Desert Isle Keeper
Wrong to Need You
In Wrong to Need You, the second installment of Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts trilogy, we pick up almost immediately after the first book left off, except our focus shifts to Sadia and Jackson. Sadia, a single mother and widow of a man she doesn’t really miss, is desperately trying to keep her dead husband’s café afloat. Jackson is the aforementioned dead dude’s brother. You can see where this gets complicated.
Sadia’s had a front row seat to the feud between the Kanes and the Chandlers that drives this series; she was married to Paul Kane and is best friends with Livvy Kane (heroine of Hate To Want You). She’s quietly stayed on the sidelines as she’s had enough to deal with, but as the feud affects the whole town, her life and business are affected too. Mixed into this quietly stressful life is Sadia’s Pakistani-American family, who clearly adore her but at the same time have no idea what to do with her; and that liminal space is not easy to navigate. The main distress, for the record, is Sadia’s bisexuality, for which she refuses to apologize and which flummoxes her mother.
Jackson was accused of a crime he didn’t commit ten years ago (tied to the great feud) and fled the town without a glance back. He’s pined for Sadia – his true best friend – for years but wasn’t going to get between her and his brother. In the intervening years, he’s become a successful chef – which is convenient, since his brother’s café is in desperate need of one. On the surface, his introversion and quiet stubbornness about working in the café could lead readers to believe he’s shy or aloof, but neither are true.
Still waters run deep with this couple. They both contain many emotional layers they only reveal to each other (for example, Sadia has a nearly inexhaustible libido and a penchant for being in charge) and do so while simultaneously holding as much back as they possibly can. The ‘forbidden’ nature of their relationship is at the core of the book – they both feel an attraction they cannot and do not want to deny, but are also aware of how taboo the situation is – but that doesn’t overwhelm the story. This book is both another piece of the larger puzzle that Ms. Rai is revealing and a deep meditation on adult relationships between two people who have been through some shit in their lives.
As an aside, while I really loved getting to know Jackson and Sadia and who they were growing to be together, my absolute favorite parts of the story are Sadia’s interactions with her sisters. These conversations nearly climbed off the page and walked around me, that’s how real they felt. I would recommend this book for those alone and in some ways, I see the romance as a bonus to the beauty of getting to know these two people and their worlds.
I try so hard not to judge people’s book choices – because we all love what we love – but there is a part of me that wants to assert that if you like contemporary romance with complicated, mature people having complicated, mature relationships (with seriously hot sexytimes) and you are not reading Forbidden Hearts, you are simply doing it wrong. This series is a masterwork and I cannot wait to see what comes next.