cover image Maya’s Laws of Love

Maya’s Laws of Love

Alina Khawaja. Mira, $17.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-7783-0524-8

Khawaja’s smart and nuanced debut finds Maya Mirza, 28, convinced she’s been romantically cursed—something she hopes to correct when she boards a bargain airline flight heading for Pakistan and her arranged marriage to a medical student named Imtiaz. Her seatmate is prickly family lawyer Sarfaraz Porter, who has a decidedly negative view of romance. After a storm necessitates an unexpected layover in Switzerland, Maya and Sarfaraz forge an unlikely friendship. Things between them heat up when they finally arrive in Pakistan and are subsequently robbed on an aborted bus ride from Islamabad to Karachi, necessitating a sojourn in a small village where they’re forced to pretend to be married. Soon after, with the memory of their time together fresh in her mind, Maya at last meets Imtiaz and his family—and gets quite a shock. The author notes in her foreword that her goal is “to show Pakistani Muslim women that they’re worthy of whirlwind, heart-fluttering romances”—and she succeeds in spades. Skillful plotting, appealing characters, and snappy prose mark Khawaja as a writer to watch. Agent: Uwe Stender, Triada US. (Mar.)