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New Release Review! INCENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Sonali Dev (The Rajes #3)

Incense and Sensibility cover

The author of Recipe for Persuasion—“not only one of the best but one of the bravest romance novelists working today” (Shelf Awareness)—adds an Indian American twist to Jane Austen’s classic Sense and Sensibility in this delightful retelling that is a feast for the senses.

Yash Raje, California’s first serious Indian gubernatorial candidate, has always known exactly what he wants—and how to use his privileged background to get it. He attributes his success to a simple mantra: control your feelings and you can control the world.

But when a hate-fueled incident at a rally critically injures his friend, Yash’s easy life suddenly feels like a lie, his control an illusion. When he tries to get back on the campaign trail, he blacks out with panic.

Desperate to keep Yash’s condition from leaking to the media, his family turns to the one person they trust—his sister’s best friend, India Dashwood, California’s foremost stress management coach. Raised by a family of yoga teachers, India has helped San Francisco’s high strung overachievers for a decade without so much as altering her breath. But this man—with his boundless ambition, simmering intensity, and absolute faith in his political beliefs—is like no other. Yash has spent a lifetime repressing everything to succeed.

Including their one magical night ten years ago—a too brief, too bright passion that if rekindled threatens the life he’s crafted for himself. Exposing the secrets might be the only way to save him but it’s also guaranteed to destroy the dream he’s willingly shouldered for his family and community . . . until now.

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This was absolutely lovely! I realized about a quarter of the way through that though I’d read book one ( Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors ) I completely missed book two ( Recipe for Persuasion ), so guess what I picked up from the library? 😉

Incense and Sensibility is pretty much my catnip–a believable second chance romance, a modern day retelling of Jane Austen (does anyone else get positively giddy when they realize a cleverly written parallel in a JA retelling, or is it just me? Please say it’s not just me…), and throw in a (fictional, but still) politician who truly does want to be a public servant working for the people who (will hopefully) elect him–I honestly couldn’t not pick it up. And I am so glad I did!

Yash and India’s story was simply lovely. The family dynamics within both families were fantastic–India’s especially gave us all the best bits of the original literary Dashwoods; Sonali Dev managed to make me far more sympathetic towards China (the Marianne character) than I usually am, even though her characterization was truly spot on. The things that were keeping Yash and India apart seemed just as heartbreaking as in the original, quite a feat since the author truly did make the story her own by putting them in situations that Ms Austen herself never could have even dreamed of. But gah, they tore me apart in just the same way. And yet the book also made me laugh out loud quite often too…not to mention I have a strange desire to dig out my yoga equipment and give it another go… 😉

I closed my ereader after finishing this one with the most ridiculously happy sigh. Fingers crossed that Ms Dev continues this series, because I need a decent Northanger Abbey retelling. And if anyone can get me past my dislike of Mansfield Park (#yesIsaidit #sorrynotsorry) it’s probably Sonali Dev. No pressure, Ms Dev!

I really, really hope that readers of the future will find the issues that Yash and India feel so passionate about to be quaint and old fashioned because actual politicians have already solved them IRL, but I won’t hold my breath… :'(

I don’t have time right now for a S&S re-read, but I can definitely feel a re-watch in my not-so-distant future… 😉

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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