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Starting with The Alphabet Challenge Variation (read 18 books where the title/author name begins with the letter A, then B, C, etc. through R).

Letter “R” for Alisha Rai

During last year’s challenge, I read Alisha Rai’s first book in this series, Hate to Want You. This time, I delved into the second book, Wrong to Need You, also published in 2017. And, I have to say, this one is an improvement.

The plot to Wrong to Need You picks up right after the first book, although I don’t think you need to read the first to appreciate this sequel. The story revolves around Sadia Ahmed and Jackson Kane. Sadia is the widowed sister-in-law of the heroine from Hate to Want You and Jackson is the twin brother of that heroine. So, obviously, Sadia is also Jackson’s sister-in-law. Sadia is from a Pakistani-American family of over achievers. However, she rebelled, left school, married young, and had a child. She now runs her deceased husband’s café, although her heart’s not in it, and she also bartends at night to supplement her income. Fortunately, she has a big enough family – including her former in laws – to help take care of her young son. Jackson – who is part Hawaiian, part Japanese — is the prodigal son of the Kane family, having run off after being accused of arson, even though that accusation was later retracted. He’s back in town to connect with his sister, but he’s never been comfortable at home and is looking for a fast exit. What stops Jackson from hitting the road is Sadia. They were friends when they were children and he always had a thing for her, although he never made that obvious and stepped out of the way when Sadia and his brother, Paul, started dating. He discovers that Sadia’s café is in need of a chef, and it just so happens that he *is* a chef – a very successful one who runs pop-up restaurants around the globe. Before you know it, Jackson is volunteering at Sadia’s café, living over her garage, and finally connecting with his young nephew. Although trying to keep a low profile, his presence stirs up the ghosts of the past in both his own family and that of his deceased father’s former business partner, bringing to light unsavory facts that were buried and feelings he’s had for Sadia. Conveniently – or not – Sadia’s libido is also being stirred by Jackson’s presence. The question is, could there be more between them and can their families accept that?

While many of the basic details of this story were revealed to us in Rai’s first book, this one does a much better job of laying out the facts in a show, not tell, fashion. The story of the Kane family, their former partners, the Chandlers, and Sadia’s family, the Ahmeds, is laid out much better and is more engrossing here. Plus the protagonists are more sympathetic and vulnerable – especially Jackson. This book is full of relationships and not just sexual ones. Although sexy, the story spends a lot more time on building up the tension, which makes it more meaningful to the reader when Sadia and Jackson finally connect. The story also does a great job with other relationships, especially between Sadia and her four sisters. All in all, I liked this second book better than the first. I’d give it an A-, with a slight subtraction for some unnecessary character traits that made no sense to me, e.g., Sadia is bi-sexual? Why, when that never really factored in the story?

The Alphabet Challenge Variation – 1 down, 17 to go