From the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors comes another , clever, deeply layered, and heartwarming romantic comedy that follows in the Jane Austen tradition—this time, with a twist on Persuasion.
Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen?
Rico Silva, that’s what.
Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster.
FIFA winning soccer star Rico Silva isn't too happy to be paired up with Ashna either. Losing Ashna years ago almost destroyed him. The only silver lining to this bizarre situation is that he can finally prove to Ashna that he's definitely over her.
But when their catastrophic first meeting goes viral, social media becomes obsessed with their chemistry. The competition on the show is fierce…and so is the simmering desire between Ashna and Rico. Every minute they spend together rekindles feelings that pull them toward their disastrous past. Will letting go again be another recipe for heartbreak—or a recipe for persuasion…?
In Recipe for Persuasion, Sonali Dev once again takes readers on an unforgettable adventure in this fresh, fun, and enchanting romantic comedy.
Sonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and written communication, migrating across the globe, and starting a family while writing for magazines and websites. With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force, and she now combines it with her insights into Indian culture to conjure up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler.
Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog.
Calling Recipe for Persuasion fun and breezy is highly misleading. This book deals with a lot of serious issues that should have come with a big fat warning. Also, I'd have liked this a whole lot better if Sonali Dev hadn't called it a retelling.
Basically after a shitty childhood with an alcoholic father and absentee mother, Ashna Raje has abandonment issues, depression and severe anxiety. As if that wasn't enough, she's on the verge of running her restaurant to the ground, unless she takes up her bestfriend's offer to take part in a celebrity cooking reality show. But there's a catch. She'll have to partner with her ex-boyfriend from high school, who even after 12 years is pissed that she dumped him (which is kinda stupid because she's under the impression that he jilted her). Anyway, there are residual feelings, sparks, tangled web of misunderstandings, ego clashes, a sad attempt at love triangle meant to confuse the readers and online fans dead set on seeing this couple together after a rather disastrous reunion goes viral. They even come up with a cute otp #Ashico! After 200 pages of family drama and heart to hearts, Ashna hears the guy's side of things and all is well in paradise. Now, moving on to what I really wanted to talk about, was the story of Ashna's mother, Shobi. Seeing everything from Ashna's perspective, initially we get the feeling that her mother is a cold, career oriented opportunitist who doesn't care about her only child. And I did find it childish that Ashna chooses to believe her diabolical, dead beat dad over her mum every time and that even after his death she clings to the notion of what he wanted her to be. Try as she might, pleasing her dead father doesn't bring her nothing but a big bunch of bills from her therapist, a crippling anxiety if she so much as attempts to do something on her own and increasing levels of unhappiness over the years.
Once Shobi reveals her story of being forced into the marriage by her dad and the guy she considered her friend, the horror of her wedding night, forced to see her child being taken away and so much more, everything is crytal clear for Ashna. So much that all her issues are magically sorted. First stop is her boyfriend's hotel room, and then she's on her way to happily ever after. Um, sorry? Anxiety doesn't work like that.
I understand that she feels like she's got a parent back, but did it actually take the story of her mom's rape to convince herself that her dad was a douche? He blackmails her into staying with him when she was just ten! He literally waves a gun in her face and tells her that he'll off himself if she thinks about going back to her mom. And this is just one of the many times he's been a shitty dad. This guy would probably win the "Vilest Parent Ever" title on his good day.
I'm even made mad at Ashna's kaki for not being honest with her about the true state of her parents' marriage, seeing she had the front row seat to all of Shobi's misfortunes. I can't put it in words how much I admired Shobi for changing her life around after being dealt with such shitty cards. Not to say I'm unsympathetic toward Ashna, but sometimes I couldn't help but feel that she purposefully wanted to be alone and miserable. Because, unlike her mom, she's got a huge family by her side and a guy who's ready to worship the ground she walks on, even at 18, which I must confess, is kinda stupid. I couldn't see past their mutual attraction to a deeper relationship. Almost 40 percent of this book was rather depressing to read. I did like the hero, but he's not someone I'd fangirl over after DJ and the like. I'm sorry to say I didn't like this as much as the first book, because I was pretty excited when the blurb was out. Still, I'm going with 4 starts because Sonali's writing style is awesome as ever and the way she handles touchy subjects like marital rape, child neglect and alcohol abuse was commendable.
Nope, this is not sweet romcom that I’ve dreamed of and it is not also great example for retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
I actually have to admit that when I click the request button, I didn’t think it was retelling of one of the famous classics. I looked at the beautiful cover and read the blurb made me think it’s entertaining second chance romance with humorous enemies- ex lovers story with a sweet and romantic touch of Indian cultural motifs. But as soon as I got the book into my hands, I found the story way too much tragic.
There are suicide, child neglect, alcoholism. But one thing I know: Ashna is definitely not Persuasion’s Anne! The things they’re in common: First letters of their names, rejecting the man they could have HEA, risk of poverty ( she can lose her restaurant that she keeps it open for the memory of his deceased father) and their ages.
And of course Persuasion is the wrongest choice to be retold in cooking reality show drama concept centered on a young chef suffering from anxiety and ex soccer star suffering from leg injury. The staccato way of story telling was too wordy, arduous, slow and made me lose my interest.
I didn’t have problem about characters but their tragic stories overshadowed their love stories at most parts and Ashna’s too selfish mother reminded me of soap opera villanelles.
Overall: I may sense the author has real talent by her word choices and the way of building stories but she gave so much details and descriptions that slow down the pace. And the tragic events she developed for own characters were too depressing and heavy. So I go with solid 3 stars for this book because I felt like being deceived after reading enjoyable blurb and vivid cover of the book.
I expected something enlightening my dark mood. We’re locked down in our house! You may imagine my husband and me give each other our kill at the first sight glares. He just called steak with my name when he cut it into tiny pieces as if he’s planning the perfect mur... I mean cooking perfect stew. So all I need a perfect reading escape for getting through these stressful days! But unfortunately this is not my cup of Irish whiskey (happy St. Patrick’s Day quarantine Eve by the way! )
Special thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers/ William Morrow Paperbacks for sharing this interesting ARC in exchange my honest review. I wish I could like it more.
In this loose retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Ashna is a Bay Area chef so desperate to save her family’s failing restaurant she agrees to compete on the reality tv show Cooking with the Stars. That’s where she reconnects with her first love—now a Brazilian soccer star—on live tv, for the first time since he disappeared twelve years ago on the worst night of her life.
Dev puts her own spin on Austen’s classic, while highlighting the timeless themes of the original: a young woman sensitive to her family’s criticism, a disadvantaged young man with no credentials but a bright future, an unexpected second chance at first love. I found this to be a sensitive, satisfying update.
Note: while this is a follow-up to Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors, Recipe for Persuasion stands just fine on its own.
It’s funny because I keep seeing low ratings/negative reviews for this series and I seem to be the oddball that really enjoys it! Sonali Dev does her own spin on Austen novels, and I wouldn’t even really call them a retelling but a reimagining of the Austen world. I don’t get too stuck on her following the story but she gets the heart of it down for sure.
Recipes for Persuasion is a second chance romance between chef Ashne Raje and British football star Rico Silva. They fell in love when they were in high school and were torn apart when Ashne’s family didn’t approve. Twelve years later Ashne joins a cooking competition show in an effort to save her restaurant, and Rico Silva is the celebrity she’s assigned.
I think I liked this book (and series) so much because I listened to it on audiobook. The paperback is more than 400 pages which is super lengthy for a romance and I think the audio format works because for me it just flew by. Persuasion is one of my favorite Austen novels and I enjoyed this take on it. The discussions of family trauma, misunderstandings throughout the years, family secrets: all of it worked perfectly in this book. The only thing I didn’t love was I didn’t quite see the moment Rico switched in his affections for Ashne, but otherwise I really enjoyed listening to this book.
[2.5] I thought Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors was a delightful romcom so had high hopes for Dev's 2nd Austen tribute. Unfortunately, the plot almost keeled over with the burdens of Ashna and her mother. I found it difficult to root for the confused heroine who (unlike Anne Elliot) wallows in her guilt and unhappiness.
Ashna Raje is struggling. Her restaurant could use some major renovations, and she can barely fill thirty of the dining room’s one hundred tables on a good night. She never seems to see eye-to-eye with her very successful mother, who lives in India and rarely makes time to visit Ashna in the San Francisco Bay Area. And now, Ashna’s cousin and best friend want her to star on a celebrity cooking show, where she’ll be paired off with a famous partner and have the chance to win enough money to turn her restaurant around. The restaurant is all that remains of her father, so determined to hold onto it, Ashna reluctantly agrees.
Frederico “Rico” Silva is also struggling. A recent knee injury led him to an early retirement as a world-renown FIFA player. At his teammate’s bachelor party, Rico begins reminiscing about all the women he’s ever dated and finds himself fixated on the one girl with whom he never found closure. A quick internet search reveals she’s to be a contestant on the Food Network’s upcoming celebrity cooking show, and before he allows himself time to reconsider, Rico picks up his phone and asks his agent to book him the gig.
Despite this lighthearted premise, Recipe for Persuasion is not the romantic comedy its description makes it out to be. While it contains some upbeat moments, including Ashna and Rico’s TV cook-offs or Ashna’s close relationships with her cousins, the book explores several heavier topics that better categorize it as a drama. Ashna and Rico’s romance is one of rekindled love that forces them to reexamine their past relationship as they fall for each other again; however, in doing so, they must revisit the severe traumas they respectively faced as children that impacted their breakup.
The book also heavily focuses on Ashna’s strained relationship with her mother, Shobi, and includes many chapters from Shobi’s point of view, past and present. This element serves well to tie-in the series’ overarching theme of the Raje family’s intricate relationships and offers a revealing look at the older generation who came before Ashna (and Trisha, for those who read the first book in this series).
Fans of Trisha’s story will not be shocked to hear that Ashna’s tale also contains somber topics, nor will they be surprised to know that Sonali Dev‘s beautiful and poignant writing will take you on an emotional roller coaster. It was lovely seeing how Ashna and Rico found home in one another after being lost for so long. Although the Raje family drama overshadowed their romance, Ashna’s heart-wrenching, vulnerable examination of herself and her relationship with Shobi and even with her father is where this book truly shines.
Lastly, I’m looking forward to Dev’s retelling of Sense and Sensibility, as I don’t think the appearance of sisters China and India Dashwood in this book was simply a coincidence.
Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Well. Here we are again with another book blatantly being called a rom-com and there’s a small serving of rom, but definitely no com. And I’m extra disappointed because not only was PP+OF one of my top 10 books the year it released, but Persuasion is a dear favorite of mine.
I liked Ashna and Rico well enough. They’re both good people who are still hung up on each other; however for me, it wasn’t charming. I didn’t quite see the chemistry between them and more often than not, was told they had feelings. I knew going in that the reconciliation wouldn’t be until the end, but I did want movement towards it. Everything seemed so drawn out and repetitive.
Plot wise, it was much darker than the cover and synopsis led me to believe. Sure, the story is about Ashna and Rico finding their way back to each other, but it felt like it took a back burner to all of the family history. We get Ashna’s mom’s POV for a good portion of the story and her past is mired in heartbreak and violence.
Overall, I do enjoy these characters and I love the culture and food, but this was not a familiar nod to Persuasion and definitely lacked the warmth I was expecting. Oh, and The Letter is a speech and I find that inexcusable.
FYI: marital rape, suicide
**Huge thanks to William Morrow for providing the arc free of charge**
Jane Austen’s Persuasion gets a modern face lift Desi-style in this standalone sequel as Indian American chef, Ashna Raje, and Brazilian footballer, Rico Silva, encounter each other once again as acrimonious cooking partners on a reality TV show. I love that the Sonali Dev has cooked up the Raje series of modern retellings of Austen’s classical works including this second entry, Recipe for Persuasion, giving members of the Raje family their chances at romance. Ashna’s family are convinced a reality cooking show is just the jumpstart her dying restaurant needs and she is willing to do anything to preserve this last bit of her father who opened the restaurant. As a pro footballer at the top of his game, Rico thought he had moved on from Ashna’s rejection. That is until he is injured badly and yet another relationship didn’t work out. He decides he has to do something about not being over his teenage love so signs onto the show to be Ashna’s partner. He vents his long smoldering anger, but also understands as an adult what his teenage self couldn’t when he learns the true state of Ashna’s affairs. Understanding her leads to understanding of the past. Ashna had a difficult childhood. Her father, a prince, was forced out of India for some trouble he got into and lost the lifestyle he was accustomed to making him a bitter, angry man. Her parents were stuck in a loveless marriage where abuse and alcoholism were rife and Ashna was physically abandoned by her mother while the father’s issues were just as unhealthy for her so that, even after his death, she works to please a father who was never going to be pleased. It was his dream to go to Paris and become a superb chef. Ash pursued it for him Now she can’t even create her own dishes without bringing on an anxiety attack. She can only keep his restaurant just as he had it and cook only his dishes which is why the restaurant is failing. Others see the problem, yet she refuses to heed them because honoring her father is all she has left. Into this situation steps the boy become man from her past and she hasn’t gotten over him. When I chose this book, I was enchanted at the thought of the Persuasion story being set in a modern Indian-style setting. I loved the lavish descriptions, the traditions, cultural background, and, oh my stars, the food. I was so hungry reading this one that I had to whip up some hummus. The connection of family was strong including Ashna’s cousin Trisha who had her story in the first book.
I thought the author did a good job making Austen’s classic plot the bones of this story and filling it in with modern characters and modern concerns. I glanced at the blurb and noticed it describes Recipe For Persuasion as a Romcom. Personally, I think that gives the wrong impression. This had some humorous moments, but it was not a light story. It read closer to women’s fiction for me because so much had to be addressed before even the romance could grow.
Speaking of the romance, I was underwhelmed. I liked the characters, especially Rico, as individuals and cheered for them to find peace and their happy. However, I wasn’t feeling their adult reunion romance. I couldn’t see what maintained it over the years to that strength since, in this version, they were teens who fell in love and this is way longer a gap in years. In addition, I wasn’t feeling it between them as adults. Ash was a hot mess and she was content to stay that way. She was wilting and so down on herself. I struggled with her parts of the narration and even preferred her mother Shobi’s narrative sections about her miserable past and inability to connect with her own child as a result. So, Ash, as a woman to capture the confident and handsome adult Rico’s interest? Um, no. And, that brings me to Rico’s prickly anger. Just after they broke up, sure, be angry, but it makes no sense to me that he still feels it so strongly and places so much blame this many years later. Turns out like the original character, his anger was masking something else. I liked the process of his eyes being opened and grasping this new chance. Rico did end up being rather romantic when he got over it. Spoiler alert. Sorry Captain Wentworth fans, no romantic “You pierce my soul.” letter to Ashna, though he did find a different way to be swoony. In summary, I liked, but did not love this book. To be fair, my personal mood and my struggle to read this style book is also a factor. I found the heroine and her romance only mildly engaging, but on the other hand, there was a richness to the setting and background that drew me in, a hero who caught my interest, and the author’s writing style was solid. Again, I would recommend this more to fiction than straight romance fans and those who enjoy modern retellings.
I rec'd this book via Net Galley to read in exchange for an honest review.
I drooled my way through the first book of this Jane Austen–based series, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors. Would the sophomore effort measure up?
Well, almost. I am a big fan of Dev’s cluster of characters, the Raje family, Indian aristocrats transplanted to a more egalitarian California but still trailing clouds of privilege in their wake. They are glamorous but grounded, rooted in but not bound by their culture and traditions. They lead rich lives (in the values sense, more than the economic sense) but also encounter real suffering. These books are not your typical “boy meets girl, boy and girl quarrel and misunderstand each other while fighting attraction, boy and girl get together” stories; though the stories follow that arc, they transcend it on every page, both in style and in substance.
The first book was inspired by Pride and Prejudice, a book Jane Austen called “light, bright, and sparkling,” so it’s not surprising that P,P, and Other Flavors was a cheerier novel than Recipe for Persuasion, based on Austen’s most wistful and melancholy book. Even so, I was unprepared for the level of trauma faced by the central characters; their histories are deeply gutting.
The heroine is Ashna Raje, a thirty-year-old running the restaurant founded by her father and the place where he died. She is so paralyzed by her life that she passes out every time she tries to cook a new recipe—unfortunately, as a result, her restaurant is failing. Not only is her father dead but her mother has been MIA from her life for years. The hero, Rico Silva, is a world-famous soccer player who has lost his career to a knee injury, his parents to a car accident, and his childhood sweetheart, Ashna, to the pressures brought to bear on the young. A third character who—in a major departure from the Persuasion storyline—keeps trying to take over the narrative is Ashna’s mother, who chose life in India and good works over life with her (hated) husband and child in California. All three have suffered more than their fair share, all three have developed a carapace that shields their quiveringly vulnerable insides from the world. Ashna in particular is so locked down that she has never been truthful to anyone, ever, except maybe Rico a bit when they were kids. And that ended in betrayal and abandonment.
Rico decides it’s time to lay the ghost of Ashna to rest, so he somewhat implausibly maneuvers his way onto a Food Network cooking show where he is paired with her in a competition. She has no warning that he’s about to turn up, with predictably disastrous results. Given her cooking block, she is scared enough about the competition already without having to face him down. Before cameras. At the same moment that her mother turns up and tries to rekindle their relationship. But she has to go through with it as her only hope to save the restaurant.
The author has a technique of spinning out suspense about people’s backstories till the reader is screaming to know the reasons for their current actions. In the first book of the series, this tactic worked well because the suspense was about a secondary character. Here it is less effective because it is details of Ashna’s life that are not revealed till the climax. As a result, she exists as a bit of a blank through most of the book, making it harder to attach to her. We know she is deeply traumatized, and therefore frozen both emotionally and professionally. We learn a lot about her feelings about her mother and other family members, but relatively little about her feelings for Rico. We know she believes Rico betrayed her, but Rico also believes that she betrayed him. How that can be is left hanging for too long in my opinion.
Instead of reasons why, what we get is a lot of her powerful physical attraction to him, and stretched out over several hundred pages that became monotonous to me. There was a little glimpse early on of the mutual intuition and deep curiosity about each other that drew them together as teenagers (and that is more, I must admit, than Jane Austen gives us of the attraction between the lovers in Persuasion), but then too little about their adult selves made a relationship make sense. They obsessively observe each other and obsessively care, but why?
This I felt to be a flaw at the heart of an otherwise wonderful book. Western readers can learn a lot about the cruel, warped patriarchy of Indian culture, circumstances that reduce the gender-based discrimination prevalent in the United States to a microscopic level, as one character points out gently near the end. Many people in the book had to overcome horrendous events to live lives that had meaning and opened up space for happiness, and others had huge issues to forgive before they could learn to grow. There’s a lot of pain here—too much for any readers going into the book expecting a rom-com—but a lot of gain as well.
I give Sonali Dev massive props for not just refreshing but also expanding and reimagining her genre, and consider her one of the masters. Despite my minor qualms, I devoured this book over a couple of days, and now get to look forward to rereading the first two books before the third comes out. Soon? Please?
Trigger warnings for all sorts of interpersonal and self-inflicted violence, off the page but central to the plot. Sex scenes are few and stop at the bedroom door.
Comparing this to book #1, it's not as perfect and not as good as the first one. BUT it's still freaking good because when you're comparing to a masterpiece like Pride, Prejudice, and other Flavors, it's hard to live up to.
If you like gut-wrenching angst, swoon worthy romance, and family drama that would mess you up when all the truth is revealed--pick this one up. I absolutely loved the mother/daughter relationship that really needed to be mended with communication. I also loved the yearning these our hero and heroine experienced that made me ansty for them to get together. The only thing is that if you HATE miscommunication as a reason why problems start, you might not like this one as much. Although it wasn't pure miscommunication, it definitely played lightly on things as to why the problems existed.
This south asian romance explores arranged marriages and I know from friends that they're tired of south asian romances with arranged marriage themes but this one is different in a way. The romance was not romanticized for the characters involved. It's more raw and real.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
She was the one who couldn’t be the kind of daughter who made her mother want to stay. She was the daughter who wasn’t enough for her father to give up whatever it was he got from his scotch.
Recipe for Persuasion continues an intimate look into the lives of the Raje family members, an Indian royal family living in California who readers were introduced to in Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors. Newcomers could jump in here, as while past characters still remain a part of the story, this focuses on a different branch. Ashna is the daughter of the younger Raje son, a man who let being a prince and the indulgences of such a position lead him to more selfish and easier decisions, choices that greatly affected Ashna's childhood and turned her into an extremely closed off and dealing with depression and anxiety induced by PTSD now adult. Ashna met Rico when they were in highschool and the two secretly dated for two years before there was a major blow-out involving her father. Twelve years later, Rico decides that he wants at least some closure with Ashna and decides to get on the reality cooking show “Cooking With the Stars” where Ashna will be competing as a chef.
She was with him even when she wasn’t with him.
The beginning sets up our characters with Ashna still reeling and dealing with the fallout of her alcoholic father's suicide twelve years earlier. To escape after the suicide, Ashna went to culinary school in Paris, leaving her father's restaurant, Curried Dreams, in the hands of employees who in turn embezzled money and has her still trying to stave off bankruptcy. While Ashna's intensely private and gets severe panic attacks whenever she tries to alter her Baba's (father) recipes, severely hampering her cooking ability, another fight with her mother has her agreeing to be on the show.
We get less of an in depth look at Rico's life, currently, he's just retired from being a star football (soccer) player and musing over the fact he is godfather to more than one ex-girlfriend's children. He lost his parents young and while his mother was his father's mistress, they loved each other and he had a happy childhood. There's some drawing out, in regards to the pain he felt as a child over his father never really being able to claim him publicly, through Ashna wanting to keep their relationship secret in highschool and feeling like she choose her father over him, to give his character's emotions some depth. However, he's more to the side and why I'm not sure I'd fully call this genre romance but more of a mashup of women's fiction and, what I call, literary romance.
Have you ever thought about what it means to hide what’s important to you from those you love?
What isn't immediately apparent but instead is slowly, onion layers peeled away, is that the main relationship of the story isn't about romantic love but mother and daughter. Most of the first half showcases Ashna's point-of-view of how her fierce advocate for girl and women's rights mother, Shoban, constantly abandoned her and how that made her feel unloved and unwanted. The second half gives readers Shoban's side of the story, with flashbacks and her current thoughts and feelings. Shoban's character came very close to stealing the show, if not doing so at times, and I found myself almost wishing this was her story.
She’d finally listen.
If you're going into this strictly for the romance, you'd end up missing what makes Sonali Dev's writing so beautifully piercing at times; the profound way it speaks family relationships and how quietly devastating and loving they can be. Ashna's aunt, Mina, calmly speaks this to Ashna:“I like to believe we changed things at least a little, your mother more than me. But in this changed world, you girls can’t seem to see how it was for us. You can’t see our obstacles because we removed them for you. And now you get to judge us from a perspective that we weren’t lucky enough to enjoy.”. It is a fairly quick moment but has such power when Ashna relates it to her mother.
“Do you mean it?” Her voice was a whisper. He swallowed, his thickly stubbled jaw tightening. “Mean what?” “Everything you say to me with your eyes?”
Along with the poignant writing, I took delight in some of the little details, like how Dev continues with her Jane Austen tie-ins. As you can guess by the title, Ashna and Federico 's second chance love story is inspirit of Anne and Frederick from Persuasion. The closeness of their names is cute but the hashtag that grows from fan's love of the pair on the reality cooking show, #Ashico, “which when said out loud sounded far too much like the Hindi word ashiquo which, disastrously enough, meant “lovers.””, is a perfect book's cultural little tie-in bow.
While I didn't quite get all I needed from Rico and his relationship with Ashna, this story was more about the forest than the trees for me. The overarching look at how familial relationships shape and define us and how that leads us to shape and define our own relationships. Dev's writing always has a beating heart underneath it that never fails to move and connect with me some way, I'm looking forward to going on the next emotional journey with the Raje family.
CW: talk of past alcoholism, suicide and rape; ptsd and panic attacks
I have a thing for desi Jane Austen retellings, so as soon as I saw the announcement for this book, I knew I was going to read it. Second chance romance on the other hand is not my favorite trope, but because I knew how Persuasion turns, I thought I would love this one too. It didn’t end up working that way though.
The bare bones of the story is quite close to the original, but I was actually excited for the reality cooking show plotline which turned out to be just ok. The author’s writing is pretty descriptive in places which also didn’t really work for me. I liked the characters of Ashna and Rico individually and there was chemistry between them when they meet again, but we only are ever told and I never got to see why they were so deeply in love with each other even after more than a decade. Ashna’s mother Shobi is the other POV we get and my feelings for her kept oscillating between like and hate. I really wanted to like and root for the characters, but their pasts are so full of tragedy that it just depressed me. To be honest, I only kept waiting for them to get their act together and finally be happy because I couldn’t bear how much they were wallowing in their misery.
On the whole, maybe I read this book at the wrong time or I just had wrong expectations, because despite being objectively well written, I didn’t enjoy it much. If you are in the mood for a contemporary romcom which will make you swoon or smile, this is definitely not it. It’s more tragic and sad for the most part, and I just wasn’t ready for it. But maybe it’ll work for for you if you go in with the right expectations.
A very loose nod to Austen's Persuasion. Ashna Raje is trying to hang onto her beloved father's once successful Indian restaurant at all costs. The restaurant is in crisis, millions of dollars were embezzled. Now she is doing all she can to lower overheads and rebuild the restaurant, her father's dream. And that's the crux, Ashna needs to discover her own dream. Her cousin persuades as her to take part in a reality tv cooking show. Grand prize of $100,000 Little did Ashna know that the former love of her life would be her partner. Soccer star Rico Silva has used his influence to ensure this. Being thrown together, in the spotlight and off, forces Rico and Ashna to re-evaluate themselves, their reactions and other aspects of their lives. Devastating secrets are forced into the open. For Ashna that includes reassessing her relationship with both her mother and her father. Ashna's father was an Indian Prince sent by his family to the United States to build a new life for himself and his family. Her mother had deserted the Prince and Ashna many years before, returning to India to advocate for girls sporting rights that developed into female empowerment in other areas of life. To say Ashna and her mother's relationship is fraught is a massive understatement. Although Ashna's mother's story raises interesting issues about relationships between generations. Including the idea that current generations accept the status quo of women's rights as they are now without appreciating previous generation's historical situations and the cost to them. Those forgotten battles are the legacy that current generations move forward from. On the surface this story is a very readable modern love story, but underneath, with its richly woven background, darkness hovers, resentments simmer, and redemption possibilities hide around the corner, if one is brave enough. I loved the title. Talking, being open, and forgiving are necessary ingredients for persuasion to happen in this situation. Rethinking this novel, I came to appreciate even more it's depth. I decided this is actually a five star read and not the four star I was originally going with. There are comic moments, but Recipe for Persuasion is far from a romantic comedy.
I have so many mixed feelings about this compelling yet frustrating book. It's engrossing for sure, but I feel like this story has been hijacked by its secondary characters and flashbacks and I have no idea why this was necessary.
One of Ashna’s greatest challenges is that she feels that other people don’t see her, that she’s not enough. Reading this book, I couldn't shake the sense that her creator seems to share that opinion. She’s apparently so bored with her main character that she abandons her for long stretches for one with a more dramatic personality and arc.
Perhaps because of this shift in focus from Ashna to Shobi there are several neglected and underdeveloped threads to this story. Most importantly, we don't spend much time with Ashna and Rico, and. their relationship seems fuzzy and underdeveloped as a result. If there are going to be flashbacks in a second chance romance, shouldn’t most of them focus on the two main characters falling in love?
A more minor, but odd loose thread is a subplot about Ashna's jealousy of or rivalry with another contestant on the celebrity cooking show that brings Ashna and Rico together. At one point, a specific competitor is presented as Ashna's motivation to win a challenge in her reality tv cooking competition, except this rival is barely a secondary character. His name appears exactly four times prior to her declaration that she's going to "kick Danny's butt." Her focus on him seems random and out of place as though it was meant to be more than it ended up being. There's a bit of a similar feeling with Rico's friends/ found family. What little we get to see of them is lovely.
It’s sad because I would have loved to read Ashna and Rico's love story. Rico is fabulous, and I would really love to read a retelling of Persuasion that engages with the book more deeply. This was not it. As for the story we got so much of-- Ashna's mother-- the story of her life and work and love was well worth telling in its own right, not stuck in as elaborate, discursive backstory to her daughter. Just very disappointing, and, again, frustrating. This is not necessarily a popular opinion but it is mine sincerely.
You should all be very, very jealous of me right now because I got to read an early version of this book, and you're going to want it. Of course, now I have the unenviable task of putting down my thoughts before I forget them while not spoiling the book in any sort of way. I will say that many Kleenexs were lost in the reading of this book. If you would like to have your innards turned inside out and then put back to rights thus leaving you with a happy but weary glow, then this is the book for you. If you like soccer players with man buns, this is the book for you. If you have a chai addiction, love cooking shows, soccer, or stories about family--specifically mothers and daughters, then this is the book for you.
As you can tell from the title, this book takes inspiration from Austen's Persuasion just as the one before played on Pride and Prejudice. Sonali captures both the wit and the inner turmoil of characters in a way that lends itself perfectly to an Austen retelling.
This is a fabulous romantic comedy about a chef who goes on a reality cooking show to save her restaurant and finds herself paired with the first love who broke her heart. Passionate, touching and hilarious!
Recipe for Persuasion is billed as a desi retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, I’ll have to take the publisher and author’s word on that because I haven’t read the original and I wasn’t impressed with the retelling. Billed as a rom-com, there was nothing funny about this story and it wasn’t particularly romantic. The hero and heroine had a forbidden teenage romance in high school for about 1 year; she is Indian, his is Brazilian and they both remember their parting in very different and vivid ways and apparently over a decade later they still have strong feelings of hate for one another which has affected their romantic lives up until now (hello, can we say therapy needed).
Ashna’s early life was lived in India until her father was a prince but banished to California for various reasons where he became a famed chef of a high touted and popular restaurant. Her mother was absent, preferring to devote her life to a foundation that supported equal rights for girl’s education and right to play sports. Ashna’s memories are of her parents fighting with her mother visited and a father who struggled with alcoholism and depression which she believed stemmed from her mother’s refusal to live full time with them. While her parent’s relationship played a huge part in shaping Ashna into the woman she is today, it bogged down this book and failed to allow the romance between Ashna and Rico to bloom.
Rico’s parents were killed when he was young and he gave up football (soccer) because it’s what his father did for a living, but after moving to California to live with an aunt, meeting Ashna, getting his heart broken he went to England and picked it up again becoming a star player until an injury forced his retirement at age 30. I gleamed from the story that Rico had abandonment issues, he was high intelligent and knew how to work the media, and he harbored a grudge against Ashna and her father that made him sign up for a reality cooking show so he could be partnered with her and make her miserable.
Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the heat between Ashan and Rico, if anything it felt more like a sibling type relationship than a romantic one. I enjoyed watching them discover each other as adults and seeing how their teenage relationship came about but so much of this story was weighed down by Asha’s strained relationship with her mother and the relationship between her mother and late father.
For me this book was just a big fail all the way around, I found it to be bloated with too much information in some ways yet lacking in others. The romance floundered and I found it difficult to like a single character in the story.
Well, now, there's a lot to chew on in this novel--feelings of abandonment, women's powerlessness in many societies, marital rape, alcoholism, suicide. Yet, while reading, I felt less like chewing on it than just spitting it out. Although I do feel empathy and compassion for those with emotional traumas and share indignation over women's lack of empowerment, the characters here were so unappealing to me and the plot so annoying that I was just happy to have finally finished the read. (I will also mention that I got this on a bargain day and do not believe it is worth the regular price.)
Supposedly, this is a retelling of Jane Austen's PERSUASION. Well, only vaguely. It's mostly just a second-chance romance and an exasperating one at that. I've been reading so many of these romances that develop in high school and end badly, while the two young lovers continue to fixate on this attachment for a decade or more. Really, do people do this? IMO, high-schoolers are young enough to get over that first love obsession and move on with their lives and their love life. That's called becoming more emotionally mature.
But no, these two have seemingly bonded for life, but since each thinks they were dumped or betrayed by the other, the love has become resentment that they can't get over. Now in their 30s, they find themselves together again, participating in a reality cooking show. (She's a chef, he's a retired sports celebrity.)
But this romance takes a back seat to all the other emotional hangups the heroine has. Resentment at a mother who she feels deserted her at a young age. Unresolved issues with an alcoholic father. Her being the one to discover the body of her father after he committed suicide. And plenty of guilt, resentment, and feelings of emotional insecurity. This heroine is a mess.
I could not feel true compassion for her, however, because she was too passive, even passive aggressive, and too lacking in any initiative or desire to discuss or resolve her emotional problems. She was the most exasperating and unlikable heroine of a contemporary romance that I've read in some time.
And then there's the heroine's mother. She's a story unto herself and that backstory took up a lot of pages of the book. Forced into a marriage she didn't want in India, in love with another man, torn between finding empowerment or living a miserable life with an abusive, alcoholic husband so that she could be with her daughter.
Well, all's well that ends well and all this misery gets resolved by the end, but I did not find this to be an enjoyable journey. The romance was unsatisfactory and the emotional traumas patly resolved in weeks after so many years of people doing absolutely nothing to improve things, instead letting everything fester.
BTW, lest you think I didn't like anything here, I'll say there was one thing: the hero. He was pleasant and caring and patient. I only wish he could have found a better love interest.
Persuasion is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels, so of course I was going to read this modern romance that riffs on Persuasion‘s themes!
Recipe for Persuasion is a loose follow-up to last year’s Pride, Prejudice & Other Flavors. The Raje family is still the center of the story, but here, the focus shifts to Ashna Raje, who was a supporting character in the previous novel.
Before getting too far into discussing Recipe for Persuasion, I want to get one thing straight, which is that the blurb above is very misleading. I think if you go into this book expecting a heartwarming romantic comedy or a fresh, fun, and enchanting romantic comedy, you’ll be both disappointed and quite possibly very confused.
Because at no time in my reading of Recipe for Persuasion did I feel it was a comedy. Not at all.
Which does not mean it was not a good read. I actually enjoyed it very much. But readers should know that this is a much sadder and darker story than the synopsis would make it out to be.
Okay, let’s get down to business. Ashna and Rico were high school sweethearts, very much in love, but each with a ton of baggage related to family expectations and demands. They dreamed and planned for a life together, but ended up apart after a really terrible set of circumstances, and the faulty communications at the time which led each to believe that the other had betrayed him/her.
(Yet another example of bad communications leading to heartbreak, which is a standard trope of the genre, and which drives me bonkers as a plot point… but I digress.)
Now, twelve years later, Ashna is a French-trained chef who’s struggling to keep her late father’s classic Indian restaurant viable, and Rico is a superstar soccer player forced into early retirement by a devastating knee injury.
When Rico is reminded of Ashna while attending a friend’s bachelor party, he decides to Google her. And when he learns that she’ll be appearing on Cooking with the Stars, he makes sure to get a slot on the reality show as her cooking partner. Rico is looking for closure, a way to get past the hurt from all those years ago when Ashna turned him away, giving into family pressure that he just wasn’t good enough for the high-class Raje family.
Meanwhile, Ashna is consumed by the guilt and trauma that accompanied her father’s death, experiences horrible panic attacks when she tries to cook anything not on her father’s original menu, is estranged from her super-feminist mother… and has never, ever gotten over Rico.
Their first meeting on set for the cooking show involves a near-miss with a very sharp knife, and suddenly, they’re a viral internet sensation. The pressure is on. Each wants to win… and also to prove to the other that they’re totally fine, which is so not the case.
Over the course of the book, we learn much more about Ashna’s past. Especially powerful are the chapters told through her mother’s point of view, which show her experiences as a young woman and the horrific situation she was forced into. Here’s where content warnings might be important: Someone expecting a romantic comedy probably won’t be prepared for scenes of abuse and rape, and I can only imagine how traumatic it would be to encounter these scenes while expecting a light romance.
This piece of the story is handled very sensitively, but of course, it’s awful and heartbreaking to read about. It also explains so much about Ashna’s experiences as a child, her parents’ marriage, her lingering resentment toward her mother, and her inability to move forward in a meaningful way in any sort of adult relationship. There’s really a lot to unpack here.
On a brighter note, Ashna and Rico have great chemistry, and I really enjoyed the scenes that show their teen years and the early stages of their romance. Because she is so traumatized, Ashna isn’t exactly a fun character (sympathetic, yes, but not fun), but luckily, Rico is — with his swagger, charm, and man-bun, he’s clearly supposed to be walking sex appeal, and this definitely comes through in the writing.
The San Francisco setting is a big plus for me, and I enjoyed revisiting the Raje family members from Pride, Prejudice & Other Flavors. As for Austen elements — the general themes of Persuasion are present, but not in such an obvious way that it feels like a retelling. As with Persuasion, the young lovers are separated in response to family pressure, but not really in the same way as in the Austen novel. Still, it’s an interesting way to weave the classic into a modern romance, and bonus points to the author for having Rico quote Frederick Wentworth’s “half agony, half hope” line!
Overall, Recipe for Persuasion is a very good read, although the balance between truly painful memories and emotions and the bustle of a reality show doesn’t always work in terms of tone. Still, I really enjoyed Ashna and Rico’s journey back to one another (there’s never any doubt, after all, that they’ll find love again)… and who can resist a book that lovingly describes so much amazing food?
Maybe that’s my main complaint, when all is said and done: This book should come with samples! I want to try every dish and cup of tea that’s described in Recipe for Persuasion.
As much as I love Pride & Prejudice, the book just doesn't update well. (I'm posting a review soon of a spectacular P&P fail.) So many of the elements of the story don't work out of context. Seduction of underage girls, the importance of one sibling's marriage on the family's fortunes, how many families one dines with, fine eyes... stuff just hits different now.
Persuasion, however, is, in many ways, a much easier tale to update. A young woman too sensitive to her family's censure, a young man whose wounded pride demands satisfaction, and a second chance to regain what they'd once lost. The challenge with Persuasion is to reproduce one of the great, if unsung, romantic heroes. If your Wentworth doesn't make a reader swoon, what even is the point?
All this to say, Sonali Dev gets this one right. I was half in love with both Ashna and Rico by the end of the first quarter.
Ashna Raje, cousin to Trisha Raje, is struggling to save her late father's once glorious restaurant. The shy Ashna is running out of options, so when her friend is looking for a chef to fill in on a pro-am reality cooking show, Ashna goes for it.
Frederico Silva has suffered an IT band injury that has put an end to his outstanding football (soccer, you heathens) career. Casting about for something to do with the rest of his life, he decides it's time to get closure from the girl who broke his teenage heart. What better way to do that than to use his fame to force his way onto the reality show?
Like Anne Eliot before her, Ashna's childhood was anything but happy. Her father was an irresponsible alcoholic prince kicked out of his country for breaking the law too many times. Her ambitious mother chafed at her loveless marriage and abandoned the family when Ashna was young. Throughout the book, Ashna is trying to find a way to heal from these traumas. Rico's return is one more wound on the pile.
Dev tells the story from multiple perspectives, and across the years. We see Ashna as a child, witnessing her parents dysfunctional relationship. Shoban as a young woman forced to marry a spoiled prince, then as an older woman trying to reconcile with the daughter she left behind. Rico gets the short shrift: he still hurts from Ashna's youthful rejection, but the story is less concerned with his past than his present.
If I had a complaint, and I truly don't, it would only be that Rico doesn't write his Wentworth note. However, I don't blame Dev one bit for not wanting to compete with that.
This might be my absolute favorite Austen retelling. It makes me want to re-read both the original and this version. I'm definitely recommending pre-ordering this to read as soon as it comes out.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley in order to facilitate this review.
I'd never read a retelling of Persuasion before but this was good! I had read Dev's Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors and really enjoyed it. I didn't enjoy this one as much but I think that's in part because Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel. Dev did well with this one and it's a thoroughly enjoyable book that I can recommend.
I'm sorry but this was just not my thang. And that is truly a damn shame since nothing is more my thang than a yummy professional football player. (Team Messi 4eva)
But yeah, a couple of things to note: (1) Don't let the cute cartoon cover fool you: this is no rom-com; it's actually fairly dark. (2) I found it to be overly dramatic purely for dramatics' sake. (3) Part of the book covers the story of Ashna's mom (which, to be completely honest, was more interesting than Ashna's story). (4) Ashna was annoying. Like, really annoying. (5) The romance between Ashna and Rico was about as flat as year-old fountain soda.
Ashna’s story really should have been two books! One about Ashna’s mother Shobi-and her hellacious relationship with Ashna’s dad- and another about Ashna and Rico. For me, the story fell short. The content was simply...too much to process.
At this point, I can tell you more about Ashna’s family drama more than I can about her and Rico, much less their second chance together, because the family drama consumed all the space. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the book was advertised differently. Total misconception on my part, so please don’t let this deter you from giving this book a try! Sonali Dev has a beautiful writing style and she tells a really good tale that makes you think. This one just wasn’t my cup of tea.
I received an advance reader copy from Avon books. This is my honest review.
Please not that I received this via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.
Trigger warnings: Rape
I loved the first book in this series so much. Sonali Dev did a great job with retelling Pride and Prejudice and with her next re-telling I went, oh no. No. No. This book was too all over the place. Reading the description you think you would be focused on the heroine (Ashna Raje) and the hero (Rico Silva) but nope, we also get into Ashna's mother's life prior to her marrying Ashna's father. I ended up being more fascinated about her life than what went on with Ashna. No one was developed very well due to the flopping back and forth. And honestly, I didn't like the final resolution with Ashna. I still don't think she's passionate about being a chef. I wish that she had acknowledged that and did something else. FYI, the book does quote Persuasion, but even my favorite line ever in the history of literature was enough to save this book.
"Recipe for Persuasion" follows Ashna Raje. Ashna is running her late father's business, "Curried Dreams." Too bad the business is about to fail. Unable to cook anything besides her father's recipes, Ashna is not able to do much in the kitchen. When her sous chef quits she doesn't know what she will do. When her cousins nag her to do a celebrity cooking show, she thinks she may have figured out how to save her father's restaurant.
Rico Silvia is recovering from a career ending sports injury. He is celebrating his best friend's upcoming wedding. During that, he starts to realize that his latest relationship ended because he didn't let himself fall in love. And he realizes he didn't because of his first love who turned him away. When Rico hears about Ashna being in a celebrity cooking show, he makes sure that he appears on the show as her partner.
The third character in this book is Ashna's mother, Shobi. Shobi was married to the former prince (Bram Raje). We slowly find out how awful the marriage was and how Shobi's life turned out the way it did. She wants to get closer to Ashna, but doesn't know how.
I have to say that Ashna bored me and got on my nerves. She blindly ignores everything she knows about her father and then somehow gets a realization about things. Girl you should have been woke up. We find out that she used to love sports (just like her mother) until she didn't and why. I wish that Dev had did a bit something different with her in regards to the ending.
Rico was a head scratcher. I honestly didn't get why he was into Ashna at all. I think that's the biggest problem I had. Dev writes them as teenagers, but there's nothing there. I saw zero chemistry between them as teens to make them be this decades long love story that just had to get together. I was also perplexed about some of Rico's past, but Dev doesn't delve into it enough. Heck she barely delves into Ashna's all the way through. We just hear things piecemail.
Shobi's backstory was more developed, which pushed me to thinking that this book should have been her story more than Ashna's. It would have set up nicely with a Persuasion type setting. Heck maybe even set it up to be retelling of Mansfield Park. Parts of the book would have worked for that maybe. I don't know. I was just frustrated and saddened when we get the full storyline here.
We get prior characters showing up in this one which was nice, but I found myself caring more about them than Ashna.
The writing was solid, the story was not. The flow was awful. Juggling through characters, different time periods and then the present day was too much.
The ending tied things up in a much too tidy bow to be believed.
Partially through the book despite it's misgivings I felt like this would be a 3 star. By the halfway mark when it was becoming a chore to get through I realized it would be a 2.
This is not a rom com like the blurb suggested and I was never able to get into the romance. The characters just didn't have much chemistry and overall were not very likable.
Rico was especially unlikable. I don't know why he was still holding on to this high school relationship at age 30 but it was made even worse by how much of an ass he acted towards Ashna. He forced his way back into her life via this competition as some sort of score to settle with her. His constant iciness towards her never felt warranted even after we received bits of their past relationship via flashback.
Ashna and her mother both need to work out their past trauma in therapy. It was quite jarring going from the lightness of the Food Network set to he alcoholism and abuse that plagued their pasts.
I received an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Well, like other reviewers have said, despite what the marketing says, this isn't a Persuasion retelling. The only thing the two novels have in common is the former lovers trope. This is its own can of worms. And, uh, it wasn't my favorite. Oh, the main couple was adorable. I felt the chemistry. I looked forward to the Rico POVs. But the romance was heavy-handed. Especially for the last quarter, there would be pages of talking while they hammer out the meaning of love or whatever. And I just glazed over. Similarly, the drama with Ashna's mom, relationship with her other family members, and even the Mom's POVs all felt very...heavy handed. Much like Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors this book loves over-the-top. Every action ripples with intensity. And it is exhausting.
I am a huge Jane Austen fan and was so excited to receive this arc from Edelweiss+. Ashna is the head chef and owner of Curried Dreams, the failing business left to her by her deceased father. She will do anything to save it, including going on a reality cooking show where she will be matched with a celebrity. Low and behold, she gets matched with Rico, her high school ex boyfriend. I really enjoyed the relationship between Rico and Ashna. Both characters were really likable and fun to read about. What I didn’t love about this novel is there was too much family drama that it seemed to overshadow everything else for me. However, Sonali Dev is a talented writer and I would love to read more from her in the future.