Review: Incense and Sensibility (The Rajes #3) by Sonali Dev

Sonali Dev clearly has a love for Jane Austen! I have had the pleasure of reading the Rajes books that each feature their own unique Austen novel retelling. Naturally, when I saw this one coming out I jumped on it. While Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, Sense and Sensibility boasts my favorite heroines. I love the contrast between the two Dashwood sisters and I was eager to see how that plays out in the Rajes family in this book.

Dev adds so much spice, flair, and uniqueness to her novels that will leave readers desperate for more. When I first saw that Dev was working her way through the Austen classics and writing modern Indian retellings I was skeptical. Austen books are notoriously hard to do retellings (especially modern ones). People have high expectations and often the things that make the Austen novels ‘classics’ are the same things that make it hard to do retellings.

For example, women needing to find a marriage of means, that’s not really relevant for the modern woman but it would have been during the time of Austen. But when it comes to Dev’s Austen retellings she doesn’t go all in for the typical retelling but instead leaves enough of the recognizable Austen characters and themes but adds her own unique spicy flair to the story and I am so so so here for that!

Summary

The author of Recipe for Persuasion—“not only one of the best but one of the bravest romance novelists working today” (Shelf Awareness)—adds an Indian American twist to Jane Austen’s classic Sense and Sensibility in this delightful retelling that is a feast for the senses.

Yash Raje, California’s first serious Indian gubernatorial candidate, has always known exactly what he wants—and how to use his privileged background to get it. He attributes his success to a simple mantra: control your feelings and you can control the world.

But when a hate-fueled incident at a rally critically injures his friend, Yash’s easy life suddenly feels like a lie, his control an illusion. When he tries to get back on the campaign trail, he blacks out with panic.

Desperate to keep Yash’s condition from leaking to the media, his family turns to the one person they trust—his sister’s best friend, India Dashwood, California’s foremost stress management coach. Raised by a family of yoga teachers, India has helped San Francisco’s high strung overachievers for a decade without so much as altering her breath. But this man—with his boundless ambition, simmering intensity, and absolute faith in his political beliefs—is like no other. Yash has spent a lifetime repressing everything to succeed.

Including their one magical night ten years ago—a too brief, too bright passion that if rekindled threatens the life he’s crafted for himself. Exposing the secrets might be the only way to save him but it’s also guaranteed to destroy the dream he’s willingly shouldered for his family and community . . . until now (summary from Goodreads)

Review

The Rajes books keep getting better and better in my opinion. Each one has stood solid at 4 stars but this one seemed to have a little something extra that made me just adore it. I love how each book has it’s own unique Indian American flair plus the Rajes family is so well developed and charming that it’s hard to not love the characters and family members. Throughout the series Yash has been a consistent character and seeing him now getting his own story was so fulfilling. I really enjoy his character and I thought that this book did him justice. His character went through appropriate changes and internal evaluation and I loved watching him in this book. Dev consistently write believable characters that are well thought out and interesting.

This story is a bit more complex than some of the others though and while you can easily read each of the books as stand-alones, I would recommend reading the other books since many of the characters make appearances, especially Yash. It will give you a deeper understanding of his character I think. Plus this story has a bit more substance behind it including some more serious issues (mental health etc) and I think readers will find a lot to appreciate in this one. It’s not just a fluffy Austen retelling.

Now on to the romance parts—-the second chance romance. Second chance romances are hit or miss for me. I generally don’t go crazy for second chance romances but in this case I thought it was fitting and sweet. India was a great romantic interest for Yash. She was someone I would love to be friends with and I think she had great chemistry with Yash. I mean yoga instructor meets stressed out politician? They are so mismatched that it works and I jus adored watching their romance come to life in this one. I hope that Dev does the all of Austen’s books because her retellings are smart, modern, funny, romantic and mixed with substance. If you love Austen but want something refreshing and new, these books are an excellent option!

Book Info and Rating

400 pages, Paperback

Expected publicationJuly 6, 2021 by William Morrow Paperbacks

ISBN9780063051805 (ISBN10: 006305180X)

Free review copy provided by publisher, William Morrow in partnership with the Tall Poppy Writers/Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Genre: retelling, romance, womens fiction

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