Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Published by Berkley on June 12, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook (368 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.
Proceed With Caution:
This book contains racism and mentions of abuse and abortion.
Ayesha At Last follows two Muslims, Ayesha and Khalid, as they navigate the world of arranged marriage and familial expectations. Ayesha has just started her career as a high school teacher and isn’t looking for love or marriage. Khalid hasn’t given it much thought but wants his mother to find a wife for him. The two bump heads during their first meeting, but soon they hit it off. Too bad Khalid’s mom has chosen Ayesha’s younger cousin as his intended bride.
Ayesha At Last is apparently a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I cannot comment on how it compares or what elements are similar or different, because I’ve never read it. But I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this romance and its side plots.
Khalid is a very devout and conservative Muslim. He dresses in white robes with a prayer cap and keeps his beard long. He doesn’t touch women, even to shake their hand, and he doesn’t believe the opposite sexes should be left alone together. He especially doesn’t think Ayesha should be hanging out in bars! Well, she has a response to that one…poetry! Khalid realizes that he’s making the same snap judgements that people make about him. His version of being a good Muslim is not the only way, and he likes how Ayesha forces him to think differently. I adored Khalid and how he was proud to be who he is, but also taking the time to realize that there is room to “edit.”
I do wish Ayesha At Last had spent a bit more time with Khalid at work. His new boss is a monster and I hate her, but Khalid handles everything she throws at him with grace. I wanted to see more of the WomenFirst Design clients! That was so uncomfortable for him, but the ladies were so nice, and he was so gracious! And I wanted more! This ends up being pushed into the background, only emerging again at the end so that Khalid could come out on top.
As for the romantic portion of Ayesha At Last, there’s a case of mistaken identity! Ayesha is assumed to be her cousin Hafsa at an event planning meeting, which causes all kinds of trouble down the line. In particular, Hafsa is actually looking for husband, so Khalid believes his mother chose Ayesha and he’s ecstatic! Clearly not! I love mistake identity and misunderstandings! This one was especially twisty and dramatic!
In the end, I just really like Ayesha At Last. Perhaps I could have gotten more out of it by knowing the inspirational material, but I think it’s great on its own.