I enjoyed Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai, and then I got sucked in to Rai’s next book when the publisher put the beginning of First Comes Like (2021) at the end of Girl Gone Viral. It was an intriguing beginning and I immediately got sucked in.
Jia Ahmed is a beauty expert and influencer. She took the jump and moved to Los Angeles in order to further her career, and that has been her primary focus for quite some time. But then she received a direct message from Dev Dixit. Dev is a soap opera superstar in India, and he comes from a family of Bollywood royalty. They begin to chat and she quickly becomes enamored. Her friends aren’t convinced because Dev always manages to avoid meeting or talking in person.
Jia realizes that Dev is in southern California for his role in a new American show, and she decides to seize the day. She gets an invite to a the industry party through her influencer connections and surprises Dev. And she is sorely disappointed when he has no idea who she is. Jia realizes that she’s been catfished; disappointed and humiliated, she leaves the party. Dev finds Jia beautiful and captivating. He’s sorry that she’s upset, but mystified by the cause.
Dev doesn’t forget Jia, and he asks his publicist to find out about her. He eventually discovers that his cad of a cousin was the one catfishing Jia. He feels responsible and asks Jia if he can make it up to her. By that time, a tabloid photographer has snapped a picture of Dev and Jia together. Jia’s overachieving and judgmental family has seen it and is coming to visit. Jia asks Dev to pretend to be her boyfriend while her family is there and he agrees. Dev certainly understands complicated family dynamics.With their intense attraction and now all the time they’re spending together, something is bound to happen.
I enjoyed reading this book. I’m generally not big on influencers or beauty products, but Jia was a hard worker, sincere, and likeable. It was also nice to see a Muslim portrayed as the heroine, which I’m not sure I’ve seen in a romance novel before. Jia constantly had to balance her family’s expectations, her own sense or morality, and the expectations of the American beauty industry. Dev was also likeable as he tried to figure out how to spend time with his family when he’s had so many bad experiences with them. At the same time, he’s trying to raise his niece after his brother’s untimely death. There was a lot going on. I liked the characters and the book kept my interest.
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