Best friends forever: "Wrong to Need You" by Alisha Rai

Book: Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

Release date: November 28, 2017

Pages: 368

Publisher: Avon

Genre/category: Contemporary romance

Rating: ★★★★★

*This book was provided to me by the publisher as an advance reader copy for review purposes.*

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with his brother’s widow…

Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he’s come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher—and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother.

Sadia Ahmed can’t deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can’t turn down his offer of help with the cafe she’s inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she’s simply unable to resist.

An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they’re strong enough to face the past...and step into a future together.

This is a gorgeous and stirring follow-up to Hate to Want You that expands on the world of the extended Kane-Chandler clan. The complexities of grief, family life and friendship are explored in a way that’s intimate yet universal. And you will absolutely fall in love with the delightful couple at its heart.

Sadia is wonderful and real. She is surrounded by people with extraordinary and lucrative careers, including her younger sisters, and she’s just a regular single mom trying to provide for her son and run the family business while bartending on the side. She has secret pastimes she doesn't feel shame about but wants to keep to herself, and she does care on some levels what her family thinks of her and worries greatly about being a good mother. That mix of owning her choices but having nagging feelings of inadequacy made her so tangible to me. She’s also loving, fun, supportive and no-nonsense when she needs to be, especially to protect her family.

Jackson is an epic dreamboat. A man who stands up against social injustice AND who can cook you a croque madame AND who is buff and tattooed? He might sound like a fantasy, but Rai made him flawed and conflicted. His difficulty communicating was a relatable problem that puts him at odds with the more demonstrative heroine. He was a far more enjoyable character than the brief glimpses of him we saw in Hate to Want You, and I was ecstatic about that.

The conflict of a widow falling for her former brother-in-law played out in ways I didn’t expect, and it was very cool seeing my read of the situation evolve with every chapter. Rai is excellent at subverting expectations. She does incredible work evolving the friends to lovers trope here, just like she put a fresh spin on the second chance romance in the previous book.

I also love that Rai continues exploring mental health issues with her heroines, and have a feeling that theme will continue through the end of the series.

Rai weaves in an excellent supporting cast that makes me disappointed this will only be a trilogy. I want to know more about all these complicated, fascinating people.

Read this one immediately, but keep tissues handy.