Ever since Vale’s debut, Small Town Hearts, Lillie Vale has been an auto-buy author! Vale has such a way with characters who so completely steal your heart. That basically wrap you in their arms until you finish the book. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts on Vale’s adult romance debut!
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….
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
2021 is the year of second chance romances for me. I’m calling it. This is my favorite trope this year because every one I’ve read has me swooning. I love the idea of “The One That Got Away” crashing back into your life. Of high school sweethearts who soured. The Shaadi Set-Up is entirely precious. And while the second chance romance angle had me swooning, I also appreciated Rita’s reflections about her other relationships. About relationships we find ourselves in, that never feel right, but where we silence the voice in our heads.
That we just sort of stumble into and aren’t even sure how to break that routine. For me, that felt so relatable to me. And then Vale delivers this second chance romance storyline which totally swept in to steal my heart. Rita’s passion and the way she throws herself into things makes her such a fabulous character. Combined with the tension between her and Milan? The tension and banter were *chef’s kiss*. Another element I loved which specifically had to do with the second chance romance, is Vale’s acknowledgement that we can’t fall back into it.
That the people we’ve become since then are there to stay. We don’t just revert back to who we were, because that schism, those people we grew into, are who we are. All in all, The Shaadi Set-Up is a fun and entertaining read. It’s about the fact that love takes work. That we ourselves need to acknowledge the changes within us.
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