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The author of The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral returns with a story about finding love in all the wrong inboxes...
Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.
There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.
The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…
When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?
Source: digital ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
In her third book in the Modern Love series, Alisha Rai opts out of insta-lust and instead goes for a bit of a slowburn romance that perfectly fits the natures of Jia and Dev.
It all starts with an unfortunate case of catfishing. Jia was convinced that she'd been exchanging those sweet texts with Bollywood star, Dev. She decides to make the bold move to meet him in person when he's in LA to film a new show. Their interaction is the stuff of nightmares because Dev is caught off guard and has no idea who she is. Humiliated and angry, she runs off leaving a perplexed Dev to fight out what just happened. Sure enough he does and feels this immense responsibility to make things right with her. Right there, THAT is what sets Dev apart immediately. He's so super conscientious about things and people, he can't let go of what happened so he reaches out to Jia. She initially wants nothing to do with him ever but when being seen with him might get her parents and family off her back for her career choices, she offers up a different way for him to make it up to her. A fauxmance could serve them both well.
First Comes Like has a different tone to it. It's not flashy and as I said earlier, it's not insta-lust. It's a gradual progression to romance based on becoming friends first and then leading to more. Dev has always maintained a low profile opposite to that of the rest of the men in his family. It's like his goal is to be under the radar and not be embroiled in scandals. What's most wonderful about this story is how much their different cultural backgrounds play in to their relationship for which there's a deep mutual respect. There's no deep conversation about it just that it's something they get about each other. Which reminds me, can we please take a moment to adore this cover and acknowledge how monumental it is that there is a brown, hijab-wearing Muslim woman on the cover of a romance novel? This means the world to so many women looking for representation. And on the same level, Dev is a huge supporter of Jia's career. Being an influencer is still a suspect choice in the eyes of some families, but he sees her remarkable skills and encourages her. He's seriously a sweetheart.
The hardest time I had with this was when the families became involved. I'm just so uncomfortable with families in general pushing for marriage before the parties involved even know how they feel or have any feelings for each other in the first place. I felt their presence only rushed matters and I guess it didn't feel quite as romantic to me because it wasn't an outcome that happened in its own due time. It also seems that Jia and Dev become weird around each other after that, like they've suddenly forgotten how to communicate. They had such a good rhythm going and then it was all thrown off.
I enjoyed First Comes Like because of its different approach to a romance based on the personalities and cultures of its hero and heroine. I'm glad for the change of pace and it just fed my soul to read two genuinely lovely, decent people become closer. Alisha Rai is a supberb writer and I'll go on reading this series as long as she keeps churning them out.