A copy of Accidentally Engaged was provided by Forever
In the wise, wise words of Oprah, “I love bread!”. I’m also a huge fan of romance novels – put both of them together (and add a cooking reality show), and you have Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron.
Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.
But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.
As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.
Farah Heron had a great way of infusing comedy into every scene – there were several times when I laughed out loud (which I don’t often do while reading). She also had a real knack for building chemistry between Reena and Nadim – even though Reena did not want to like Nadim (due to her parents arranging their marriage) they were clearly very attracted to each other and had some serious sparks flying.
One of my gripes with Accidentally Engaged was the ending – it felt a bit rushed – like the couple skipped over a whole bunch of steps in their relationship. While the two definitely had a lot of chemistry and sexual tension, it just didn’t make sense to me for them to get so serious so quickly. I wish the last part of the book had been a bit more organic.
I loved Reena – she was a strong female character who was struggling with hating her career, being stifled by her family’s constant interference (especially in her love life), and wanting to follow her baking dreams. Throughout the book one of her key areas of growth was in learning to let the people around her in – in the beginning her walls were so high up she couldn’t see the good intentions of the people around her.
As the story progressed, Nadim slowly helped her crumble her walls, and by the end of the book Reena was not only more open, she was also brave enough to pursue her dreams and be open about her life to her parents. There were also strong themes of Reena trying to figure out how she fit into her culture – how she could be herself while also being a part of her community.
This is the perfect rom-com for anyone who loves love stories and has been baking bread during quarantine (or even just considering making a sourdough starter). Nadim and Reena’s chemistry was off the charts and I loved the themes of learning how to find your own way while still being a part of your community. If you enjoyed this book, you should check out The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez and The Dating Plan by Sarah Desai. 4/5