REVIEW: The Business Between Them (Once Upon a Wedding Book 4) by Mona Shroff
She’s got his attention. Now she wants his company.
The balance sheet of Reena Pandya’s life is currently in the red. One bad business decision has cost her her relationship, and now she stands to lose the family business to her ex, Akash Gupta. Tough but not ruthless, Akash is giving Reena a chance to earn back the business—and possibly his heart. Reena knows she can turn a profit. But will she succeed at matters of the heart?
Dear Ms. Shroff,
I was looking forward to this next installment in the Once Upon a Wedding series. Let me say again that people can just jump in here rather than starting with book one as the relationships that and people who need to be explained will be but there’s a tangled group to catch up on at this point.
Reena Pandya loves being a hotelier. No, I mean she loves it. Her parents worked their fingers to the bone building up their boutique hotel in Baltimore. It is their life’s work and Reena can’t wait to make her mark and take it to the next level. Except that Lulu’s has been bleeding money and unless they can get an infusion of cash pronto, they will miss making the next payment to the bank and the bank will foreclose. In order to prevent this, they need the money and attention that a major influencer’s wedding will bring them and if Reena has to hide from the bride the fact that her sleezo fiance is cheating on her, Reena will do that. After all her mother would do that, too. When everything is revealed (all this took place in the book before this “No Rings Attached”) the bride is furious, the wedding is off, and Reena’s secret relationship with the Akash, bride’s brother, ends acrimoniously. I’m on his side in this.
Now, Akash Gupta is poised to swoop in and take over Lulu’s. Buying 51% of the hotel annoys Reena who has longed to run the place herself and Reena’s mother who blames Reena (yes, really) for not doing enough to keep the wolf from the door. Brown girls (term used in book) have to work twice as hard for half the acknowledgement so Reena’s mother has always PUSHED Reena to be the best. Frankly I found Reena’s mother to be a cold bitch and no, I’m not changing my opinion. Something happens later that Reena’s mom had let fester rather than fixing it then and let’s just say “Penny wise, pound foolish.” The woman has no leg to stand on when it comes to fiscally running a hotel.
Reena is crushed that she won’t get her dream of running Lulu’s but to have Akash be the one who steps in and takes over is salt in the wound. Lovers to enemies accomplished. Akash has his own issues with his parent’s divorce when he was eight. Not knowing the full story, and never asking for it either, he’s chosen a side and stuck with it for decades thus cutting himself loose from his mother and his stepsister. He has plans for Lulu’s but prickly, hard working Reena won’t make things easy for him. Reena is all business focused while Akash has a childhood hurt now etched into stone. Can they work out what is keeping them apart and also fix relationships with friends and the business?
There are things in each MC’s life that are keeping them back. Reena is … not a people person. The hotel is her main focus and she initially views everything through the lens of how it affects Lulu’s. I can understand that to her the hotel is literally her parent’s legacy. As immigrants to the US, they put their hearts and souls into starting it and building it to what it is now. Reena has grown up expecting to one day inherit it and not only keep it going but keep improving it. The woman is intense about the hotel. It will take Akash and most of the rest of the characters to show her that people come first. Once Reena realizes this – and how it affects Lulu’s – she does apologize where needed, she makes it heartfelt, and she makes good.
Akash’s Achilles heel is the fear of being left as he was when he was eight and his beloved mother left him and his two younger sisters. He overheard a conversation and, as children will do, misunderstood. That no one set him straight in over 20 years makes me wince. Once he gets hold of the correct end of the stick, Akash continues the change of course in his life that he’d already started.
I do like that Reena and Akash manage to keep things going at Lulu’s without any bloodletting. Reena discovers some home truths about how her parents were running it and relaxes into the security of fixing things which comes from the cash infusion that Akash’s money brings. She does need to be bonked on the head a time or three to get lessons that she learns fixed into her mind but by the end, I think she has. Her going to each person to whom she owes an apology helps me think better of her. But then, as in “No Rings Attached,” she flips her lid for a final conflict that had me shaking my head and asking, “Where did that come from?”
It’s Akash who spills the beans – publically too, at a 500 person Indian wedding and in front of the Aunties – about his plans, which reveal to Reena what he feels for her and moves us toward The End. The family relationships still remain a bit tangled and unruly and I haven’t forgiven Mrs. Pandya and wonder how Akash’s sister can forgive him but as Akash tells Reena, you love where you love. Plus his sister makes a conciliatory move that shows me she has class. I enjoyed watching a strong heroine in Reena (even if she does need some People lessons), mentally made grabby hands at the wonderful food mentioned (though how much chai can two people drink??) and am looking forward to Reena and Akash’s 500 person Indian wedding as well as the next book in the series. B/B-