Bollywood Fiancé for a Day is a simultaneous release with Adite’s book at Harlequin E. Here’s the link for anyone interested..hope you won’t mind if I put it here, Sunita? http://www.amazon.com/Ruchi-Vasudeva/e/B00JOWB95A
    Warm wishes,
    Ruchi.

  9. Sonali Dev
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 06:23:10

    “An Indian male who offers to make coffee. I think I fell in love with Krish at that moment.”
    @Sunita: As the wife, daughter, sister and friend of Indian males who do so much more around the house than just make coffee, this statement broke my heart a little. But if Indian girls are growing up feeling this way even today, I’m so glad we now have a platform to upend their expectations a little bit.

  10. Sunita
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 09:38:43

    @Ruchi Vasudeva: Oooh, I did not know that, and thank you for adding the information! I was hoping someone would correct me if I was wrong.

    @Sonali Dev: I also know Indian men who make coffee, do housework, iron, etc. When my parents got divorced my father learned to cook all kinds of things, and I was very fortunate to grow up in an extended family where girls were highly valued. But there are still plenty of families that favor boys, have the female family members wait on them, and treat them like little princes. And the “missing women” numbers are very high in some of the most economically advanced states. So we have quite a way to go still.

    I’d love to see romances that explore this conflict. Not so much the daughter-in-law stereotypes, although that can work in the right hands, but the tension between some Indian men’s unconscious expectations of being catered to and their attraction to strong, independent women.

  11. Sonali Dev
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 11:46:41

    @Sunita: Good heavens, I did not in any way mean to suggest that women are anywhere near where they should be in Indian culture. The sexual assaults, the pressure to marry, the even subtler pressure to be a paragon of virtue, the areas where quick and drastic change is required are endless and dire.
    I was just bemoaning the fact that even in a romance novel we are surprised to find a man who makes coffee.
    My heroes are feminists but maybe someday it will be fun to change one who isn’t into one who is.

  12. Sunita
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 12:00:21

    @Sonali Dev: I took the coffee line as a little hat-tip that told me “this one’s a keeper.”

    My heroes are feminists but maybe someday it will be fun to change one who isn’t into one who is.

    I love those kinds of transformations, so I would snap that up in a minute!

  13. Rubina
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 13:06:36

    Lovely review Sunita. But then all your reviews are. Adite Banerjie was the first Indian M&B I had read. That time I did not know Adite. I took this book up with a lot of preconceived notions. I was sure I would see Salman Khan and Madhuri (Sorry I am still stuck in the HAHK frame) dancing around the trees. I was ready for a few snide comments from my side, How can we see M&B in the Indian scenario? Can you imagine good old Ramdas in the TDH or Alpha hero mode. I was so wrong ! It proved to be more than I had expected. As the line of Indian Harlequin has started, each story is bringing unfolding a new dimension and the genres they are representing are worth a watch. None of them are shy of boldness and they are representing India as a modern,young India. Thank you once again for this wonderful review. :)

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