A Rebel’s Mantra
by Sapna Srinivasan
Release Date: July 12, 2022
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #2 in The Sood Family series
Number of pages: 242
Source: ARC from publisher
Ages 14 and up
She’s never done what was expected of her…
Laila Sood has always resisted tradition and her parents’ wishes, from leaving her small town in India and moving to Seattle to start a rock band, to rejecting the groom her parents chose for her arranged marriage. Now twenty-nine, Laila’s band has critical acclaim on the indie scene, but she hasn’t attained her goal that will cement her rock star status—signing with a major L.A. label.
Marriage is the last thing on Laila’s mind when she meets Hari Singh. He’s an Indian mama’s dream—a handsome pediatrician from a rich, well-connected Indian family—and everything Laila’s rejected her entire life. Even worse, sparks fly between them like Diwali fireworks, and though Laila’s aunt is hoping to match Hari with her daughter, Hari is fascinated by Laila. She thinks a few dates will prove that he’s too boring and traditional for her, except Laila only falls harder.
Does Laila still chase her rock star dream, or has Hari shown her a new way to fly her rebel flag that just might be anchored in tradition?
The first story in this series, A New Mantra, was a pleasant surprise. A debut novel that sucked me in and took me away. I tried to go into this story with setting the bar a little lower. It would be unfair to the author to set my expectations too high. There was a time or two in the beginning that I felt the story was on shaky ground. Some things about song writing and recording that seemed a bit odd and just an overall clunky feel to the writing. Thankfully, things evened out and I was eventually able to fall into the story a bit more.
Laila is not treated well by most of her family. As the title suggests, she’s the rebel of her (for the most part) traditional family. There were even times in this story where her cousin Mira, from the first book, wasn’t being as open-minded as I thought she would be. Everyone always makes assumptions about Laila instead of asking her thoughtful questions in a non-accusatory way. Laila is stubborn and won’t fight to change anyone’s mind, she lets them think what they will because she doesn’t want to give in to her family even one inch. Laila’s stubborn nature and her family’s inability to see her for her true self cause so much friction.
While Hari, from the outside, seems to have been in a traditional Punjabi family, they are much more laid back and open to letting people be themselves. Hari’s mom will try to arrange a marriage for him, but not if he expresses displeasure or disinterest in the chosen woman. When it comes down to it, Hari’s parents just want him to be happy and healthy. Being raised in a Punjabi family, he does still understand Laila’s family since he’s seen it with others all his life. But he wants Laila to realize that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Laila really does put Hari through the ringer with her back and forth in this book. I understand it, but it’s often disheartening. Yet, Hari still goes out of his way to try to pry some of those walls down and show Laila that she can be happy in a relationship while simultaneously being happy in her professional life.
There is a lot of compromise that happens in order to make this story work. Between Hari and Laila, between Laila and her family, and even with Laila and herself. Yet everyone ends up in a better place than they began.
I’m interested to see how the author is going to make me like cousin Sahana in the next book. Her actions and words through this story were terrible. But if Laila can forgive her I guess I can, too.
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**