When a business proposal turns very personal…
Rule #1: Don’t fall for the client.
Because he’ll rock your world…
Architect Rani Gupta will never let a man compromise her career or freedom again. Which is a problem now that her newest client is irresistible hotelier Arjun Singh—aka the sexiest bachelor in India. A little fling with this gorgeous man would be scandal enough. But a fake engagement might just be more trouble than they bargained for—especially if Arjun has a prior arrangement!
Author: Sophia Singh Sasson
Series: Nights at the Mahal #1
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Format: Kindle ARC
No. of Pages: 224
Date of Publication: August 1, 2020
My Rating: 4 Stars
Wealth, family duty and honor might be what keeps hotelier Arjun Singh from fulfilling his heart's desire - being with a woman that brings his heart joy. Arjun is in Las Vegas while his luxury hotel is being built. Working along with architect and designer Rani Gupta definitely has its challenges. They are drawn to one another, but as far as Arjun is concerned, he is engaged in an arranged marriage. Duty must win out over his heart.
Meanwhile, Rani has her own issues that are also part of her culture. She is a divorced woman, something that, as a woman raised by traditional Indian parents, is frowned upon, even here in America. It is so taboo that Rani has become estranged from them. So, her career is everything to her. It doesn't take long for Arjun and Rani to find each other irresistible. However, they both are more than aware that their cultures and responsibilities might forever keep them apart.
Admittedly while reading this book I struggled to see why it got the title Marriage by Arrangement. I imagined that it was due to the fact that Arjun was to have a pre-arranged marriage that the title sort of fit. Other than that one thing that kept me scratching my head, I did find the story to be enjoyable. As a reader, it is always good to read about different cultures, even in a fictionalized romance story.
This delightful story is the first I have read by Sophia Singh Sasson, but it certainly won't be my last. I was fully engaged as it was interesting to see how Arjun and Rani would overcome the obstacles facing them. I look forward to more books in this series.
Many thanks to Harlequin Desire and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
Please enjoy the following excerpt:
Excerpt, MARRIAGE BY ARRANGEMENT by Sophia Singh Sasson***“Are you okay?” Rani asked.The changing stage lights threw seductive shadows across her face, and he felt himself gazing into her dark eyes. He’d always thought she was beautiful but tonight she looked spectacular. He knew she wasn’t wearing a designer dress, and if he had to guess, she probably hadn’t spent all day at the beauty salon getting her hair and makeup done. Yet she looked more stunning than any woman he’d ever met. Those heels that she clearly hated showed off her long, shapely legs and the way her hair framed her face made him want to weave his fingers into it. She was looking at him with such intensity, it seemed she could see into his soul.“Just family drama,” he said, surprising himself. He pulled his hand away from hers before he was tempted to take things further. Last night when he’d said good-bye in the car, he’d felt such an urgent need to kiss her that he’d almost canceled their plans tonight. He prided himself on always being in control.He took a sip of the neat whiskey he’d ordered, hop-ing the raw burn down his throat would bring him back to his senses and shake loose an idea on how to deal with his family.“Tell me about it.” Rani leaned in close to him, and he caught a whiff of her vanilla scent.Where do I start? With Divya or Hema? Hema was a not a problem to solve. She was an obligation he had to come to terms with. “My sister Divya has been offered a job in Jaipur and wants to take it, but that’s not done in our family.”“Why not?”He shifted in his chair.“What I mean is, what is your parents’ specific concern beyond the fact that it’s not the tradition?The parampara?”He looked at her in surprise. She gets it.“I think they fear that if she’s financially independent, she won’t follow the house rules.” Even as he said the words, he realized how horrible it sounded. “You have to understand that my parents are doing what they think is best for her.”“They’re trying to control her.”“They are trying to protect her.”“I don’t think we’ll agree on that point. So what do you plan to do?”“I’m thinking of secretly increasing her allowance. That way she can buy what she wants without having to ask my parents’ permission. That’s how this whole job thing started. She wanted to buy a car for herself and they questioned her spending.”Rani shook her head. “You’re not understanding her.” He frowned. While he wanted Rani’s perspective, she didn’t know Divya. Arjun talked to Divya almost every day. How could Rani be so confident in saying he didn’t understand his sister?“Divya doesn’t want to work just to buy things. She wants to work to have a sense of purpose, of independence. To do something meaningful with her life. I don’t think you can appreciate what it’s like for an intelligent person to sit at home all day with nothing to do. It’s maddening.”“She has lots of things to do. There is staff to man-age, social events to plan, charity work. My mother is always complaining about how busy she is.”“But those aren’t things that satisfy a young, educated woman who doesn’t want to be a socialite. She wants do something that is uniquely hers, and have control over some aspect of her life.”It seems you’re speaking from personal experience.” She nodded. “My ex-husband’s family didn’t have your kind of wealth but they were comfortable. My in-laws asked me to quit my job, which I foolishly did. My days were filled with shopping and social events that I couldn’t care less about. I’m guessing your sister lives a similar life. Working is not about the money, it’s about independence. Of the many things I lost during my marriage, the one I lament the most is my career. I was almost at the point of making senior architect at RKS when I left. After the divorce, I had to start at the bottom of the junior level because I’d been out of the game so long. Divya doesn’t want to become obsolete.”Arjun spread his hands. “So what do you suggest I do? My mother will not agree to let her get a job. I’ve already tried to convince her and she is firm on this point.”“What is Divya qualified to do?”“She studied law.”Rani chewed her lip, and he found himself staring at her. “Your business is big enough that you surely need lawyers.”He nodded. “Of course. I have a couple in every city that we have a hotel.”“So hire her for your legal team in the Jaipur office.” “Jaipur is an hour away from our home.”“Do you do the commute?”He rubbed his neck. It could work. “We have a trusted driver who could take her every day.”It was a nice idea. His brother, Sameer, had no interest in working for the family business, and Arjun could use a trusted person to take on some of the responsibilities of the company while he was in Vegas. He was tired of having to wake up in the middle of the night to get on the phone with someone in India.“It’s a potential solution. Thank you, Rani.”The crowd became louder as the warm-up act wrapped up and introduced Russell Peters. Rani started laughing at one of the jokes. Arjun hadn’t heard it. All he could focus on was the way her mouth crinkled, and the happy sound of her giggles and laughter. He’d been with a fair number of women in the last several years; all of them had been socialites who clearly understood that he wasn’t looking for an emotional attachment. His relationships were always physical. None of them had made him want to connect emotionally like this.“Am I really more amusing than the comedian?” Rani turned to him, grinning.He smiled sheepishly. “You certainly are more beautiful.”Her eyes widened and her mouth opened slightly. He took a breath to keep from leaning over and kissing her irresistible lips. As if reading his mind, she suddenly snapped her head back towards the stage. He took a long slug from his glass of whiskey.So what if we work together? The project would be over in less than six months and he’d be returning to India to a lifetime of obligation. If she was attracted to him too, what was wrong with a brief affair? He knew how to be discreet; he would protect Rani, and make sure there would be no fallout for her at RKS. After all, what happened in Vegas could stay in Vegas.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Author website: https://sophiasasson.com/