My name is Kimberly and I'm the reader/reviewer behind Wit and Sin. Wit and Sin is a website that provides honest reviews and publicity. I primarily read and review Romance titles, but I also review Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult, Mystery, and Non-Fiction titles. In addition to Wit and Sin, I am a reviewer for Joyfully Reviewed (pen name: Shayna) and Romance Junkies (pen name: Lily).
Reviewed for Wit and Sin
Uzma Jalaluddin puts her own spin on Pride and Prejudice with Ayesha at Last. I cannot resist Jane Austen retellings, so I eagerly dove into this tale. What I found was not just a fresh new take on a classic, but an engaging story in its own right with memorable characters.
Ayesha Shamsi is a poet who has to put aside her dreams for practicality. She doesn’t have the privileges her flighty cousin does, nor she does she resent the younger woman her stream of potential matches, though many in her community arch their eyebrows that Ayesha is still unmarried at twenty-seven. Ayesha is a smart, likeable heroine who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s also just a little bit lonely, so of course I wanted her to find love with Khalid. Khalid Mirza grabbed my heart faster than you can say “Mr. Darcy.” He’s a conservative Muslim man and dresses as such, which means he’s often the target of quick judgments even among other Canadian Muslims like Ayesha (not to mention the venom from the Islamophobe at his office). People often judge Khalid by the way he dresses and his quiet reserve is mistaken for condescension. Khalid is shy, a bit awkward at times, and not without his flaws. But he’s also quick, loyal, and endearing once you get past the surface. Sparks strike immediately between Khalid and Ayesha, but they definitely don’t get along. It’s a clash between traditional and non-traditional views at first, with both characters certain they are right. It was fun to watch Ayesha and Khalid work past their misconceptions, to see what’s beneath the surface. Their romance develops organically over the course of the tale, in quiet moments as they find middle ground, and the two of them made me melt.
Ayesha at Last is filled with vibrant secondary characters who help bring the book to life. I can’t count the number of times Ayesha’s grandparents made me smile and oh, how I would love to read a book about Khalid’s sister, Zareena. The only downside to such an energetic supporting cast is that they sometimes pulled focus from Khalid and Ayesha. This is especially the case when it comes to Ayesha’s spoiled cousin, Hafsa, and Khalid’s mother, Farzana. If there’s one thing I never wanted from Pride and Prejudice, it was more page time devoted to Lydia and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. I did sometimes lose patience with the drama in this story, but by the end Ms. Jalaluddin brought all the characters to a satisfying conclusion.
In Ayesha at Last Uzma Jalaluddin blends many elements of Austen’s classic with contemporary romance and Muslim traditions and culture. So even though some of the drama was a bit much for me at times, it was balanced by sweet moments like watching a modern day Lizzie and Darcy fall in love during a paratha making lesson. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Ms. Jalaluddin writes next.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.