Lakshmi Sen was born with a magical ability to perceive the secret longings in others. Putting aside her own dreams to help run her widowed mother's struggling Seattle sari shop, Mystic Elegance, Lakshmi knows exactly how to bring happiness to customers -- from lonely immigrants to starry-eyed young brides. And to honor her father's dying wish, she has agreed to marry a respectable Indian doctor who will uphold her family's traditions. But when a famous Indian actress chooses Mystic Elegance to provide her wedding trousseau, Lakshmi finds herself falling for the actress's sexy chauffeur -- all-American Nick Dunbar -- and her powers seem to desert her just as she needs them most. As Nick draws Lakshmi into his world, however, new dreams awaken in her, and she begins to uncover deeper, startling longings in her mother, her friends, her fiance, and even herself.
I was so excited to hear about this author. I love light and fluffy books with magical realism. A book set in a sari shop by an ownvoices author sounded wonderful.
Lakshmi Sen is visited by the goddess Lakshmi in utero and given a gift of being able to know what people want. She is also made incredibly beautiful but is warned to hide that beauty for reasons that aren’t clear. It is never really discussed after the first part of the story either.
She co-owns a sari shop with her mother. She can tell what customers truly need when they come in. She’s developing a reputation for it. That draws a Bollywood actress to the store for her wedding outfits. But Lakshmi’s gift disappears when she enters the store with her driver.
This is the where the book started to lose me. The driver, Nick, is the guy we are supposed to root for in the story. But he doesn’t seem to offer anything good to Lakshmi. Just his presence is harming her. She loses customers when he is around because she is unable to do her job.
There is colorism in this book. An elderly customer comes in to the store and starts talking about how she uses skin lightening cream. It could almost be dismissed as the fancy of a woman who is a ridiculous character but it isn’t pointed out as such. Then later a woman is being described as ugly and part of the description is how her skin is so dark. Later, the elderly woman from the shop is complimented and she says that the skin lightening cream is working.
Nick makes several casually racist comments to Lakshmi that aren’t commented on. He invites her to meet his family. He says that his sister would love to try on saris because she likes “ethnic clothes.” I was like, “Excuse me?” but nothing is mentioned about it in the story. Then when he gets there his mother “compliments” Lakshmi by telling her that she looks so exotic. Yeah. Then he all but orders her to forget about her trip to India to meet the man her mother wants her to marry. On the basis of what? They barely know each other and she’s supposed to give up all previous plans for him? This guy seems like a control freak that she should get away from quickly.
The book never redeemed Nick for me. It tried but he is still interfering with her work even though the book tried to spin it more positively.
Let’s count this one as an ‘I read it so you don’t have to’ book.
About Anjali Banerjee
“I was born in India, raised in Canada and California, and I now live in the Pacific Northwest, in a cottage in the woods, with my husband and five rescued cats.“
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
“According to a magazine, Susie is a ‘Leftover’ – a post Bridget-Jones 30 something who has neither her dream man, job, nor home. She doesn’t even own six matching dinner plates. According to her friend Rebecca, Susie needs to get over her ex, Jake, start online dating – or at least stop being so rude to every guy who tries to chat her up. But Susie’s got a plan. If she can just make it the 307 days till her promotion and bonus, she can finally quit and pursue her dream career in food, then surely everything else will fall into place.”
Susie is a girl after my own heart. She has a theory that every type of emotional turmoil can be cured by the application of just the right type of pasta.
She spends her days writing advertising copy for a company that doesn’t appreciate her. She’s counting the days until her promised promotion is here. With the bonus money she makes, she is leaving that job and going into food full time. In the meantime she is muddling through and obsessively watching her ex’s new girlfriend’s Instagram feed.
This is chick lit at its finest. The cover is even pink. I love books that combine food and a hint of romance.
The ending is one that any blogger will find themselves laughing out loud over (because it is so delightfully improbable but fun to imagine.)
There are also recipes for lots of types of pasta to full any need in your life.
“When Ellie Hall lands her dream job running the little teashop in the beautiful but crumbling Claverham Castle, it’s the perfect escape from her humdrum job in the city. Life is definitely on the rise as Ellie replaces spreadsheets for scones, and continues her Nanna’s brilliant baking legacy.
When Lord Henry, the stick-in-the-mud owner, threatens to burst her baking bubble with his old-fashioned ways, Ellie wonders if she might have bitten off more than she can chew.”
Ellie has always wanted to bake for a living but her parents have encouraged her to get a steady and reliable job. Now she has a chance to run a seasonal tea shop in a castle in the northeast part of England. She is even allowed to live in – a fact that horrifies her mother. She doesn’t see how Ellie will survive in a remote area that is *gasp* over an hour drive from her parents’ house. Ah, bless the British and their warped sense of distance. It always makes me laugh in books when they discussed drives that Americans would do without thought to go to a restaurant as epic adventures requiring careful planning lest disaster fall upon them.
The owner of the castle isn’t a fan of business or of letting people come traipsing around his family home. He needs the money to keep the place up though. The castle isn’t a huge tourist attraction so keeping it afloat and learning how to make a small tea shop profitable isn’t easy.
Soon Ellie is scraping by and mostly eating left over pastries for every meal. She doesn’t want to admit to her parents that things aren’t going well. She determined to make a go of her little tea shop.
I couldn’t sleep one night and downloaded and read this book all in one sitting. It was sweet and cute. It was perfect for a light read. I would recommend this for any chick lit or light romance fans or anyone who ever dreamed of quitting their job and cooking for a living.
I’m jealous of British high tea. You can’t get anything like it around here. I torture myself by following Kelly Michelle on Twitter. She has gluten free high tea a lot. I just look at her pictures and drool. I’m going to Washington DC in July and you can get afternoon tea at a few of the fancy hotels. I’m taking the opportunity while I’m there.
When Kelly Madigan is offered a job abroad right after reading a letter from her late mother urging her to take more risks, she sees it as a sign. Kelly’s new ghostwriting assignment means moving to London to work for Natasha Spencer--movie star, lifestyle guru, and wife of a promising English politician. As it turns out, Natasha is also selfish, mercurial, and unwilling to let any actual food past her perfect lips.
Still, in between testing dozens of kale burgers and developing the perfect chocolate mousse, Kelly is having adventures. Some are glamorous; others, like her attraction to her boss’s neglected husband, are veering out of control. Kelly knows there’s no foolproof recipe for a happy life. But how will she know if she’s gone too far in reaching for what she wants?
So I couldn’t sleep one night and finished what I was reading. I looked for something to download from the library -because I don’t have a bunch of unread books just sitting on my iPad?? Anyway, I wanted something new and this fit the bill. Good for Foodies Read and light. I ended up staying up most of the night to read it.
Kelly’s life is undergoing some major changes. Her mother just died. She left Kelly a letter with her wishes for her. One of the main ones was to move out of the Midwest and take some chances with her life. When the opportunity comes to move to London for a year to ghost write a cookbook for a movie star she jumps at the chance even though it means breaking up with her long term boyfriend (also on her mother’s list of things for her to do).
When she gets to England she discovers that superstar Natasha doesn’t really want anything to do with the cookbook. She wants Kelly to come up with recipes from her vague descriptions of meals she remembers but doesn’t really even want to taste the food. The only person who does like the food is Natasha’s husband Hugh. This leads to flirting and then major attraction. He insists that he and Natasha have a marriage in name only but should Kelly believe him?
I really enjoyed this book. There are recipes in the back for some of the food discussed. I wish there had been a recipe for the kale burgers that she struggles to make for most of the book only to have them dismissed by Natasha every time. “Not green enough,” etc.
I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.