The Legal Affair
Books like The Legal Affair are why I love reviewing. Prior to this, I had no experience with Nisha Sharma or the Legal Briefs series. I started The Legal Affair with nothing more than a passing interest in the blurb about a self-made female CEO and corporate intrigue. I finished it with that satisfied sigh that comes from a good story neatly wrapped up, and a new author on my watch list.
Rajneet Hothi is the successful CEO of RKH Collective, an information security company which she built herself in the years after college. Even more impressive, Raj moved to America on her own to pursue this dream, leaving all her family behind in India. Their involvement in the opium trade was not something she wanted to be a part of, and necessitated cutting them out of her life. Since then, Raj has been careful about who she lets into her life – but not careful enough. When the book opens, Raj has just realized that her husband Robert has stolen secure information about one of her clients, Bharat Inc., and used that information to win a position at WTA Digital (Bharat’s competitor). Although their marriage was only a business arrangement, Raj is feeling betrayed and embarrassed when she runs into Ajay Singh at a party.
Ajay became interim CEO of Bharat after his father had a heart attack and his older brother stepped aside in The Takeover Effect. It’s been a challenge to get his bearings as the company fights against corporate espionage by WTA, and Ajay is quick to blame Raj when he realizes who she is. However, he’s just as quick to recognize their chemistry together.
For her part, Raj is wary of Ajay. After she clears the air and explains the dynamics of Robert’s betrayal, Ajay is ready to pursue her. However Raj holds back, because a planned career shift to head of a notable foundation makes her careful about her public image, and openly dating someone would look bad while she’s still technically married. More than that, Raj clearly has trust issues based on her experiences with Robert and her own family, so she has no plans to jump into a relationship with Ajay.
Naturally, that’s exactly what happens. Raj and Ajay fall quickly into bed and into a pattern of emotional intimacy. While Ajay is somewhat at odds with his family – particularly his younger brother Zail – as they all adapt to the idea of him as CEO of Bharat, Raj easily and naturally supports his career endeavors. She understands the pressures of leading a company, and is the loyal partner he needs in this moment. Similarly, Ajay and his family fulfil a need in Raj by giving her a family she can rely on once again. The Singhs are Punjabi, just as Raj is, and there are a few scenes with Ajay’s mother which I found particularly touching. The bonds of tradition run deep, and it was beautiful to see Raj recapture certain traditions with Ajay’s mother that she missed with her own.
It’s inevitable that a plot with so much corporate drama will need a certain amount of expository set-up. That’s doubly true here, as The Legal Affair is the second book in this series, and needs to incorporate some explanations of the events of the first one. All of the legal and corporate jargon did slow down the first couple of chapters, but once the plot began to play out I found everything much easier to understand. While this book does work as a standalone, I would recommend reading The Takeover Effect first, to get maximum enjoyment out of what is clearly shaping up to be a great series by Nisha Sharma.