She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Zeenat Mahal is a spin on the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. It is published by Indireads.
It is a well written, short length romance set in Pakistan against a traditional family backdrop. For the first half, it is a page turner as the simmering tension drives you to read on and on. Zeenat Mahal has crafted two very sympathetic characters. Each is scarred in their own way. Yes, for all her apparent goodness, in this book, the Beauty is scarred too – inside while the Beast is scarred as much inside as on the exterior. While I was doubtful about the way they were tied up together, their situation was depicted from multiple angles and with great insight. Loved the dollops of humour here and there. A big disappointment, for me, was the skipping of the intimate scenes – not just for the sensuality but because it left me without any look into the characters’ heads for several pages and hence disoriented for some time.
For me the latter half dragged a bit. Especially the last few chapters were quite repetitive. I kept thinking a good talk would have resolved the issues between them much sooner.
However, Zeenat’s style of writing revived my interest again and again in the story and I was able to finish this in a single sitting.
Read it for a lovely experience of South Asian sweet romance.