Incense and Sensibility by: Sonali Dev

The Rajes book 3

Yash Raje, California’s first serious Indian gubernatorial candidate, has always known exactly what he wants—and how to use his privileged background to get it. He attributes his success to a simple mantra: control your feelings and you can control the world.

But when a hate-fueled incident at a rally critically injures his friend, Yash’s easy life suddenly feels like a lie, his control an illusion. When he tries to get back on the campaign trail, he blacks out with panic.

Desperate to keep Yash’s condition from leaking to the media, his family turns to the one person they trust—his sister’s best friend, India Dashwood, California’s foremost stress management coach. Raised by a family of yoga teachers, India has helped San Francisco’s high strung overachievers for a decade without so much as altering her breath. But this man—with his boundless ambition, simmering intensity, and absolute faith in his political beliefs—is like no other. Yash has spent a lifetime repressing everything to succeed.

Including their one magical night ten years ago—a too brief, too bright passion that if rekindled threatens the life he’s crafted for himself. Exposing the secrets might be the only way to save him but it’s also guaranteed to destroy the dream he’s willingly shouldered for his family and community . . . until now.

Content Warnings: Gun violence, public shooting, blood/injury, racism, sexism, toxic masculinity, ableism, PTSD, and queerphobia.
Mention of: being drugged and raped, injury due to getting hit by a car, depression, mention of losing a loved one/partner, and anxiety.

Having been emotionally devastated and restored by the first two books in this series…I took my time getting around to book three. This was a book I’m pretty sure I pre-ordered and then left sitting on my shelf because I wasn’t prepared to deal with the emotions Sonali made me feel in the first two books.

I wouldn’t classify this book as a romance so much as adult fiction as the element of romance was so small in comparison to everything else the book dealt with.

The book starts with an attempt on Yash’s life when he’s set to speak at a political rally. His friend and bodyguard is critically injured when he tries to jump in the way of a bullet meant for Yash. Having his friend in the ICU with no idea if he’ll ever wake up, let alone recover, Yash is in shock. Yash has always been great in front of a crowd but after the shooting anytime he attempts to speak at a public gathering he’s overwhelmed with panic and anxiety.

Yash is close to 40 and has years of unresolved trauma that had deeply affected his life and the way he handles things. I really wish the book would have shown Yash getting professional help to process his trauma rather than just talking with India and mentioning that he’s set up an appointment. Trauma is such an important thing that needs to be addressed and I understand it taking years for him to come to terms with needing help…I just wish we were able to see him getting more help than just India.

We spend so much of the book seeing Yash acknowledge how much trauma has shaped and dictated his life and I just needed more of the after, if that makes sense. Maybe I’m just not in the right mood to be reading this book but I felt like there was so much sadness and although he does find love and he’s finally opening up to his family…I just felt like the negativity and sadness outweighed the happiness. I just needed to feel more of a win than what I felt.

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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