Author: Alisha Rai
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 11 minutes
The author of The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral returns with a story about finding love in all the wrong inboxes…
Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.
There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.
The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…
When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?
First Comes Like is the third and final novel in the Modern Love trilogy where each story can be read as a standalone. The main character, Pakistani-American Jia Ahmed, is actually the younger sister of the main character in the author’s Forbidden Hearts series, which is still on my TBR. Jia is a YouTube based beauty influencer that is dedicated to make-up and skincare, where she dreams of one day having her own make-up company. I loved that Jia was a beauty influencer as it showed the work that goes into this position and the harsh realities that they face on a day-to-day basis. After discussing with Bollywood soap opera star, Dev Dixit, online, she decides it is time to meet in person, however, when Jia goes to the hotel lobby, Dev does not recognize her. The two of them part ways as it ends up being someone was posing online as Dev, but, unfortunately, a photo was taken and now their conservative Desi families believe they are in a relationship. Thus, the two begin a fake dating relationship to save face in front of their families.
Jia was a very dynamic main character. At 29-years-old, she is “older” in terms of being an influencer where younger ones tend to take over and become more popular. It was a very interesting storyline as this added some nice realism to the story where most influencers are in their late teens or early twenties and there are not tons of older ones around. As Jia is Muslim, she has certain boundaries that she sticks to, which was refreshing to see in a romance story. I liked that she wanted to wait, for religious reasons, to have sex, as this was something that I rarely see in stories. The way this is approached with her character and her interactions with Dev were very well-done as he was incredibly respectful of her wishes. This was a great general theme with his character as Jia and Dev may have different perspectives, but they respected each other. As for Dev’s character, he is an Indian actor who is trying to break into the American market through filming a series. He is also dealing with grief after the loss of two family members and is now raising his niece.
Overall, this story features a very sweet romance. The side and main characters were all enjoyable and worked well together. There are many issues, such as Jia’s career, culture, religion, family beliefs, and grief, just to name a few, that are dealt with in a sensitive manner. The author does a great job of weaving everything together and delivering it in an enjoyable story. While I enjoyed the build up of Jia and Dev’s relationship, the story itself seemed to lack any angst. Every element seemed to move too freely from one step to the next, where it seems that hurdles were missing along the way. These steps are not issues themselves, but it just seemed to flow in a different way than the way the blurb leads the reader to believe. There is a lot that happens towards the end of the novel that I think needed more exploration as well as the beginning where they initially fall for each other. Both sections, I felt, needed some expansion to make me fully connect to their relationship and the story. Despite my small issues with the story, I do feel it was worth the read and I enjoyed the entire series.