Say You’ll Be Mine by Naina Kumar
Expected Publication January 2024 by Dell
The Plot (Goodreads):
In this utterly charming debut romance, a teacher with big dreams joins forces with a no-nonsense engineer to survive an ex’s wedding and escape matchmaking pressure from their Indian families. Their plan? Faking an engagement, of course.
Meghna Raman’s parents wanted her to be an engineer, but instead she’s followed her passion, becoming a theater teacher and aspiring playwright. But when she discovers that her beloved writing partner, best friend, and secret crush, Seth, is suddenly engaged—and not to her—she realizes he’s about to become the one-that-got-away. Even worse, he’s asked her to be his best man. And worse than that, she’s agreed. Determined to try and move on and relieve a bit of the pressure she feels, Meghna agrees to let her parents introduce her to a potential match. Maybe she’ll even find the engineer her family wishes she became. . . .
Grumpy, handsome engineer Karthik Murthy has seen enough of his parents’ marriage to know that it isn’t for him. He only agreed to his mother’s matchmaking attempts to make her happy, never dreaming he would meet someone as vibrant as Meghna. Though he can’t offer her a real marriage, a fake engagement could help Meghna soothe the sting of planning Seth’s wedding festivities and Karthik avoid the absurd number of set-ups his mother has planned for the next year.
But as they find common ground, grow protective of one another’s hearts, and learn to fall for the flaws they thought they hated, an undeniable chemistry takes shape. Soon, Meghna and Karthik’s expectations and insecurities threaten to risk something that’s become a lot more real than they hoped.
Say You’ll Be Mine is a delightful trip back to the heyday of swoony romantic comedies from the nineties, but with a deep and poignant look at the effects of culture and family in our most intimate relationships.
I adored Say You’ll Be Mine, and read it in just two sittings. From the beginning, I was drawn-in by the story, and the characters were a perfect blend of fun and complexity, leaving me eager to read more. It did take me a chapter or two to figure out which couple(s) I was rooting for, and I appreciated the fact that the romantic dynamics weren’t entirely obvious from page one. Quickly, the connections became clear, and that fast progression worked for me. The variety of relationships woven throughout the plot added depth and kept me thoroughly engaged. The book managed to surprise me in the best way, and I found the unexpected outcome at the wedding to be a delightful twist.
The female characters in the book were strong and independent, and I appreciated that they weren’t solely defined by their relationships. This was a vital aspect for me, and I was impressed to see it well-executed. I enjoyed the fact that even the minor characters had some depth and their own unique stories, although there were instances where they seemed to get lost in the narrative. While I loved Ankita’s character and her story in the first half of the book, the rushed handling of her storyline in the latter part left me wanting more. I needed to experience her situation directly rather than hearing summaries conveyed through phone conversations with Meghna.
The comment made by one of the white groomsmen about wanting to attend an Indian wedding to experience a different culture was something that resonated with me. The Indian culture that formed the foundation of this story was a captivating aspect, and while Meghna’s storyline shouldn’t be altered, it left me wishing for a glimpse of a traditional Indian wedding.
I received an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of the book, so I encountered a couple of typos and formatting issues. However, these minor flaws did not detract from my overall enjoyment. There were, however, some discrepancies in the timeline, particularly with regard to the days of the week not being consistently aligned throughout the book. These issues extended into the epilogue, where it stated “2 years later” and made references that would not align logically.
“Say You’ll Be Mine” read like the work of a seasoned rom-com writer, which is impressive considering it’s a debut novel! I certainly recommend it to rom-com enthusiasts, especially those who enjoy the fake-dating trope. This book is a delightful addition to the genre.