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The Shaadi Set-Up
Cover of The Shaadi Set-Up
The Shaadi Set-Up
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In this witty and heartfelt rom-com debut for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Emily Henry, and Tessa Bailey, an Indian American woman signs herself and her boyfriend up for a matchmaking site to prove...
In this witty and heartfelt rom-com debut for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Emily Henry, and Tessa Bailey, an Indian American woman signs herself and her boyfriend up for a matchmaking site to prove...
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Description-

  • In this witty and heartfelt rom-com debut for fans of Jasmine Guillory, Emily Henry, and Tessa Bailey, an Indian American woman signs herself and her boyfriend up for a matchmaking site to prove they're a perfect match, only to be paired with her ex instead.
    High school sweethearts Rita Chitniss and Milan Rao were the golden couple, until the day he broke her heart. Now, six years later, Rita has turned her passion for furniture restoration into a career and has an almost-perfect boyfriend, Neil. The last thing she needs is for Milan to re-enter her life, but that's exactly what happens when her mother, an unfailing believer in second chances, sets them up. Milan is just as charming, cocky, and confident as he was back in school. Only this time, he actually needs her business expertise, not her heart, to flip a hard-to-sell house for his realty agency. 
     
    While Rita begrudgingly agrees to help, she's not taking any risks. To prove she's definitely over him, she signs herself and Neil up on MyShaadi.com, a Desi matchmaking site famous for its success stories and trustworthy enough to convince everyone that she and Neil are the new and improved couple. Instead, she's shocked when MyShaadi's perfect match for her isn't Neil...it's Milan. Ignoring the website and her mother is one thing, but ignoring Milan proves much more difficult, especially when she promises to help him renovate the beach house of her dreams. And as the two of them dive deeper into work—and their pasts—Rita begins to wonder if maybe her match wasn't so wrong after all....

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Chapter 1

    I drag myself on a walk around my neighborhood twice, the soup of North Carolina’s early June humidity plastering my hair to the back of my neck. Still half asleep, I let my dogs set the pace and try not to nod off behind my enormous incognito-actress-style aviators that cover half my face.

    Most girls would try to squeeze in a morning cuddle with their hunky boyfriends as soon as the alarm goes off, but I launched out of bed this morning before mine could hit snooze. As holdover from his college days, Neil’s mom still calls ten minutes after his second snooze to wake him up. In the beginning, he’d ignore her second “how are you doing this morning, beta” call, but three months into our relationship, he’s comfortable enough to carry on a speakerphone conversation with his mom while he shaves and gets ready.

    In almost every other respect, we’re fine. But if he just hit reject the way he used to, I wouldn't be out here at the asscrack of the morning, wincing at the sheer audacity of the sun streaming directly into my eyeballs, despite my sunglasses.

    To kill time, I pause at the bus stop and let the kids pet my French bulldog Freddie—who pretends not to enjoy it—and my Jack Russel terrier mix Harrie—who unabashedly does. I get to chatting with the Instagram-wellness-peddler-pretty-at-eight-a.m. moms who’ve seen my latest upcycled furniture drying out on my driveway.

    “Rita!” a woman calls from across the street, beckoning me to join her and her friend.

    It doesn’t take long before the frenemy neighbors vye for the same vintage Queen Anne dressing table, and their frenzied bids have already crossed double the asking price on Instagram.

    I have to admit it’s a beautiful, if somewhat boring, piece.

    I thrifted it from a local flea market last month at end of day, price dropped because the crusty seller didn’t want to load it back up on their van. Even with its busted cabriole legs, peeling paint, and cracked mirror, it was a steal at under a Benjamin.

    I would have loved to paint it a bright pop of color, hot pink, peacock green or electric blue, but the clientele around here prefers their paintwork just like they prefer their neighbors - conservative. So refinishing to the original walnut color and painting the new legs and drawers in champagne it is.

    My phone dings with a new email in between a particularly fierce volley between the always-glowing skincare ambassador and the went-vegan-for-the-likes yoga instructor who I know for a fact smuggles home Zaxby’s wings and fried chicken from Bojangle’s.

    I don’t want to take my eyes away from the bidding war in front of me; in any case, emails are harbingers of evil, usually credit card statements or sales bots who have scraped my email from Dharma Designs Instagram’s contact info.

    Skincare Lady’s final bid takes it up to triple, well above markup, and I arrange to deliver it later this week. Shaking on the price isn’t easy, especially when I know my (um, her) dressing table is only going to be used as a prop to display her overpriced gunk for sponsored posts (I mean, she has a mini fridge just for her skincare!), but I need the money.

    And secretly, I was rooting for her to come out the winner.

    So I grit my teeth and take her hand, both of us pretending we don’t see last month’s chipped black polish clinging desperately to my tips.

    She has a flawless gel mani. Because of course.

    Yoga Girl smiles through her teeth and says...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 10, 2021
    YA author Vale (Small Town Hearts) makes a splash with her laugh-out-loud adult debut. Furniture restorer Rita Chitniss is dating Neil Deiwan, but they’re keeping their relationship a secret due to the bad blood between their families. When Neil, who finds it hard to say no to his pushy, matchmaking mother, insists they come clean, Rita devises a plan. She signs them both up for MyShaadi.com, a Desi matchmaking website famous for seeing couples down the aisle. When she and Neil are matched by the site’s foolproof algorithm, she reasons, their parents will have no choice but to accept them as a couple. Except the site doesn’t match Rita with Neil; it matches her with realtor Milan Rao, the man who broke her heart six years ago. Maternal meddling further pushes these exes back together when Rita’s mother offers Rita’s services as an interior designer on a property Milan is having trouble flipping. Rita agrees to the project, but only to prove to Milan how over him she is. This plan also backfires, as one house turns to two and their relationship evolves from business to pleasure. Vale evenly balances heart and heat, while imbuing her rom-com with cultural specificity and delicately exploring familial obligation and heartbreak. Hilarious and heartfelt, this second chance romance proves it’s never too late to start again. Agent: Jessica Waterson, Sandra Dijkstra Literary.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2021
    A woman is given a second chance at first love. On the surface, Rita Chitniss is thriving. She runs Dharma Designs, a furniture upcycling business that has become so popular in her North Carolina community that her internet-famous neighbors clamor for her pieces. Her boyfriend, Neil Dewan, is handsome, successful, and ready to settle down. And she's got two dogs, Freddie and Harrie, whom she adores. But Rita has a big problem: Neil is the son of Amar Dewan, the man Rita's mother once hoped to marry--before Amar left her for Neil's mother. Because of the bad blood between their families, Rita is determined to keep her relationship a secret. But when she shows up at her parents' for lunch to find her mother has also invited her ex-boyfriend Milan Rao, now a real estate agent who needs help flipping an unsellable house, Rita agrees to the project only to prove that she's over him. To cement the idea, she signs herself and Neil up for famed Desi dating site MyShaadi, hoping that when they're matched their families will bless the relationship. Instead, she matches with Milan. And when one house-flip turns to two, their proximity brings old feelings to the surface. The writing has some standout moments, from the author's celebration of Indian American culture to her lush and mouthwatering descriptions of food. But too much space is taken up rehashing Rita's feelings about the past, resulting in minimal romantic chemistry and characters who feel one-note--including Rita's best friend, Rajvee, who's described as genderfluid but gets no on-page exploration of their identity beyond that. This rom-com could have used a better setup.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2021

    High school sweethearts are thrown back together as adults by their matchmaking mothers in this sweet second-chance romance (Vale's first novel for adults, after her YA romance Small Town Hearts). Interior designer Rita Chitniss has never understood why her high school boyfriend Milan Rao broke up with her by voicemail six years ago, while she waited for the plane that was supposed to take them on a romantic trip to Europe. Now Rita's mother has volunteered her to help real estate broker Milan sell a stagnant listing. Rita hopes she can dodge this latest matchmaking attempt by proving that she's already dating her perfect match, in boyfriend Neil. All she needs is to be paired with Neil on the Desi matchmaking site MyShaadi.com to show that they're meant to be. But MyShaadi matches Rita with Milan instead, forcing her to reevaluate her past with Milan, her present relationship with Neil, and her mother's motivations. VERDICT Vale's bittersweet, slow-burn story of lost love and difficult choices is lightened by plenty of humor and charming characters. It will please fans of Jasmine Guillory, Sonali Dev, or Tessa Bailey's "Hot & Hammered" series of renovation-themed romances.--Meagan Day, High Plains Lib. Dist., CO

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from August 1, 2021
    Indian American Rita Chitness is busy building her furniture restoration business while trying to keep her boyfriend, Neil, a secret from her family. After all, Neil's father rejected Rita's mother years ago. Now Neil wants them to go public, and Rita comes up with the idea of having them both register with MyShaadi.com, a respected Indian matchmaking site. She thinks no one will question their match if it's presented as a pairing there. What could go wrong? Her first love and first boyfriend, Milan Rao, now running a realty agency, has a house-staging job for her; she then discovers that she's been matched with him instead of Neil! Even so, she agrees to take on a beach house restoration project for Milan, too, and finds herself spending weekends with him in that lovely home, discovering furniture at thrift stores and enjoying time together. She doesn't want Milan to break her heart again, but she can't stop thinking about him, either. Vale's sweet, slow-building, funny, second-chance love story, her debut romance novel, offers lush settings, a clever and amusing predicament, and a memorable match.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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