Hi everyone! I hope you’re all doing well! Today is a particularly driech day here in Scotland (one of my favourite Scots words!) so I’m cosied up at my desk under a fluffy blanket and waiting for book mail to arrive, and what better time to write a review for one of my most anticipated 2021 releases than now! This will most likely be a shorter review than I’m used to, just because the book in question is a novella, but I’m hoping that you enjoy this review nonetheless, and perhaps it’ll give you that extra little nudge needed to pick this one up!
Title: When Tara Met Farah
Author: Tara Pammi
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, LGBT, New Adult
Synopsis: Sunshine Girl needs math lessons…
Nineteen-year-old Tara Muvvala didn’t mean to lead a double life. But her bone-deep aversion to math + a soul-deep desire to please her mother = her failing math grade + exploding food vlog ‘this masala life’.
Enter her mother’s research intern and resident math genius Farah Ahmed. Tara makes a deal with Farah – help her pass the math course and she’ll welcome Farah into the local Bollywood Drama & Dance Society.
Grumpy girl gets life lessons…
After losing her mom to a heart attack, dumping her small-minded boyfriend (she’s
bisexual, not confused) and reluctantly moving to the US to be near her dad – all in the span of eighteen months, twenty-three-year-old Farah has hit the full quota on LIFE. Two things keep her going – her internship with a brilliant statistics professor and the possibility of meeting her dancing idol through the Bollywood Drama & Dance Society. That is, if her new hot-mess housemate will let her.
Soon Tara and Farah are bonding over chicken biryani, dancing to Bollywood Beats at midnight and kissing… against all the odds. And maybe beginning to realize that while life’s even more complicated than math, love is the one variable that changes everything!
Will they realize that together they have the recipe for a Happily Ever After?
Despite never having read any of Tara Pammi’s impressive backlist of romance novels, I was extremely excited to pick this book up as soon as it was released. The cover alone is absolutely gorgeous and I love the sunshine girl/grumpy girl dynamic. Like I have been for most of the past year, I was also very much in need of some cute, fluffy romance when I picked this novella up, and it definitely delivered!
When Tara Met Farah follows Tara, who is still yet to pass the maths class needed to graduate from her high school like all her friends did a year prior. Constantly feeling like a failure when it comes to her mother’s specialist subject, Tara enlists her mother’s cute new intern, Farah, to help her pass her final in exchange for bringing her along to her Bollywood dance group’s practice so that Farah can meet the star dancer, and her late mother’s favourite celebrity, that teaches the group, but sparks begin to fly along the way! This is a very low stakes novella with very little fluff which I really appreciated. Far too often I read a romance novella that, around the 75% mark has some silly conflict that could easily be resolved by communicating, but thankfully it wasn’t the case with this one! I really liked the inclusion of Tara’s YouTube channel, This Masala Life, and I think it added an extra layer to both the story and her character’s development!
The characters were one of the main reasons I wanted to pick this book up in the first place and, unsurprisingly, I loved them! Tara Pammi took, what I think was an excellent decision to narrate Tara’s story in first person and Farah’s story in third person, and it was so useful for being able to get into their respective voices, particularly in such a short novella where we don’t spend too much time with each character. Tara, the sunshine girl, was perhaps my favourite of the two women – I loved her passion for cooking and, oh my god did the dishes sound mouth-wateringly good! Her struggle to live up to what she felt were her parents’ expectations hit very close to home for me and I was really appreciative of that storyline. Farah is a slightly older maths genius (according to Tara!) who is rather closed off, after moving hundreds of miles from home after losing her mother. I do have a soft spot for Farah – despite being rather distant, she was extremely caring and kind and that shone through everything she did. I really liked the pair’s chemistry but I wouldn’t really say that the sunshine girl/grumpy girl aspect really shone through naturally – it was talked about a lot but very directly, for example Farah calling Tara a sunshine girl, but it never felt all that natural. Especially when Tara described Farah as being grumpy when she really wasn’t it felt a little forced.
I briefly touched upon the theme of living up to your parents’ expectations in the novel and I think it was done really well and it gave a really strong message of staying true to what you love. Tara Pammi also discussed connecting to your culture and your family which, again, I think gave the book some extra depth compared to a lot of romance novellas.
Overall, I had a really great time reading this and I can’t wait for the next book in the series, While We Were Married – I’ll eagerly be waiting its July release!