"She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" by Zeenat Mahal

Who Should Read This: Romance fans, those who love fairy tales.

For years, Zoella has been in love with her best friend’s older brother Fardeen.  But ever since they were kids, Fardeen barely registered that she was there.  And why would he?  He’s engaged to a gorgeous socialite named Neha from the upper echelons of society and Zoella will never be able to match her.  Now that she’s of marrying age, Zoella needs to put her crush behind her.

But a car accident leaves Fardeen scarred and disfigured.  No longer the handsome prince everyone thought he was, his fiancée has left him and he has pushed away everyone around him.  When Zoella falls on hard times, Fardeen’s family propose a solution that will give both of them a second chance - marriage.

This Fardeen is not the man that Zoella fell in love with though.  He’s hard and bitter, lashing out at everyone around him, especially her.  When an opportunity to return to Fardeen to the man he once was presents itself, he realizes what a terrible man he was to her.  But it’s too late for Zoella.  He has pushed her past her limits and she is ready to show Fardeen just what a beast he has been.  

She Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Zeenat Mahal is a modern day version of Beauty and the Beast.  Taking place in Pakistan, it gives a new and unique cultural twist to a story we’re all familiar with.

With the re-telling of a fairy tale, you always wonder what is going to make it stand out and what is going to make it different from all the other versions out there.  In this book, it’s the beautiful South Asian culture that sets it apart from the rest.  Mahal brings it to life on the page without making readers of other cultures feel lost or out of sync with the story.

Fardeen and Zoella were very interesting characters for me.  I loved Zoella right from the start and I loved how we watched her grow into her strength throughout the book.  I think that for those of us in the West, it can be easy to stereotype women from South Asian cultures based on what we see and hear in the media and Zoella provides us with a true and opposite view.  

Fardeen was someone who was difficult to like, though that’s the point right?  But my goodness, if you ever want to reach through the pages and slap a character, Fardeen is it.  And toward the end of the book you may feel like Zoella needs one too.  Just when I thought that characters were going to kiss and make up, more difficulties abounded.  It was a little frustrating for me, I couldn’t figure out if it was just to keep the book going a little longer or if it was necessary for the story.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect release date for this romantic novel.  In a world that is going crazy over a different type of romance novel and movie, it is refreshing to read a story that is a modern but classic romance.  Some stories stand the test of time and popularity and Mahal proves that with this wonderful re-telling.  

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher, Indireads.  The opinions expressed above are my own.


  1. Many thanks Shan. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Sounds intriguing and with Pakistan as its setting has to be interesting.

    1. Yes, I love that it is set in Pakistan, such a unique take on the story and a great way to learn about the culture.


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