Avon Impulse. $5.99, ISBN 978-0-06-285437-7
Contemporary Romance, 2019
It’s nice to see publishers putting out more romance novels with non-Caucasian characters, and Nisha Sharma’s The Takeover Effect is the first entry into a trilogy revolving around the Singh family. I confess I initially raise a brow when Hemdeep Singh has no issues being addressed as an Indian, because in my part of the world, calling a Punjabi one is tantamount to saying that the person’s mother is a canine. They are proud of their heritage, let’s just say, and if you think the Northern Indians are elitist enough about their superior status, you haven’t met a Punjabi. But perhaps that’s just those folks in my neighborhood – in the US they probably do things differently.
Also, these folks are the modern types: no ban on cutting one’s hair, for a start, and these people don’t seem like the religious type as well. So if you’re like a Punjabi lady I know of, who refuses to acknowledge the existence of her nephews and nieces because they don’t follow the old ways, you may not like Hem and Mina Kohli much. I have no issues with the scarcity of cultural and religious trappings in this one, by the way – most modern-day young kids are like that, in my experience, and it’s harder to find one that clings fully to the ways of their parents and grandparents; I’m just pointing this out to folks who may be expecting a Bollywood extravaganza in this one.
Basically, Mina wants to take back her late mother’s law firm from her mother’s two disreputable brothers, who ousted her and caused Mommy dearest to apparently become a drunkard who got behind the wheel and, oops, dead. To do so, she either has to marry a nice but boring guy (don’t ask) or cooperate with her uncle (fat, ugly, and predictably evil) and sabotage a supposedly independent review to ensure that a hostile takeover of Hem’s company by the law firm’s client takes place. Hem and Mina of course fall in love along the way.
My main issue with this one is the author’s narrative style. My goodness, I’ve read furniture assembly manuals and shopping lists that have more energy. The whole thing is being told, not shown, and there is little variation in sentence structure. Everything unfurls like bullet points in a list, and I start to wonder whether I’m reading a story for very young adults. For the most part, Mila and Hem are almost asexual despite the occasional mentions of sexual attraction, with little discernible chemistry. Then again, it’s hard to envision items on a shopping list wanting to copulate, you know?
All of a sudden, though, the clothes fall off and I get things like:
Hem leaned forward, bending her in half until her knees touch her breasts, and he felt her clench around his cock. She began to come, and her pussy milked him until his balls tightened and the orgasm shot up his spine. He shoved inside of her one last time and called out her name.
Holy moly, that’s like watching a cartoon that abruptly has the characters on screen indulging in X-rated antics. Even then, I can practically see the IKEA assembly manual in these scenes.
- Lean forward, bend her in half until the knees touch the breasts.
- Make her clench around your cock.
- Wait until her pussy has completely milked you.
- Shove inside of her one last time.
- Call out her name.
As for the plot, this is one of those stories where journals, diaries, and other convenient plot devices show up at the right time. Surprise, the hot people are the good guys, and the ugly and fat ones are cartoon-evil, and the heroine stumbles upon the final solution that lets her have the company and Hem’s pee-pee to milk dry all in one fell swoop. So obviously the plot isn’t the main priority… so what is? The romance? Well, the “how to convert an instruction sheet into a sex scene” style of the author is never going to let me get into the romance. Perhaps the priority is in the sex scenes? If that’s the case, yeah, the author’s writing style is never going to get the party started.
You may want to read The Takeover Effect if you want to find out firsthand that Punjabi characters can be as boring as any other romance novel character out there. Aside from that, there isn’t really much to savor here.