REVIEW: Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

When it comes to bread, Reena Manji knows exactly what she’s doing. She treats her sourdough starters like (somewhat unruly) children. But when it comes to Reena’s actual family—and their constant meddling in her life—well, that recipe always ends in disaster.

Now Reena’s parents have found her yet another potential Good Muslim Husband. This one has the body of Captain America, a delicious British accent, and lives right across the hall. He’s the perfect, mouthwatering temptation… and completely ruined by the unwelcome side dish of parental interference.

Reena refuses to marry anyone who works for her father. She won’t be attracted to Nadim’s sweet charm or gorgeous lopsided smile. That is, until the baking opportunity of a lifetime presents itself: a couples’ cooking competition with the prize of her dreams. Reena will do anything to win—even asking Nadim to pretend they’re engaged. But when it comes to love, baking your bread doesn’t always mean you get to eat it too.

My thoughts

This book immediately caught my attention, with both its Fake Relationship angle (my favorite!) and its Canadian setting (Toronto). With a vibrant cast of characters all living in the same apartment building, I can totally see this as book one in a series where each of Reena’s family and friends populating the complex get their own books, but let’s start with Reena, our heroine.

Reena is living in an apartment building that her father owns, which is a bit of a compromise with her strict Tanzanian-born Muslim parents, who would otherwise prefer she live at home until they can marry her off. Reena, naturally, doesn’t want anything to do with an arranged marriage; she’s a modern Canadian woman, after all, and she needs her privacy from each of the four other family members that are constantly trying to insert themselves in her life (okay, her brother isn’t really meddling, but that’s probably only because he and his wife are currently expecting their first baby, BUT I DIGRESS).

Reena loves baking bread and cooking, and used to run a well-known food blog – until her sister, Saira, managed to completely screw things up for her by posting a rant in the comments section. Instead of going ballistic on her sister, though, Reena sucks it up and pretends it never happened, which not only means she tanks her own career opportunities (her dream is to write a cookbook), but she also harbors resentment against her sis, who isn’t even remotely aware that she’s created this mess or that Reena hates her for it.

Dammit, Reena!

On the plus side, Reena recognizes she has a problem, and when her sister attempts to mend the relationship she can see is clearly off-track (even if she’s not totally sure why), she manages to confide in Saira. I loved this whole subplot, even if Saira is kind of a self-absorbed jerk, because she really is trying, and I saw a lot of myself and my own sister in this frustrating relationship.

But let’s get to the real meat of this book: NADIM.

I loved Reena and Nadim’s chemistry, as well as the million-and-one reasons why she absolutely, positively, 110% will NOT be marrying this man – despite the fact that her parents are trying their best to set them up for an arranged marriage, and she (not so) secretly falls in love with him.

Nadim is a TASTY SNACK, by all of Reena’s thirsty descriptions of his “brown Captain America” good looks, and he is also a bit of a freak for feet. He’s also sleeping in Reena’s childhood bed since he’s new in town (and to Canada at large, for that matter), and Reena’s family has lent him a bunch of furniture, which causes some very funny hemming and hawing over whether it would be appropriate to sleep with him in said bed.

Not only that, but the man loves bread. Fresh-baked, homemade, sourdough bread. He is already in love with Reena before he meets her, because of the smells emanating from her apartment. For all the single ladies who spent their quarantines perfecting their bread game, I can highly recommend this book for Nadim – the man of your dreams, who will compliment every attempt whether your bread rises or falls flat!

In short, this contemporary romance is super cute, super sexy, and has lots of hot bread-baking (and other types of cooking!) scenes that’ll make you want to bust out your culinary skills for your significant other just to see if you can make them moan over a meal. Two thumbs up, five gold stars, and one “ungagement” ring!