I recommend Sajni Patel’s debut, The Trouble With Hating You, with some caution. Not everyone is going to like Liya, the prickly main character, and I cannot speak to the quality of the Desi representation. It’s high drama and angst with low heat. I enjoyed enough about the book that I would be interested in reading more from the author. I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The drama in the book may also put some people off. Most significantly, there is off-page past sexual assault of a minor, an on-page make out session that becomes a sexual assault, off-page death of a parent, and misogyny based shunning. The ending is more an implied HEA rather than a certain HEA.
I liked Liya. I liked her guardedness, her prickles, her argumentativeness, and her distrust. She has a difficult relationship with her father, which makes it hard for her to have a relationship with her mother and makes her feel unwelcome at Mandir (Hindu temple) community events. I liked Jay also. Arguing is my love language, so the early arguments between Liya and Jay were fun to read. They do get mean, cross lines and apologize, which was not fun, but as they continue to crash into each other (figuratively and literally) they soften and the arguing becomes less about winning points off the other and more the way they get to know each other. They are energized by the bickering. I’m not a fan of mean characters, but Patel does a couple of things that alleviate the early hostility between Liya and Jay – she shows them interacting with their friends and family, and she shows how Liya’s father provoked her anger before she met Jay. (As the daughter of a difficult father, I could empathize with the shields Liya needs to interact with the world.)