About the Book:
Publication Date: April 18, 2023
Synopsis:An impulsive decision to join an Alaskan cruise getaway brings the chance for an onboard romance in this new enemies-to-lovers romance from the author of A Holly Jolly Diwali.
Jasmine Randhawa likes everyone to think she has it all—great job, perfect Seattle apartment, and a handsome boyfriend. But she’s not as confident or successful as she seems, and her relationship is at a breaking point.
When Jasmine finds herself single and tagging along on her parents’ vacation, she’s not sure her life can get any farther off course. It’s a nightmare for someone who’s been so fiercely independent to find herself on a cruise full of family friends who’ve judged her since childhood. Things only get worse once the ship leaves the harbor and she realizes that this is a seniors’ cruise, and the only other person under fifty on the entire boat is her childhood acquaintance, cocky and successful Jake Dhillon.
Jasmine and Jake clash right away, with Jasmine smarting over how their South Asian community puts him on a pedestal as the perfect Indian son, whereas her reputation as a troublemaker precedes her. Except they can’t avoid each other forever during the ten-day cruise, and they soon recognize a surprising number of similarities, especially in how many secrets they’re keeping hidden from their families. Their restlessness seems to disappear whenever they’re together, but is this relationship strong enough to last on land?
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Jasmine and Jake Rock the Boat is a fun and heartwarming contemporary romance with dynamic characters, a gorgeous setting, and a wonderful love story.
In the story, Jasmine finds herself on a cruise with her parents and a bunch of meddlesome aunties and uncles. Since Jasmine recently broke up with her long-time boyfriend, she has no place to live. Pushed to take her vacation days, Jasmine sees the cruise as the perfect escape even though her parents didn’t really invite her. Unbeknownst to her, however, it is a senior cruise, and the only other person under 50 on the cruise is Jake, who Jasmine babysat when they were younger. Now, Jake’s all grown up and awaiting results from his bar exam.
When Jasmine first meets Jake, they do not hit it off. She sees the same cocky, arrogant attitude her ex had. As they spend more time together, they see past the superficial, and their feelings start to grow. But they’re on a cruise with their families. Jasmine is also older than Jake, and she babysat him once upon a time. Plus, she just got out of a relationship, and her life is a little chaotic. She finds a million reasons not to go forward with Jake, but her heart is telling her to take a risk. She is so conflicted, and the comical, antagonistic, and goading banter shows it. They have the best back-and-forth that highlights all of their chemistry and sexual tension.
The story is definitely a romance, but the focus is really on Jasmine’s growth as a character. She learns a lot about herself during the cruise, and I think she takes a hard look at herself and her relationships with her parents and her ex. Jasmine has always felt she was a disappointment to her parents, and they have a very strained relationship. The outcast of her family, Jasmine struggles with confidence and self-worth because of the years of judgment, disapproval, and berating she received. She goes through an amazing amount of growth over the course of the story, and the cruise that seemed like it was going to be a dull and unpleasant time becomes an experience of a lifetime and an opportunity to med old hurts and start new relationships. At first, I felt like Jasmine was immature, and I didn’t really understand her. However, I ended up really liking her and thought she had a lot of depth.
Unlike Jasmine, Jake has always been treated like the golden boy. He can do no wrong. However, this comes with its own pressures, and Jake has familial expectations and responsibilities too. I thought the author did a great job of highlighting the double standards that Jasmine faces while also revealing how both characters struggle with the labels placed upon them and the inability to be seen as anything but those labels.
There are a lot of other great messages and themes that I think readers will relate to. Trying to live up to the expectations of others, struggling with family scrutiny and pressures, break-ups, taking a chance on love, healing, and forgiveness are all woven seamlessly through the plot. I like that, though the story tackles some tough issues, it’s balanced well with other more lighthearted and empowering moments.
Special thanks to Berkley Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- The romance.
- The character growth.
- The messages.
“You see your flaws very clearly,” he whispered. “I wish you could see all your strengths, too.”
- forced proximity
- reverse age gap
- cruise ship setting