"One of my favorite romances of recent years"
For all of those who love romance and are deciding on a unique gift for Valentine’s Day, these South Asian books can make perfect presents.
Individuals with partners who love books or perhaps want to break away from the usual flowers and chocolates can take their pick from these novels.
What makes these special, besides the creative storylines, is the use of South Asian characters and settings.
Additionally, the use of elements like South Asian names, culture, and traditions is refreshing and new.
And, for those who aren’t in a relationship but still want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, you can get lost in these South Asian books to fill that void.
These novels are great for this loving occasion as they focus on romance and relationships but aren’t cliche.
So, see which plot tickles your fancy and try to commemorate this special holiday in a quirky way.
Hostage to Pleasure by Nalini Singh
Hostage to Pleasure is a dark, seductive and psychologically thrilling novel by Nalini Singh.
The Psy/Changeling world is part of a series created by Singh where there is an alternative universe with three races.
These are humans, changelings (who can shapeshift into animals), and Psy (who have mental abilities).
Hostage to Pleasure focuses on Ashaya Aleine, a rebellious and emotionless Psy scientist who is separated from her son.
She’s forced to create an implant that will lead to the enslavement of her race so Ashaya is desperate to escape the PsyNet.
When her chance comes, she runs into Dorian Christensen, a sniper who lost his sister to a Psy killer.
The rage of this loss lies within him and the darkness within Dorian craves vengeance, but falling for a Psy was never in his plans.
Charged with protecting Ashaya and her son, he discovers his inner passion and the light within life.
Grab a copy of Hostage to Pleasure here.
A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Sonali Dev’s novel focuses on Mili Rathod who was promised to marry someone at the age of four.
After going 20 years without seeing her husband, her grandmother allows her to leave India and study in America.
Getting this type of freedom doesn’t usually happen to girls from Mili’s village, so she jumps at the chance to live a modern life.
However, she also craves to become the perfect wife, which is exactly what she wants but forever waits for her husband to come and claim her.
However, his brother, Samir Rathod, a big-time director, comes to Michigan to secure the divorce for his brother.
Trying to charm Mili into signing the papers, Samir gets immersed in her life – escorting her to parties, cooking her rotis, and wondering where his loyalties lie.
Author Nalini Singh gave her opinion of the book, saying:
“One of my favorite romances of recent years.
“It just has so much emotion and heart and it left me with a goofy smile on my face at the end.”
This exploration of modern India and heartfelt look at love is witty and engaging.
Check out A Bollywood Affair here.
She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Zeenat Mahal
One of the most perfect South Asian books for Valentine’s Day is Zeenat Mahal’s She Loves Me, He Loves Me.
Since 10 years old, Zoella has been in love with her best friend’s beautiful older brother, Fardeen Malik.
However, Fardeen has always seen Zoella as a ‘good girl’ and can barely remember her name whenever they interact.
To complicate things more, he’s engaged to a gorgeous socialite who fits in with the high standards of the Malik family. Basically, Zoella has no chance.
But, a sudden brutal accident that disfigures Fardeen means his fiance leaves and finds himself broken out of the fairy tale world he once existed.
In a twist of fate, Zoella finally lands Fardeen but he is far from the perfect man she once saw him as.
Relieved of her illusions, Zoella beats Fardeen at his own game by creating her own twist in this story.
Buy a copy of this modern yet unusual interpretation of the old-age fairy tale here.
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
Meet Winnie Mehta, a woman whose love was written in the stars – quite literally.
A pundit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before turning 18. And her boyfriend of three years, Raj, meets all her expectations, but she does have some concerns.
These doubts get more worrying when Winnie finds Raj hooking up with Jenny Dickens.
What’s worse is that he is then crowned chair of the student film festival, a position that Winnie was working towards to help her for film school.
As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie never really thought Raj was her soulmate, and now as a hopeless romantic, she cannot see her story end like this.
It’s here she meets Dev, a film geek who is smart, and charming and challenges Winnie to look beyond the conventions of love.
But, does falling for Dev mean her prophecy of a happy ever after doesn’t come true?
To get back on track, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie.
Get your hands on this book here.
There’s Something about Sweetie by Sandhya Menon
Ashish is a man down on his luck and believes love is very sucky after getting dumped by his ex-girlfriend.
Having lost his mojo and his parents annoyingly telling him they could find him a better match, Ashish challenges his family to set him up.
Therefore they insist he dates an Indian-American girl under contract.
The terms? Well, he has to take her on “fun” excursions like visiting the temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie
The girl? A formidable track athlete and a loyal friend named Sweetie Nair.
To most, Sweetie is an absolute catch, but to her own parents, Sweetie is lacking because she’s a big girl and needs to lose weight.
Tired of being told about her size, Sweetie decides to show the world and herself what she’s really made of.
Both Ashish and Sweetie have something to prove to their parents and society. But, with each date, they realise there’s this unexpected magic growing that they can’t avoid.
See if they can find their true selves without losing each other here.
Grown-Up Pose by Sonya Lalli
Grown-Up Pose hones in on Anu Desai, a woman in her 30s who is trying to find herself after separating from her husband, Neil.
Neil was Anu’s first serious boyfriend so she has to restart her life and navigate through her pain and sadness.
Sonya Lalli’s novel is more than just romantic fiction. It looks at the issues that can exist within marriage, family dynamics, gender roles and parental relationships.
As well as building things from scratch, readers also witness how Anu dated someone whilst still being married and her new business venture in yoga.
A review left by Jennifer on Goodreads stated:
“Grown-Up Pose addresses some important issues, including finding oneself and juggling the demands of life, while also immersing the reader in an Indian American family.
“There were moments I heartily laughed (much needed!).
“Overall, Grown-Up Pose is a warmhearted, refreshing story, and this was a great time to read it!”
This is the perfect book for more of an elder audience and highlights real and important problems for older women.
It’s a coming-of-age story that emphasises that life is a series of ups and downs, no matter what stage you’re at in life.
Get a copy here.
Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
One of the best South Asian books for Valentine’s Day is this story that focuses on Reena Manji, a single woman who hates her career.
Reena’s family insists on knowing everything about her life which annoys her even more.
But, things go a bit too far when her father employs someone new and moves him in across the hall, hoping he and Reena strike up a relationship.
But, Nadim isn’t like the other Muslim boys Reena’s been introduced to.
His muscular body, British accent and bread-loving appetite make Reena melt. However, she’d never date her father’s employee.
Things get riskier when Reena and Nadim fake an engagement to enter a couples video cooking contest to win the bread course of Reena’s dreams.
Cooking at home together brings the pair closer together and even gets physical. But, Nadim can keep a secret, right? Their gossiping families won’t find out, right?
See how this tale of risk and romance evolves here.
The Singles Table by Sara Desai
Sara Desai’s The Singles Table is the perfect hot and steamy novel for those craving a spicy story.
The plot surrounds Zara Patel, a lawyer from San Francisco and military security specialist Jay Dayal who meet at a bachelor/bachelorette party.
But, sparks don’t fly straight away and the pair actually despise each other.
They both see characteristics in the other which put them off. For Jay, he thinks Zara is loud and brash. For Zara, she thinks Jay is arrogant and has a big ego.
But, as their paths cross each other constantly through the wedding activities, Zara aims to find Jay “the one”. In return, he’ll introduce her to his celebrity clients.
But, Zara’s happy-go-lucky nature begins to rub off on Jay and it’s evident “the one” isn’t as far as Jay may think.
Desai does amazing at creating this comedic yet real atmosphere where the sexual tension and chemistry of the two protagonists are far too relatable.
Get a copy for someone here.
A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli
South Asian books don’t get more beautiful than A Holly Jolly Diwali which captures the romance of Valentine’s Day in abundance.
The story is about 29-year-old Niki Randawa, a data analyst who has recently lost her job, and 30-year-old London musician, Sameer Mukherji.
The backdrop of the novel is the festival of Diwali, and the fireworks certainly go off during their relationship.
A chance encounter at a mutual friend’s wedding starts their journey together.
And, for a girl who constantly does the “right thing”, Niki spontaneously leaves home in Seattle to meet Sameer in London.
But, she’s faced with a major decision – take a job back in America or explore her connection with her newfound love.
A Holly Jolly Diwali does incredibly well at shining a light on India, Diwali, and self-discovery, making it a highly enjoyable read.
Experience the novel here.
The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim
The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim has been described as “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets Pride and Prejudice“.
It tells the story of a Bangladeshi teen, Zahra Khan, whose meddling mother arranges a match for her to secure financial security.
In her plans, Zahra wanted to work all summer in order to save up for college writing courses, but her mother thinks all she needs is a “good match”.
Enter Harun Emon, a rich and handsome man who Zahra instantly dislikes and thinks is a bad match.
Her heart is elsewhere with Nayim Aktar, a dishwasher who understands Zahra in a way that no one else does.
When Zahra finds out that Harun is just as uninterested in this potential relationship as she is, they decide to sabotage their family’s plans.
But with her feelings all mixed up, Zahra quickly realises that being a good Bengali child comes with pain.
A fan of the book Adiba Jaigirdar, emphasise why this is such a must-read:
“The characters in this book are Sylheti and speak Sylheti. How cool is it to see Sylheti on the page? I never thought I’d see the day.
“Bangladeshi culture is written here with so much love and nuance.”
“I saw so much of my own parents in Zahra’s Amma; from the way she speaks, and the things she says, to the way she expresses her love and care for her children.”
South Asian books don’t get much more cultural than this.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day with these incredible novels that will leave you flipping through pages in a hurry.
These South Asian books make amazing gifts for anyone and can also be a great present for yourself.
Getting lost in your own romantic story on Valentine’s is ideal, but having another journey to explore is equally satisfying.
So, check these novels out and see which one you like best.