This is a followup to last year’s Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, featuring Trisha’s cousin, Ashna.
Ashna wants to save the restaurant she inherited from her father, Curried Dreams. Her friend is in TV and convinces her to be on a cooking-with-celebrities show. She has no idea who she’ll be paired with, but it turns out to be Rico, who is both her ex-boyfriend (from high school) and a world-renowned, just-retired soccer player. Unbeknownst to Ashna, Rico arranged to be her partner in an attempt to provide some closure to their relationship and prove to himself (and her) that he’s over her. Instead, they become fan favorites and the sexual tension between them is strong throughout the book, despite the fact that Ashna pretends to not know him, which annoys Rico. The further they get in the competition, the tenser things get between them, in all ways.
Ashna has a lot of other stuff going on, too. She’s still trying to manage the restaurant, and then her somewhat estranged mom shows back up. The two of them have a very complicated relationship due to the fact that her mom, Shobi, basically left her behind with Ashna’s aunt and uncle to take care of her, while she spent her time in India working on women’s rights. She is about to receive the Padma Shri, which is an Indian national medal given for distinguished service. Shobi is an important character in the book and has a few point of view chapters, even though it’s mostly Ashna’s story. Ashna’s never forgiven Shobi for abandoning her, but she learns that there is more to that complicated story.
The story is told mostly in present time, though there are several important flashbacks to Ashna and Rico’s early days and to Shobi’s, as well. It’s told from three points of view: Ashna, Rico, and a little from Shobi. Despite the intense sexual tension throughout the book, the heat level is lower than I expected, given Dev’s previous books.
Overall, this was a good novel with lots of angst and false beliefs to overcome. If you’ve enjoyed Dev’s earlier novels, you’ll definitely like this one.