Geri’s Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh

REBEL HARD
Series:  Hard Play #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Nalini Singh
Release Date: September 18, 2018

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Hard Play series with a sweet, sexy romance featuring big, fat, OTT weddings, a meddling grandma, and a too-serious hero who needs to be unbuttoned…

Nayna Sharma agreed to an arranged marriage in the hope it would heal the fractures in her beloved family… only to realize too late that a traditional marriage is her personal nightmare. Panicked, she throws caution to the winds, puts on the tiniest dress she can find, and ends up in the arms of a tall, rough-edged hunk of a man who has abs of steel—and who she manages to mortally insult between one kiss and the next.

Abandoned as a child, then adopted into a loving family, Raj Sen believes in tradition, in continuity. Some might call him stiff and old-fashioned, but he knows what he wants—and it’s a life defined by rules… yet he can’t stop thinking about the infuriating and sexy woman who kissed him in the moonlight then disappeared. When his parents spring an introduction on him, the last woman he expects is her. Beautiful. Maddening. A rulebreaker in the making.

He’s all wrong for her. She’s all wrong for him. And love is about to make rebels of them both.

 

 

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There isn’t a sub-genre in romance that Nalini Singh can’t do.  I was blown away by just how good she is the moment I started reading Rebel Hard. It is, hands down, my favorite Nalini Singh contemporary to date!

Forget about internet dating. All this traditional meet and greet and reject stuff was brutal.

The romance between Raj Sen and Nayna Sharma will make you swoon and will put a dopey smile on your face. Seriously. This book is one of those books that makes go, “This is why I read and love romance!” Because it’s true. Rebel Hard is tropey, and it employs a trope that you don’t see often in romances nowadays, or at least not as well done: the arranged marriage trope.

Raj and Nayna both came from Indian families who believes in tradition, and that includes arranging marriages for their kids. I loved how Nalini Singh tackled this trope in relation to Indian family culture. Singh makes you understand and accept arrange marriages as reality and even gets you invested in them.

The very things that centered Raj were her worst nightmare.

It is often said that a book is only as good as its central conflict. And there is no better conflict than a conflict of ideology. I think that can to romance as well. Raj, because of his experience being abandoned as kid, wanted nothing stability offered by his tradition, and that is finding a wife who will keep the house and raise the kids. It’s the exact opposite of Nayna’s point of view. She grew up under her beautiful but rebellious shadow. When her older sister eloped with a guy their parents did not approve, Nayna overcompensated by being a good daughter, stifling her dreams in order to please her family.  So while she was attracted to Raj, she couldn’t commit knowing that Raj wanted something she might not be able to give. The conflict, and how Nalini Singh chose to resolve it gave me all the feels. Even though in the back of my mind, I know they’re going to have their HEA but the journey they had to travel to get there was best thing to read ever.

It’s easy to root for a character when that character is like Nayna. I was rooting for her to find love with Raj without sacrificing who she is and her dreams. No one should give up who they are because of a guy no matter how gorgeous and amazing they are. And Raj is amazing. Singh did a phenomenal job of showing Nayna’s strength and vulnerability. Her motivation was clear from the onset, which is why for me, her doubts and fears about commitment made sense. She’s definitely one of my favorite Nalini Singh heroines ever.

Raj is the perfect hero for Nayna. I really don’t know how Nalini Singh does it but once again, she gave us another hero to swoon over. I probably sound like a broken record now but Raj is amazing and one of Singh’s best contemporary heroes ever. He’s far from perfect. He’s stubborn and he had some pretty weird ideas about and love and marriage I did not agree with. But what made me love him was how he slowly realized that he was wrong and how he changed his behavior. Most of all, Raj is just gone for Nayna. He fell so hard for her and the length he went through to show Nayna that was adorable. And the sexting!!?! Omg, it was so hilarious.

“I got the Pride and Prejudice audiobook and listened to a chunk of it while working on a site today. Mr. Darcy is kind of a dick.”

The other element that added to my love for this book was the Indian family dynamics and culture. I love that the characters 90% of the characters in this book are Indian living their full happy lives in New Zealand. I’ve been gravitating to non-US set, diverse books as of late and Rebel Hard definitely fits everything I’ve been craving for in my romance. While showing the characters cultures isn’t really a requirement for me in order to enjoy my romance book, I appreciate it when it does. And this book shows a lot of Nayna and Raj’s culture. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction Nayna and Raj had with their families and community. It made me appreciate and love the characters even more.

Rebel Hard was a joy to read from start to finish. Hilarious, poignant, and sexy, Rebel Hard is everything I wanted in my contemporary romance. Nalini Singh’s writing shines through as she takes us through Nayna and Raj journey to HEA.

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