Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.
But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.
As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.
- Title: Accidentally Engaged
- Author: Farah Heron
- Publisher: Forever
- Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
- Source: Netgalley
- Genre: Contemporary, Adult, Romance, Rom Com
- Age Range: Adult
- Trigger warnings: Emotionally abusive / toxic parents, mentions of cancer / death of a family member, parental death, parental abandonment, depression, eating disorder, complicated family dynamics, alcoholism
- Rating: ★★★★☆
Reading Accidentally Engaged made me incredibly hungry. In all honesty, it’s the perfect quarantine book. A cooking competition where all entries are video-taped, where we get to know far too much about our neighbors? Like most other people, baking bread has become a quarantine hobby in my family. When I first heard about Accidentally Engaged, which has fake dating (or rather, fake engagement) I instantly added it to be TBR. But when you add into account a Great British Bake Off setting? It instantly shot up to the top of my TBR list.
Accidentally Engaged follows Reena Manji, who is to say the least, a little unlucky. With twelve failed relationships, and a pattern of being laid off every time her workplace downsizes, Reena has found herself turning to cooking (and baking) as a coping mechanism. As our heroine, I found Reena to be someone I could easily sympathize with and someone I really wanted as a friend. After all, all those baked goods, coupled with her witty humor, kind heart, and loyalty?
One of my favorite things about Accidentally Engaged was how there were so many different types of love mentioned, and how they’re all important. Self-love, platonic love, and familial love are just as valid and important as romantic love.
While Accidentally Engaged is a romance at heart, I loved reading about Reena’s journey to finding herself and building a life that she loved. I found it empowering to watch her have honest and open conversations with her family. While I’m Chinese, I found the dynamics in my family (more specifically, my extended family) to be similar to that of Reena’s. There’s a lot of secrecy, a lot of concerns about one’s reputation, a lot of comparing yourself with others, and a whole lot of love.
From the get-go, we’re instantly given the impression that Reena’s job isn’t something she’s passionate about. Rather, she’s simply biding her time there. We’ve all stayed at jobs that we don’t love for one reason or another; a temporary place — maybe we’re content with being happy enough or maybe we’re doing it to spite someone. In Reena’s case, she doesn’t want to be involved in the family business and wants to make her life hers, not her parents’.
I loved Reena’s friends — Shane, Marley, and Amira. They all so clearly had her back and wanted the best for her, even if they weren’t there in person, or if they didn’t agree with all her choices. Their unwavering support, and their funny quips made them a true delight. Figuring out how you want your life to be like is an incredibly difficult process, and I’m so glad that Reena had such a strong support system to help her get there.
Our love interest, Nadim, was everything. He’s charming, he’s thoughtful, he’s sweet. He’s got his secrets, but who hasn’t? I found the little moments between Nadim and Reena adorable, and they had so much chemistry. There was a specific moment in Accidentally Engaged that reminded me of Ted and Alexis from Schitt’s Creek and it just made my heart soft.
Overall, I found Accidentally Engaged to be an easy and wonderful read, and one that made me incredibly hungry! I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun read — as long as you have some snacks next to you!
After a childhood raised on Bollywood, Monty Python, and Jane Austen, Farah Heron wove complicated story arcs and uplifting happily ever afters in her daydreams while pursuing careers in human resources and psychology. She started writing those stories down a few years ago, and never looked back. She writes romantic comedies and women’s fiction full of huge South Asian families, delectable food, and most importantly, brown people falling stupidly in love. She lives in Toronto with her husband, two children, and a rabbit named Strawberry. She recently adopted two cats, who are now in charge.