Harlequin Mills & Boon, AUD14.99, ISBN 978-174306978-3
Contemporary Romance, 2013
I’m currently in a pretty deep reading slump, as well as in the midst of moving house. During this time, I’m looking for something to read in order to help me get to a different world, if only for a while, and none of the more recent releases hold my interest for some reason. When I come across in my pile of unread books Shoma Narayanan’s The One She Was Warned About, a romance set in India rather than an American romance novel with Indian characters, hey, why not?
Shweta Mathur is a stiff-lipped, everything-in-its-place type with of course the usual more outgoing BFF cliché. She reunites with her childhood friend-turned-pest Nikhil Nair, and there is an attraction except when there’s not, oh wait, they are totally attracted, but she says she isn’t, even if she is, because she thinks he isn’t, but he is, only she doesn’t think he is capable of being attracted to her because he’s still a Mommies’ boy (he has two moms, basically, as his mother is the mistress of his father and they all live together with Nakhil’s father’s wife in the same house), even if he is, and I start to feel my eyeballs rolling on their own accord by the time I reach the midway point of this story.
In here, people talk, people flounce, people talk some more, and the conflicts that occur as basically our heroine stomping her foot each time Nakhil acts like an overgrown man-boy. So I turn the pages and read, turn the pages and read some more, and so forth until I realize I’ve reached the end of the book. I put it down, realize that I’m not sure what I’ve gained from the whole experience – my feelings lean more towards bored indifference than anything else – before checking to see whether there’s anything worth a look at Netflix or something.
Mind you, this is actually the best of the author’s books that I have read so far. Unlike her other previous offerings, this one boasts a tighter narrative with far fewer meandering tangents into inconsequential stuff. The author also ups the sexual tension between Shweta and Nikhil, although given that this is fiction in India, it’s more about holding hands and kissing instead of hungry piggy banks and taki taki rumbas. After all, India is this strange place where everyone’s having sex, but they will burn the cinema or bookstore down if there are things in there suggesting that male and female parts can fit together. Aside from all this, though, there are still no interesting plot lines or characters. This one doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be a story for adults or kids, and ends up being maybe a bit too sexy as a kid’s story in the eyes of conservative Indian parents, while at the same time the characters themselves behave and speak like vapid kids too banal for an adult story.
The One She Was Warned About – oh, how I wish. It’s alright, it’s not terrible by any stretch of imagination, but it’s competent in the most uninteresting manner.