Books,  Reviews

Karma Under Fire

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Synopsis

When Harlow Kennedy, an aspiring jewelry maker, meets Tej Mayur, the “it” chef of Atlanta’s hottest new Indian restaurant, on a flight from Atlanta to Delhi, sparks fly. Unfortunately, Tej’s nuptials are already being arranged by his privileged East Indian family, and Harlow is not Indian. A modern day Mississippi Masala, Karma Under Fire tells the story of two young people’s search for love while they navigate the uncertain path between passion and tradition.

On the other side of the world, the parents of Tej Mayur, the hottest restauranteur in the hottest city in the South, are fretting about their son’s unmarried status. They summon him home.

When Harlow and Tej find themselves seated together on the long flight to New Delhi, sparks fly. Then they touch down at Indira Gandhi International and flee one another’s company – or so they think.

Karma Under Fire is the first novel by promising new writer Love Hudson-Maggio.

Synopsis source: Goodreads

What pattern is that?
Pictured with the book in this photo is a blanket I made using the granite stitch (AKA moss stitch or linen stitch). For a tutorial on this stitch, click here.

Review

Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Romance, India
HB&W Rating: 2.5
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This was a sweet story and a quick read. It is a romance with new adult characters written in more of what I’d call a young adult style. All very PG and chaste. While I liked it and was interested in what happened enough to keep reading, I struggled with some aspects of it for sure.

I enjoyed learning about Indian culture through the characters in this story. The descriptions of the food alone were so richly written, it was like I could taste it. I think one of the most surprising things I learned from this book is how the caste system is still alive and well in India even today and how lack of mobility between classes has made for an especially wide gap in the economic status between them. Harlow arriving at the airport illustrated this very well, I thought. I also found it astonishing that polio wasn’t eradicated there until within the last decade. Books like this one help give readers new perspective when they are far removed from alternate realities.

Helping with some cultural references, there were footnotes in the copy I was provided with, which I understand have been removed in the newer updated copy that is available now (the updated version also includes an author’s note, recipes, and discussion questions). I found some of the footnotes helpful when reading the story, but others were redundant or altogether unnecessary, so it’s probably for the best that they were removed. On a similar editing note, there were several inconsistencies spotted throughout that made this difficult to follow at times. I’m still not sure what Tej’s driver’s name was and Amar was Amir at one point, and I wasn’t sure if Harlow was Black, Indian, or a mix until it was explained about halfway through or more. In a book where race and culture play as big a part as they do in this book, I think that should be clear from the beginning.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Tej at first, who showed himself to be the kind of guy to sleep with a friend’s fiancé as well as incredibly vain and arrogant. He has some redeeming qualities in his love for his family, his respect for his culture and heritage, his work ethic, and his compassion towards those who have less than himself. He does seem go have some character growth by the end of the book, though.

Harlow, for me, was the opposite of Tej in character growth, she went backwards. I found her criticism of her mother harsh considering the marriage proposal she was considering was leading her down the same path. And she kept claiming to be a strong, independent woman capable of making it on her own, but her solution to losing her job was marrying for money. Even her trip to India for her friend’s wedding was paid for by her friend’s parents. She does come across as a strong woman and high moral fiber and I liked how she stood up for herself, I just wish we got to see more of her “independence.” Also, I didn’t understand why Harlow reacted the way she did to Tej at the end of the book if she was honest when she claimed she realized what happened and was just too embarrassed to face him. She disappointed me there.

The end of the book felt a little too easily finished to me. While I was glad Harlow and her mom worked things out in the end, there was no real build up to that turnabout and it felt kind of like an afterthought. I would have liked to have seen that fleshed out a bit more. Along the same lines, it felt odd to suddenly get Sophia’s perspective in the last 15% of the book. I think some of these aspects could have been worked out with additional editing, fleshing out some of the story and characters.

All in all, this was okay, especially since I know it is the author’s first book. I hope she continues to write stories like this one that speak out on socioeconomic and cultural issues and intersectionality, as I believe she can offer a unique perspective.

Thank you to the author for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Until next time,

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