Book Reviews: The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, The Fastest Way to Fall & What if you & me

These three reviews are all continuations and series follow-ups of books I was obsessed with during 2020 or 2021: The Henna Artist, How to Fail at Flirting and Yes & I Love You. So Expectations were high, lets see how they measured up.

The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi

Goodreads blurb: It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr. Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema. Malik soon finds that not much has changed as he navigates the Pink City of his childhood. Power and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favors flow from Jaipur’s Royal Palace, but only if certain secrets remain buried. When the cinema’s balcony tragically collapses on opening night, blame is placed where it is convenient. But Malik suspects something far darker and sets out to uncover the truth. As a former street child, he always knew to keep his own counsel; it’s a lesson that will serve him as he untangles a web of lies. In New York Times bestselling author Alka Joshi’s intriguing new novel, henna artist Lakshmi arranges for her protégé, Malik, to intern at the Jaipur Palace in this tale rich in character, atmosphere, and lavish storytelling.

my take: 3.25 out of 5. i was late getting into the Henna Artist praise, but i was a total fan and has been one of my few 5 stars this year. So i was very excited once i finished it to know that a sequel was coming out very soon. I downloaded this as soon as it was out and was very excited. However as most sequels its not as good as the original. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it and it wasa wonderful book, it just didn’t fulfill me the same way the Henna Artist did. What i liked: Malik is a super interesting character and i loved that the sequel was based on him. Also *light spoiler alert* I loved that the Singhs get some sort of karmic retribution

What i didn’t love: First, I think the book spends too much time rehashing what happened in Henna Artist, which makes sense for new readers but it becomes repetitive for past readers and takes time for further character and story development. Also the plot wasn’t as engaging as the original. Although an interesting concept, it was fairly straightforward and not as engaging. And third, I think there is always a character I have to dislike and this time it had to be Nimmi. Although i did grow to dislike her less by the end, I never got Why malik loved her which kind of ruins part of the story.

The Fastest way to Fall by Denise Williams

Goodreads blurb: Britta Colby works for a lifestyle website, and when tasked to write about her experience with a hot new body-positive fitness app that includes personal coaching, she knows it’s a major opportunity to prove she should write for the site full-time. As CEO of the FitMe app, Wes Lawson finally has the financial security he grew up without, but despite his success, his floundering love life and complicated family situation leaves him feeling isolated and unfulfilled. He decides to get back to what he loves—coaching. Britta’s his first new client and they click immediately. As weeks pass, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys experimenting with her exercise routine. He’s surprised at how much he looks forward to talking to her every day. They convince themselves their attraction is harmless, but when they start working out in person, Wes and Britta find it increasingly challenging to deny their chemistry and maintain a professional distance.Wes isn’t supposed to be training clients, much less meeting with them, and Britta’s credibility will be sunk if the lifestyle site finds out she’s practically dating the fitness coach she’s reviewing. Walking away from each other is the smartest thing to do, but running side by side feels like the start of something big.  ( This in an ARC review, thanks to a gift from the publisher. It comes out Nov 2nd, 2021)

my take: 4.75 out of 5. I adored this book. I usually do not read ARC copies so far out from publication date, but I read How to Fail at Flirting earlier this year and absolutely adored it, so when i got this copy It was the feel good story I needed to dive into yesterday. And yesterday it was as I read this in one sitting during the afternoon, I could not put i down. I had high expectations, and unlike some of the other follow up books that didn’t measure up, this one did. I might have liked it even more than How to Fail at Flirting! I think I loved it so much because I totally related to the character and I loved the authors into and presentation to the book. as A plus size person myself I could totally relate on how great having representation is. And Also the story is fabulous, the characters are great and I loved it all. An adorable and quite perfect chick lit read. Do we know what’s going to happen – of course predictable it is and that’s why its doesn’t get a 5 star review, but within my very liked predictable chick lit genre it made my heart happy.

What if You and Me by Roni Loren

Goodreads blurb: The world can be a scary place. At least, that’s what Andi Lockley’s anxiety wants her to believe. It doesn’t help that she narrowly escaped a dangerous man years ago, or that every relationship since has been colored with that lingering fear. But things are better now―she’s channeling everything into her career as a horror novelist and true crime podcaster, and her next book may be the breakthrough she needs. If only her grumpy new neighbor would stop stomping around at all hours of the night. Former firefighter Hill Dawson can’t sleep. After losing part of his leg in a rescue gone wrong, he’s now stuck in limbo. He needs to figure out what he’s supposed to do with his life, and he can’t let himself get distracted by the pretty redhead next door. But when someone breaks into Andi’s place, Hill can’t stop himself from rushing in to play the hero. Soon, a tentative bond forms between the unlikely pair. But what starts out as a neighborly exchange quickly turns into the chance for so much more…if Andi can learn to put aside her fear and trust in herself―and love―again.

( This in an ARC review, thanks to a gift from the publisher. It comes out July 13th, 2021)

my take: 3.25 out of 5. When I read Yes & I Loved You, the first in this series, i really enjoyed it (as i expressed here in the blog), so I was so excited to get a copy of this audiobook to continue the story. Although thoroughly enjoyable and a sweet romance, I was a bit disappointed, as it didn’t meet expectations. It didn’t hit the mark as much. I really enjoyed that the author continues the trend of featuring romance of people with disabilities/anxieties, a representations that is not as prevalent and which is admirable, and should continue. However on the downside, I wasn’t as engaged with the characters this time around, and Hill was just quite aggravating. As with the first book, its quite steamy so be prepared, its not the light rom com fare you expect from the cover. Sidenote: the analysis of rom coms and horror movies in the book is brilliant. As a rom com obsessed person I hadn’t seen that and it made me laugh. I heard this through audiobook and though the narrator was great for most of it, her male voice was a bit grating.

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