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Here we come to the end of the Raje family romance epic with the story of Vansh, the youngest brother who comes home long enough to find purpose in his life that quells his wanderlust.
In the last installment, you might remember golden boy Yash breaking up with his long-time fake girlfriend Naina to romance yoga teacher India Dashwood. Now Naina’s a person non grata with the sisters and having a bit of trouble with the funding for her life’s work of establishing medical clinics in Nepal.
And Vansh Raje is in town as part of his brother’s gubernatorial transition, and after finding out one of the young tech gurus who helped his brother’s campaign is actually homeless, decides to do something about it. Except his genius plan to help the tech guru infringes on Naina’s funding.
Vansh is young, brash, full of heart, quick to apologize (which is where he differs from his loose assignment as “Emma” in this story) and falling in love with Naina– despite his sisters’ treatment of her.
So I wouldn’t start with this book as the Rajes’ extended family and background are best digested in order as there is quite a proliferation of names. However, if you have read most or all of the series, this is a satisfying end to their stories. Even, in a surprise move, Esha the recluse gets some POV and ending, and actually I wish we had more of her story since it included that slightly supernatural part. She and her romantic partner are quite interesting and I think deserved a book instead of a b romance line in Naina and Vansh’s story….but oh well.
Naina and Vansh seem to act on their attraction quickly, but this series is rather low on the steam level, and partly because there’s sometimes some vagueness to dialogue and action, so when things start to heat up, the language gets a little vague and so that isn’t as much fun for me 🙂
I was a little sad that all the sisters seemed to blame Naina, and then are won over so quickly. I wish Naina had processed the whole India Dashwood situation a little more, or her own actions when Yash was courting India.
However, I read this series for the family dynamics, the cultural underpinnings of all the characters navigating family expectations, busy-body Aunties, a little bit of foodie fun, and the picking out elements of the (very very) loose structure of the Austen story informing the romance. It was fun to have Vansh/Emma gender swapped. Lovely end to the series.
FINAL DECISION: Loved the romance but wish there was more of it and less about fantasy nonprofit stuff that has many pages and little significance in the story. The book seems unfocused with too many ideas and not enough payoff. That being said the last couple of chapters of this book are amazing and almost worth the slog through the rest.
THE STORY: Vansh Raje is the youngest of the Raje family. In his mid-twenties, he is charming and seems to live a charmed life. When he returns home, he finds a new project to dedicate himself to -- homelessness in San Francisco. His new project, however, puts him in direct conflict with Naina Kohli. Naina, who is thirty-eight, has just ended a ten-year fake relationship with Vansh's older brother. Instead, she is dedicating herself to her project to bring independence to women in South Asia. Now the two are fighting for funding even as a new relationship arises between them.
OPINION: I really love the tenor and flow of Dev's books. She also writes very complex and interesting characters. Unfortunately, as with the last book, there was too much going on in this one. The book felt scattered and unfinished in the end because the stories did not reach a satisfying conclusion.
What I expected to really have problems with -- Naina, who is almost a villain in the last book, I ended up having great sympathy for and actually began to like. I even liked the interactions with Naina and Vansh and thought that their romance could work really well. Unfortunately, this book needed more romance and less fantasy homelessness elimination. If a writer is going to focus on social problems, then the story should be seriously addressed rather than living in a fantasy where everything can be solved if people just clap their hands and wish really hard. There was just too much of the pointless charity story and not enough relationship.
Thus, while I loved Vansh and Naina, I didn't get enough of their story to make the relationship work for me until the last couple of chapters. I absolutely loved those chapters which were emotional and deep and I was left wishing that I had gotten pages about them rather than a dull story about the nonprofit. The couple sparkled on the page in those chapters, but there wasn't enough build-up on the page before that. I wish I could have loved this book more because I think if the focus was more on the characters rather than the plot, I could have.
WORTH MENTIONING: Younger man/older woman romance with a 12-year age difference.
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE EMMA PROJECT is the fourth book in the Rajes series. This book can be read as a standalone although the series is about a family and so characters from the other books make significant appearances here.
Out of all the books, this is probably my least favorite. It's as well written as the other books, and a lot steamier for sure. And I do love a good, steamy sex scene. But I felt like it was a bit too on the nose in some ways. However, it did start to grow on me towards the end.
*POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD* . . . . .
I was a bit confused as to who would be the focus of this book when I picked it up. I mean, DJ's sister's name is Emma, so I thought it would probably be about her and Vansh, since it is the fourth book in the series and he's the fourth of the Raje progeny. But turns out it's mostly about the wild golden boy of the family and Naina, Yash's spurned fake ex, and the love they shared for each other throughout their lives without ever realizing just what kind and how deep that love is. Naina's so scarred by her parents that she can't even imagine being in a serious relationship and that hurts my heart, because for all her faults, she really is a good person.
I also really loved that Esha finds someone who can quiet her 'gift'!! And that we finally get to meet Sid, India and China's elusive photographer brother. The joy Esha experiences is just so palpable that you can't help feel it yourself.
It wrapped up the series nicely and was an entertaining read, all in all.
I enjoyed this story as much as the other books in the Raje series. “The Emma Project” is a satisfying conclusion to the stories of the Raje family. Vansh is more than the baby of the Raje family, and he matures and becomes more empathetic as he learns how to better help others and make a difference. Naina is a more complex character than how she was portrayed in the previous books, and it was good to see her as a complete character.
Adding Esha and Sid’s story was great because they reminded me that there is beauty and mystery in life if you are open ad accepting of what’s around you.
I was eagerly looking forward to this book and was not disappointed. The Rajes series has been one of the best retellings of the Austen books I have read. I will be returning to these four stories to visit with the Rajes.
I was skeptical of Naina & Vansh’s story, but I was pleasantly surprised. They had serious chemistry and shared professional and personal passion. A difficult situation involving Naina’s parents was handled in a nuanced manner. Also, a treat to see Esha bloom under Siddhartha’s presence.
Oh, I loved this one! I like all of the books in the Raje series, but this one is by far my favorite since Recipe for Persuasion. I loved the side plot with Esha and Siddhartha almost as much as seeing Naina and Vansh navigate their relationship. Thinking we may be finished with the series now that all the Rajes are happily paired up now though.
Another brilliant novel by one of my favourite authors. Sonali's expert story telling skills continue to fully entries the reader. Amidst the backdrop of romance, she also deals with the serious issue of abuse in this novel. You will surely fall in love with Vansh and Naina.
Over the top, heart wrenching, and so so poignant. Ms.Dev deftly weaved a plot that wrung out chuckles, laughter, and tears in a fantastical, over the top tale that does not hold back on real life issues.