A New Mantra
by Sapna Srinivasan
Release Date: April 21, 2022
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #1 in The Sood Family series
Number of pages: 232
Source: ARC from publisher
Ages 13 and up
When 30-year-old Seattle-based Indian housewife Mira Sood is blindsided by her husband’s extramarital affair, her three-year arranged marriage is shattered. Humiliated, heartbroken, near-broke, and facing the united dissension of her orthodox family, Mira is desperate to rebuild her life. She moves in with her rebel cousin, searches for any job that will take her, and impulsively signs up for a half-marathon race. There’s just one problem—Mira’s experience with running starts and ends with running to catch the bus.
With herself as her biggest critic and doubter, Mira commits to the race and is assisted by entrepreneur Andy Fitzgerald, a handsome, elite marathoner who helps her create a training schedule and personal goals. When the lines of friendship begin to blur, Mira realizes she’s facing an even bigger challenge.
Can Mira embrace her stronger, more independent self—risking another heartbreak and disappointing her family—or will she once again play it too safe and let the possibility of happiness slip away?
I lost myself in this book and really didn’t expect to do so. This is a debut author and I was in a strange headspace in my reading. To be honest, I almost passed because I wanted something I knew would be engaging and a comfort to me. In other words, I wanted to read one of my go-to authors. For some reason, I didn’t let myself leave this book behind and I am so happy about that.
Mira, at first, seems like she’s not a very strong person. She’s much stronger than she (or the reader) thinks, and it was a joy to watch her discover new things about herself. Turns out, Mira used to be quite independent…until she got married. Mira is a people pleaser, most especially when it comes to her traditional Indian family. She has never ever, and never plans to, rock the boat. So, Mira made herself into the perfect Indian housewife. She gave up her job and moved to a new country, she stayed home and only socialized with the family she had in and around Seattle where she had moved, she cooked, cleaned, and overall bowed to her husband’s demands. When he decides the marriage is over, Mira is devastated. Not so much because of an overwhelming love for him, but because she knows her family will be disappointed in her and feel shame for her getting a divorce. Never once does Mira think about how to make herself happy, only others.
Listen, I’m not a runner. I’ve never been a runner and will never be a runner. For many of the same reasons Mira didn’t feel she was a runner, but some added physical limitations, so she was very relatable to me. I have a feeling she will be relatable to many, even people who are avid runners. We all have our good days and bad days. I didn’t know that I’d be able to get into the whole training for a half marathon thing in this story, but the author did a wonderful job of explaining without boring. Giving enough information to make the story believable (at least to this non-runner) without making it about running statistics. What better way to do that than introduce a marathon runner to Mira.
Andy is amazing. So humble and kind, but still firm and driving. There is a beautiful softness between Andy and Mira and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it all unfold. I’m generally frustrated when the main characters of a romance don’t at least have a kiss before the halfway mark, but it made sense in this story and the author never let the growing tension between this couple drop while we are waiting for them to give into that pull. I cannot adequately explain how a first kiss at 75% just never works for me, but it worked for me here. Mira had to be in the right part of her recovery from her marriage in order for a relationship to work with her and Andy. For the reader to believe this is an HEA and not a quick fling, Mira and Andy needed to become not only great friends, but important in each other’s lives. It’s also important to note that Andy is very careful to not become Mira’s savior. He recognizes that Mira is a strong woman and doesn’t need saving, she needs encouragement to find that inner strength again.
I will definitely be reading more by this author. I see there is already two more books planned for this series and I am all for seeing Mira’s cousins find their happiness. I wanted a comfort read when I picked this book up, I got what I was looking for.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**
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