From the publisher:
In this witty and heartfelt rom-com debut for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Emily Henry, and Tessa Bailey, an Indian American woman signs herself and her boyfriend up for a matchmaking site to prove they’re a perfect match, only to be paired with her ex instead.
High school sweethearts Rita Chitniss and Milan Rao were the golden couple, until the day he broke her heart. Now, six years later, Rita has turned her passion for furniture restoration into a career and has an almost-perfect boyfriend, Neil. The last thing she needs is for Milan to re-enter her life, but that’s exactly what happens when her mother, an unfailing believer in second chances, sets them up. Milan is just as charming, cocky, and confident as he was back in school. Only this time, he actually needs her business expertise, not her heart, to flip a hard-to-sell house for his realty agency.
While Rita begrudgingly agrees to help, she’s not taking any risks. To prove she’s definitely over him, she signs herself and Neil up on MyShaadi.com, a Desi matchmaking site famous for its success stories and trustworthy enough to convince everyone that she and Neil are the new and improved couple. Instead, she’s shocked when MyShaadi’s perfect match for her isn’t Neil…it’s Milan. Ignoring the website and her mother is one thing, but ignoring Milan proves much more difficult, especially when she promises to help him renovate the beach house of her dreams. And as the two of them dive deeper into work—and their pasts—Rita begins to wonder if maybe her match wasn’t so wrong after all….
Milan dumped Rita in a voicemail while she was flying to meet him for their trip to Europe during college. He never shows and she is heartbroken, but determined to go on their trip anyway. Six years later, Rita met Neil on Tinder and they hit it off. It’s been a few months of him spending the night a couple of times a week. But his life is ruled by his mother, and she wants him to find a wife, an Indian wife.
In a weird coincidence, Rita’s mom was a young woman when she fell in love with a man. But his family arranged a marriage for him and he broke her heart. Rita thinks her mother never got over him, and it turns out Neil’s father is that man. Rita doesn’t want to get any more involved with Neil that what they already are; he has marriage on his mind. She finally figures out that she can make this all public if the Indian marriage/dating app matches her with Neil. They coordinate their answers, but the 100% match for her is not Neil, it’s Milan.
Meanwhile, Neil’s mother “wrestles” his password to the app from him (she asks him for it) and starts arranging dates for him with the women from the site. And he goes. Rita is pissed but doesn’t really care and isn’t the least bit jealous. And Rita’s mom conspires with Milan’s mom to bring them back together. He is a very successful real estate agent, and she loves decorating and woodworking – she takes other people’s junk and turns the junk into treasures.
Milan has been sitting with a listing for this ultra-modern house for close to a year. No one wants it. So when the moms decide that Rita can fix up the place so he can sell it, they both agree to give it a try. It is very successful, and the house sells almost immediately for above list price. Milan had purchased an old B&B on the beach and has been renovating it to flip. He asks Rita to do the decorating and she agrees. The more time they spend together, the more they both realize that they are still in love. But Rita is leery; she knows she’s not the same girl he fell in love with, and she wants to make sure they are both going into this with their eyes wide open.
This was a really fun read. The families lent a lot of humor to the story, and the characters were all interesting and believable. I am looking forward to her next book – this was a debut novel (for adults; she writes children’s books, too!)
9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE SHAADI SET-UP by Lillie Vale. G.P. Putnam’s Sons (September 7, 2021). ISBN: 978-0593328712. 368 pages.