Married in Name by India Daram

‘Married in Name’ is a perfect love story, filled with sparkling characters and swoon-worthy romance. What I really loved about this novel was the way in which Daram grounds the whole thing in reality, making it realistic and relatable. At the same time, however, the story is also entwined with a beautiful, fairytale-esque magic that ensures the happy ending we all crave, making this rom-com a true delight to read.

The novel starts with a diary entry, a somewhat clichéd, but nevertheless engaging decision on the part of the author. The use of a diary allows an immediate connection with our charming protagonist, Riyha, a sassy, witty and instantly likeable 21-year-old living in London. Riyha was by far and away my favourite character. Full of energy, bursting with sarcastic comments and complete with a bubbling internal monologue that never failed to entertain, Riyha is the driving force of the book. Her interactions with other characters served, in turn, to bring them to life as well.

This is immediately apparent when we are first introduced to Nick Summers, the dashing guy-next-door. It is his glittering dialogue with Riyha that made me first like him as a well-rounded character, although I did find it a bit odd when he decided to help himself to a stranger’s kitchen and make a drink for a sleeping girl in the very first chapter. It was the little things like this, however, that fuelled my interest in this story. Although the setting is delightfully realistic – you really get the buzz and rattle of London when you read these pages, it is these small, extraordinary events that add to the romanticism of the novel. You can tell from the very beginning that this is going to be a book about passionate love, a love that transcends the plain and the everyday. For a romance novel, this is undoubtedly a success. The passion at the start continues throughout, culminating in an ending that I was very happy with, if also a little surprised.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good rom-com. The plot is entertaining and pleasingly unpredictable; the characters are well developed, complete with backstories and very clear motives. The passion is undeniable, but I would say that it was the small dashes of humour that really make this book sparkle. Prepare yourself for smiles and a warmed heart – this is a book for all you hopeless romantics out there.