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REVIEW: Haveli by Zeenat Mahal


“Abandoned by her father, C. is brought up by her domineering, intractable grandmother, whom she privately refers to as ‘The Broad’. Raised in the closed environs of a haveli in Jalalabad, C. is rebellious, quick-witted and a self-proclaimed cynic.

So, when The Broad presents her with the ‘suitable’ Taimur as a possible husband, C. isn’t too happy with the arrangement, no matter how gorgeous ‘Alpha Male’ may be. As it happens, the feeling is mutual. Or is it?

And when C.’s long lost father enters the scene, things get really complicated…”

Dear Ms. Mahal,

I love your voice here! Our readers at DA have been very receptive to books set in South Asia and I was delighted when Indiereads got in touch with Jane and offered some of their books for review. Though I started out a little bit lost with all the terms – which I intend to look up – C’s smart aleck-y personality reeled me in from the beginning. Chandni is a smart, gorgeous heroine who has a little growing up to do and an Achilles heel in the form of her smarmy father. Though she doesn’t initially realize it, her tough as nails grandmother has raised C in her own image and I truly feel sorry for anyone who gets on their collective bad side.

haveli-200x300The women of this family are anything but subservient. If I had any notions of weak willed Pakistani women, this novella put paid to them. “The Broad” decrees and the family (usually) falls in line posthaste – including the men. The exception? Chandni of course who thinks she knows who she’s in love with and who is disconcerted when someone sees right through her efforts to snag him. The someone? Taimur or “Alpha Male” as C derisively calls him. He only oozes the most testosterone of any man C has ever met.

Their battles of wits and cutting sarcasm are hilarious to read. I love that Taimur is the one who “gets” all of C’s literary references – even when she’s using her extensive education at his expense. But he doesn’t take her witticisms lying down and give as good as he gets.

The conflict arc is well set up and seems realistic. Will C yield to her grandmother’s wishes and agree to marry Taimur? Is he truly as indifferent and cocksure as he appears? And how will C react when faced with the father she’s longed to hear say he loves and misses her? I wasn’t too sure of the last minute “will” twist but at least those who love C have a way to ensure it doesn’t trip things up. C’s desire to reconnect with her father at the expense of all else is initially maddening but on second thought makes sense given her long standing feelings of abandonment. Even “The Broad’s” insistence that C publicly agree to the match seems more that her grandmother wants to be sure that Chandni will truly be happy in it rather than getting her pound of flesh back or bolstering Taimur’s male ego.

Overall, I was delighted with my first foray into Indireads. The setting, language, and characters all seem authentic. A complete story was delivered in novella length and a HEA wrapped everything up. I look forward to seeing what else Indireads has to offer. B


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Julie M.
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 12:24:26

    This sounds interesting. Unfortunately I can’t find it anywhere online. Any suggestions?

  2. Justine
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 12:29:02

    It seems like the only venue to purchase Indireads books is directly from its website. According to the FAQ, available formats are PDF, ePub, and mobi, but I don’t see where I can select my choice of format. By buying once, do I automatically have access to all of the formats?

  3. Sabahat
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 13:05:44


    The book is available on the Indireads site for now. We will be releasing it on Amazon in October – it needs a little bit of proofing before we move to a wider platform. I’ll come back and post a link to it once it’s up there, but if you have a Paypal account, you can buy it from our site.

  4. Sabahat
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 13:07:51

    @Justine: Oh, and I forgot to add: when you buy the book, you get all three formats added to your account. You can download all three. Our books are not rights-managed as yet, so you can read them on as many devices as you want.

  5. cleo
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 13:21:22

    Sounds interesting – I’m a sucker for a well done enemy to lovers story. When is this set? Just noticed the 1970s tag.

  6. Jayne
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 14:40:48

    @cleo: There’s a line early in the book which says “It’s 1970…”

  7. pooks
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 19:32:01

    I just bought it. Used paypal, and after the purchase was able to go to the site and choose between mobi, epub and pdf. Pretty much the way Book View Cafe used to be before we changed store software.

  8. CD
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 19:42:26

    This sounds fantastic! I look forward to the link to amazon.

  9. SAO
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 00:07:35

    Yes, please post the Amazon link when it is ready. Nothing like a different setting and culture to make a familiar plot seem sparklingly new.

  10. Alison Robinson
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 03:14:51

    You sold me – I thought £3.70 for a novella was pretty steep but what the heck – at least it’s different from the PNR/YA stuff I’ve been reading lately.

    For those expressing concerns or waiting for it to appear on Amazon, I’m a Kindle user and it is pretty straightforward to order. As someone else said above, once you place the order the confirmation has links to the mobi, epub and pdf versions – I downloaded all three straight to my laptop. all told it probably took me less than 10 minutes to read the review, register on the website, buy the book, download it and write this comment.

  11. Sunita
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 08:41:47

    Thank you so much for reviewing this, Jayne! It is still sitting at the top of my TBR, staring at me reproachfully. From your review, it sounds right up my alley; I had a domineering, intractable grandmother who I loved very much but who scared the crap out of all of us. And we had some royal battles in my family over suitable and unsuitable grooms in this same era, so I’m very curious to see how it’s dealt with. From what you relate, even if it’s not the most perfect/accomplished novel ever, it sounds well worth reading.

  12. Phoebe
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 09:56:05

    Not on Goodreads? That’s the only way I can remember what books I want to read.

  13. Sabahat
    Dec 06, 2013 @ 03:18:07

    This is a lot later than I intended, and I apologize for the delay, but Haveli, along with a number of our books, is now available on Amazon.

    Our books are also available on Smashwords.

  14. Dear Author Reviews Haveli | Zeenat Mahal
    Dec 10, 2013 @ 06:10:25

    […] Read the rest of the review here. […]

  15. Zeenat Mahal
    Dec 14, 2013 @ 04:54:00

    Thank you so much for reviewing my novella. I’m absolutely thrilled that you liked it. All the very best.

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