On Mar. 16, the romantic comedy “The Dating Plan” by Sara Desai will be released. The book follows our female lead, Daisy Patel, a desi woman who grew up — and lives in San Francisco. Male lead Liam Murphy was Daisy’s brother, Sanjay’s, best friend growing up. Despite this, Daisy has animosity toward Liam; he was supposed to take her to prom and for some reason, didn’t show. After 10 years of not speaking to each other, they meet at a tech conference.
Daisy’s ex, Orson, who her cousin, Layla, says “described his favorite art house film as a two-and-a half-hour phantasmagoria of bourgeoisie misery,” is at the conference and romantically involved with Daisy’s former boss. To resolve the awkwardness, Daisy agrees to kiss Liam. Plus, her doting aunt brought her a potential suitor to the conference, and she is tired of getting inundated requests from her family about who to marry. This interaction leads Daisy to announce that she and Liam are engaged — a fake engagement that will mutually benefit both: Daisy won’t have to meet any more suitors her family picked out and Liam can only inherit his distillery if he has a wife by his next birthday. Together, they devise a plan to go on enough dates to make the relationship believable. They go about it in an orderly, step-by-step process, from date one to their inevitable divorce.
In a way, some of the tropes reminded me of other romance novels I’ve read. To me, it was most reminiscent of the popular-girl-falling-for-the-nerd-in-adulthood trope from “Friends,” except genderbent. Daisy is a software engineer who always loved school and can quote classic literature. She has an obsession with Marvel, which sometimes extends to her clothing. The book notes, “Unlike Sanjay, who admired the superheroes for their otherworldly powers, Daisy loved how they were committed to saving the world, even though they were all broken inside.” This short sentence is a clear view into the symbolism of Marvel, and how it intertwines to Daisy’s personality. Liam is a venture capitalist who never went to college. They might be an odd couple, but they have shared history and their broken families were close.
“The Dating Plan” is truly a genderbent Ross and Rachel, the theme of high school status clearly important, despite being adults. The book explains, “Liam had never once indicated he felt anything more than brotherly affection for her. She was still the nerdy geek who’d spent lunches in the science lab, and Liam was still the guy who dated the most beautiful girls in school,” Daisy feels as though Liam is out of her league. Funny and endearing, this rom-com is perfect for anyone who wants to live out the fantasy of the popular kid falling for the nerdy kid in adulthood, like in “Friends.”
Not only do Daisy and Liam have chemistry – as all leads of romance novels do – but they also have impeccable banter. In one scene, she tells him, “I’m beginning to worry we might not both fit in my car given the size of your ego.” It is quips like these which make their engagement entertaining.
I laughed out loud while reading this book. One of Liam’s family members is hilarious. In fact, the reader gets to meet both Daisy and Liam’s extended family. One caveat? There were so many minor characters, including people at Daisy’s work, that it became difficult to keep track of everyone. Nevertheless, I would recommend this novel. It is heartwarming, sexy and funny. The desi representation is amazing, and so is the representation of mental health (Daisy has panic attacks). In third person limited, there weren’t many avenues for internal dialogue nor reflection, but “The Dating Plan” compensates for this with language filtered through the main characters. Overall, I am excited for when the book comes out so you can share in my positive reading experience of this flirty rom-com.