I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Mina had seen her fair share of beautiful men, but the Singh brothers were in a whole different league. They were like the Punjabis her mother warned her about when she was a child. Their edges weren’t just rough, they were serrated. Built, with smooth dark skin and light brown eyes, their masculinity was barely restrained in custom-fit suits.
Especially Hemdeep Singh.
The first in the Singh Family series, The Takeover Effect, brings together the eldest brother Hemdeep and Mina, a lawyer sent to assess if Bharat, Inc (Singh family company) should take a buy-out from WTA. This was a story full of corporate espionage, insta-spark, and family drama. Ms. Sharma created such a fascinating and emotional world that I was instantly sucked in.
Spending time with Mina meant engaging in a constant battle of wit and lust.
We start off being introduced to Hem and learn that he left as CEO of Bharat to start his own firm. The catalyst was due to family pressure to get married and how he saw that as damaging his relationship with his now ex-girlfriend. When he gets a call that his father had a heart-attack and there is some shady dealings going down by the Bharat board to accept a buy-out, he rushes home to stand with his other two brothers, Ajay and Zail. Hem makes a strong impression right off the bat and I loved his take charge attitude. He's instantly attracted to Mina when he sees her and while their business relationship worked as a credible reason to keep them apart, thus providing some steamy can't quite act on it lust, I would have liked to see more of a gradual mentally falling in love. I also thought that in the second half we lost Hem a little bit, Mina's strong character comes on and instead of them shining together, he fades into the background more. I did, though, immensely enjoy his personality of strong and protective but also sweet and caring.
She’d do anything to get her mother’s company back, except lose her integrity.
Mina's mother died in a car accident when she was younger and since then has worked to be able to eventually take back the law firm she thinks her mother's brothers pushed her mother out of, causing her drinking. Her uncle has been pressuring her to agree to an arranged marriage, claiming he'll make her an equity partner if she does. When her uncle comes to her with another deal, this time to unethically and illegally present a biased opinion on a buyout report, she knows it is time to start taking action against her uncle. Mina was a fantastic heroine, she was strong, capable, smart, funny, cheeky, and had that hint of vulnerability that creates just the right amount of empathy, sympathy, and endearing. I loved how she more than matched Hem's strong personality, they absorb each other's emotions instead of having them bounce off. I liked the friendship she seemed to have with her friend Rajneet but I wanted them to appear more together; Rajneet was a defined character but also a pretty clear series baiting one, too. I also think Mina's relationship with her father could have been flushed out more, he's pretty absent for most of the story to then come forward at the end to provide what is supposed to be a heavy emotional moment.
“Hiriye, I’m a sardar. A Punjabi Sikh man. Do you really think I can resist a challenge?”
“And I’m a sardarni,” she snapped. “Do you really think I’ll put up with your bullshit?”
He leaned forward and stole a quick kiss. “Challenge accepted.”
These two were such a well matched couple, I loved them but I also wanted more. Like I mentioned, it was pretty much insta from Hem, with Mina a little emotionally slow to get there and being the one to recognize the professional problems. The professional issues worked very well to hold off the ultimate physical insta-lusting, giving our couple more time to interact on the pages before the sex scenes started, something I, personally, appreciate. I did think the sex scenes got a bit over-the-top at times, let's just say I'm happy about all the chai they are drinking because of all the screaming going on. They had such delectable back and forth, I craved more scenes of them just being together.
“Mai tuhade lai a ri aahn.” I’m coming for you.
The corporate espionage plot was intriguing and this may be a weird thing to point out but I liked how the author mentioned/incorporated all the technology (tablets, etc) that would be such common instruments for business people, gave it a sleek and actual contemporary feel. I did cringe at times when Mina's uncle's weight comes into mention (paunch, neck rolls, sweaty) in such a way that it felt like it was supposed to highlight his villain status, this is old imagery that needs to go away. I also thought, there was some unneeded drama at the end where Hem had some slightly out of character angst. It was pretty quick and quickly dealt with but I just didn't feel the ending needed that. However, the conversation between Hem and his father provided lovely heartfelt emotion.
This was an excellent start to the Singh Family series and because of how vivid the world and stirring the characters were that the author created, I craved a Danielle Steel-esque page count. The corporate espionage takes pages away from Hem and Mina more than I would have liked but they're still worth the price of admission. Bharat, Inc isn't out of the woods yet and with a cliffhanger involving that thread, I can't wait for the second in the series to see Ajay and Zail (or perhaps their cousin Brahm?) find a heroine (or hero) to more than match them.
They linked fingers and tangled limbs. “It was worth the wait,” she said softly.
Hem chuckled. “That was just the start.”