1 August 2017

Review #632: The Crunch Factor by Andaleeb Wajid

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

“You don't love someone because they're perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they're not.”

----Jodi Picoult

Andaleeb Wajid, an Indian author, has penned a mildly heart warming, Bollywood-ish and spicy contemporary romance called, The Crunch Factor packed with a finger-licking delicious love triangle between a female food photographer, whose parents ask her to marry a filthy, rich restaurant owner, but unfortunately her heart is torn apart between the choices and the duties towards her middle class family and the choices of her heart's desire that wants to be wooed by that very restaurant's hunky and handsome head chef. Will it all be roses for the food photographer? Or will it cost her a lot of challenges to walk on the right path which she actually deserves?


Love comes in all tastes and spices!

Twenty-six-year-old Aliya loves almost everything to do with food – eating it, styling it, photographing it. But while her career as a food photographer is on track, her personal life is entirely derailed. Determined to move out of her parents’ house, she agrees to marry Kamaal, the hot owner of the trendy new restaurant in town. But why does she feel like she’s waded into a bowl of bland khichri? Where’s the papad, dammit? Where’s the crunch factor?

Then, on the day of her engagement, she finds out that the celebrated chef at Kamaal’s restaurant is none other than Sameer, an old crush from her younger days. Aliya cannot believe that, even a decade later, he’s still as hot as jalapeno poppers and as charming as cheesecake, and that she’s as attracted to him as she was all those years ago.

What is Aliya to do now? Should she go ahead with the wedding and settle for a Milky Bar-like relationship with Kamaal, or should she choose Rocky Road pie and explore her possibilities with Sameer?

Aliya, a freelance food photographer with a not-so-steady salary, is caught up in her parents' race to a posh lifestyle in Bangalore, where her family has just come out of the middle class image and is racing towards the Ambanislifestyle, by setting up the marriage of their elder daughter, Aliya, with a popular and posh restaurant owner, Kamaal, who is again, rich but not so handsome. Aliya reluctantly starts seeing Kamaal and much more of the reason for the parents' wishes to be accepted in the elite society of Bangalore. But Aliya's life is not a boring bland of chicken soup, instead her life is one hell of a spicy mix of schezwan chicken noodles, as Aliya can still feel the heat of her unfinished teenage affair with a boy named Sameer, who happens to be the head chef in Kamaal's restaurant. Both are delicious, but one is too bland and the other is too spicy for her taste, can Aliya come out of her dilemma before her life becomes a sad sappy Khichri of love drama?

Well sadly, this is the first and last time for me that I read any book by this author. This Bollywood-themed love story is boring, cliched and too sappy. There is no fun factor, or that charm that will let me fall in love with either the plot or with the characters. Instead, it made my stomach growl, which is a good sign apparently, as I don't have much of a big appetite, yet somehow while reading about the dishes, the story made me hungry for those lip-smacking delicacies being cooked up both in the life of Aliya as well as in the kitchen of Kamaal's restaurant.

The author's writing style is okayish and very much dramatic enough to bore the non-nonsense readers off their edges. The dialogues are very much mushy and corny to the core, I had to eye roll a lot of time, due to its level of cheesiness. Moreover, the narrative is predictable and very much bland just like Kamaal and Aliya's slow-burning and bland chemistry. The prose is cute but from a literary point of view, I felt like reading some Bolly romance flick's script, perfect with the cues for pretentious songs and dances.

The romance could have been much more layered, or the paramount thing from any and every romance novel is missing from this one, and that is, passion. If the author fails to stir any emotions in the hearts of the readers with his/her story line, then I believe, there is no pint of calling the book a love story. Sadly, this book failed to evoke any kind of emotions in my heart. Although I read romance novels, even the Mills & Boons type, yet somehow, this one simply did not fir the bill of being even a corny love story.

The characters are unique, diverse and fun to be around with. Especially, there is one supporting character, one typical Indian aunt, who is a food historian, whose witty remarks and her haughty flair will win the hearts of the readers. The main character, Aliya, is coming-of-age woman, but then again, her character lacked depth thoroughly. She felt more like a trouble puller towards herself, only to be rescued by a man. Not cool! Anyhow, moving on to the male characters, Oh my they incredibly matches the personality of a Bollywood movie's hero's charm, pathetic and pretentious.

In a nutshell, this book definitely is not my cup of tea, even though I gladly enjoy reading sappy and cheesy love stories, but somehow, there is no such factor in this book or in the story line of this one, that will slightly intrigue me.

Verdict: Not even suggesting this one to the romance book lovers.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Hachette India for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Andaleeb Wajid is the author of Kite Strings and Blinkers Off, My Brother's Wedding, More than Just Biryani and the Tamanna Trilogy, a Young Adult time travel romance series. Her 8th novel, When She Went Away was published by Duckbill in October 2015. Asmara's Summer, another YA with Penguin was published in April 2016 and there's an upcoming contemporary romance with Hachette in April 2017.
Her e-book Will the Oven Explode was published by Juggernaut in November 2016 and her horror novel It Waits (e-book) will be published by Juggernaut in late February, 2017.
Visit her here

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