Maya’s Laws of Love by Alina Khawaja

Posted 30 March, 2024 by Heather in Audiobook, Blog, Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Book Review, Heather, Heather Book Review / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from the Spotify Premium, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Maya’s Laws of Love by Alina KhawajaMaya's Laws of Love by Alina Khawaja
Published by MIRA on March 26, 2024
Genres: Fiction / Muslim, Fiction / Romance / Contemporary, Fiction / Romance / Multicultural & Interracial, Fiction / Romance / Romantic Comedy
Pages: 400
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Spotify Premium, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
4.5 Stars

Maya Mirza’s unlucky-in-love past seems to be turning around when she ends up in an arranged marriage to the on-paper perfect man. But as she heads to her wedding in Pakistan, she finally meets the man of her dreams—and what could be more unlucky than that?

Murphy’s Law is simple: anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and no one knows that better than Maya Mirza.

Maya Mirza has always been unlucky in love. When she was in grade one, one of the mean girls told her crush that she liked him and he loudly proclaimed he hated her because she had cooties. When she was in grade six, she wrote her new crush an anonymous love letter, only to realize later she signed her name without realizing it. In grade twelve, she gathered the courage to ask out her crush, only to hurl all over him. Bottom line—romance sucks.

However, it seems like Maya’s luck may finally be turning up when she secures a marriage proposal from Imtiaz Porter. Imtiaz has everything—good family, great job, charming personality; everything, except Maya’s heart. But that’s okay. Love can grow after marriage, right?

Just when Maya thinks she’s finally broken her curse, it all comes crashing down when she gets on a plane to go to Pakistan for her wedding and ends up sitting next to Sarfaraz, a cynical divorce lawyer who clashes with her at every possible turn. When an unexpected storm interrupts her travel plans, Maya finds herself briefly stranded in Switzerland, and despite their initial misstep, she and Sarfaraz agree to stick together until they reach Pakistan.

Over the several days they travel together, disaster after disaster happens, from their bus crashing to having to travel on foot to getting mugged. However, the more time they spend together, the more Maya realizes she and Sarfaraz may have more in common than she thought. But of course, this is when she realizes her unlucky in love curse will always be with her—because how unlucky is it that she may have finally met the man of her dreams while on her way to her own wedding?

I have really enjoyed every single book I’ve read from HTP Books’ Winter 2024 Blog Tours so far, and MAYA’S LAWS OF LOVE by Alina Khawaja was no exception! I listened to the audiobook on Spotify, and the book hit all the right notes for me. Here’s an excerpt and my review follows.


Maya’s Law #1:

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

“Dr. Khan, you know how desi families are when it comes to weddings.” I lift my head from the back of the loveseat I’m lounging on. “Everything is an emergency. I feel like I spent all my breaks during the school year planning for this wedding. Once this whole fanfare is over, I’ll be able to focus on me for a change.”

My therapist’s office is very Zen, which I suppose all therapist’s offices should be. Three pale blue walls, with the last wall behind her desk being white. The desk, which she rarely sits behind during sessions, is long and gray. There’s some clutter: stray pens, a file stuffed with papers, a coffee cup that’s half-empty and looks like it’s been sitting there for a while. Hanging on the white wall are three white canvases with gorgeous Arabic calligraphy in shades of cerulean and gold. The only thing that seems out of place is the bright orange loveseat; it’s such a strange color for an office scheme, but according to my therapist, Dr. Zaara Khan, it was a gift from her uncle who leases the place, so she couldn’t refuse it. I hated the color when I first started coming here, but it’s grown on me so much I would defend it to anyone.

“Well, you know how much I love it when you take ‘me time,’” Dr. Khan says. She pushes her dark brown hair over her shoulder, and the fading sunlight streaming in through the window gives it a golden glow. “You need to be more aggressive about it.”

“Dr. Khan, I’m the daughter of a Pakistani,” I say, disbelief underlining my words. “I was raised to be a people pleaser.”

Dr. Khan winces, but she can’t contradict me. Her understanding of how Pakistani Muslim families work is exactly why I picked her over the other therapists my family doctor recommended. Dr. Khan knows what our culture is like, so she knows not to recommend certain things, and she also knows how to navigate situations when I barge into her office frantic about whatever my mom did this week to push my buttons. She straightens up. “And how are you feeling about the wedding?”

I bite my lip. “I’m excited.”

She flashes me a look of disapproval. “Maya, every time I ask you how you feel about your wedding—or about the details of your relationship—you brush it off.” She taps her pen against her notebook. “Now, as your therapist, I can’t push you to talk about it before you’re ready to, but we’ve been seeing each other for three months now, and nothing.”

“That’s because there’s nothing really to tell,” I insist. I sit up straighter in my seat. “Imtiaz and I met at university. We were in the same sociology class because we both needed a social science credit, and we were friendly to each other for the whole semester. But we weren’t great friends or anything; we sat next to each other and occasionally texted to ask for notes. He went on to med school, I went to teacher’s college, and then two years later when I wanted to teach abroad in South Korea, Ammi wouldn’t let me unless I got engaged first. And by a wild coincidence, Imtiaz was the first suitor my mom found. We remembered each other from school, and we remembered getting along well enough, so we went for it. It’s not exactly a fairy-tale romance, but it’s good enough for me.”

“And why isn’t it a fairy-tale romance?” Dr. Khan wonders, setting her chin on top of her fist. “By your own admission, you and Imtiaz met at a time in your lives when you were trying to figure out who you were as people and then went in two different directions, and then he ends up being the first rishta your mom finds for you.” She tilts her head. “Doesn’t that sound like fate to you?”

I squirm in place. “I guess,” I allow. “That doesn’t matter now anyway. Imtiaz is great. He’s kind, funny, and he’s going to be a surgeon, so job security.”

“I’m sure the security must make you feel really good,” Dr. Khan says. “I know how committed you are to having a plan for everything.”

“Of course.” I square my chin. “When you’re cursed like me, you have to think of every disaster scenario first.”

Dr. Khan’s sigh fills the office. “Maya, what did we talk about?”

I bite the inside of my cheek, but at her incessant stare, I give in. “It’s not the power of the curse, it’s the power you give the curse,” I recite.

Dr. Khan grins. “Exactly. You can think your bad-luck curse is real, but it all depends on how much you allow it to control you.”

I barely refrain from an eye roll. At least Dr. Khan didn’t try to dissuade me from my personal affirmation that I was cursed. My older sister, Hibba, thinks it’s all in my head, but I’ve grown up with the worst luck anyone could ever have.

Especially when it comes to romance. I’m twenty-eight, and I’ve never been in a real relationship. Okay, that’s also because dating is technically haram in Islam, so any time I even tried thinking about a boyfriend when I was a teen, Ammi would shut me down. Then, somehow, she was confused when I entered my twenties and couldn’t make conversation with boys.

“That’s what I have my laws for,” I remind Dr. Khan.

My laws—which all started with Murphy’s Law, the idea that anything that can go wrong will go wrong—are the only things that kept me sane while growing up. When I was a kid, it was mostly a joke; it was the only way I could make sense of all the bad stuff that happened to me. But eventually as I got older and bad things kept happening—especially in my love life—they were all I had.

“Why don’t we change the subject?” she suggests in a polite tone. “Tell me about Imtiaz. He must be excited to see you.”

“He only left a few days ago,” I start. “I’ll see him in a couple of days. My flight leaves on Sunday, so I’ll be in Pakistan by Monday.”

My therapist quirks a brow. “And are you ready to get married?”

I wrinkle my nose. “Of course I am. I wouldn’t be getting married if I weren’t. I thought that was obvious.”

“I’m being serious, Maya,” Dr. Khan says with a deep frown. “In the few months we’ve been together, you’ve rarely mentioned Imtiaz. You only talk about him when I bring him up. Don’t you wonder why that is?”

“It’s because I’m happy and comfortable about that area of my life,” I respond. “Why shouldn’t I be? If I had a problem with it, I’d talk about it.”

“And you don’t have a problem with it?”

“No!” I swallow back my frustration. “After spending my whole life wanting love but thinking I’m cursed to be alone forever, I found this great guy who, for some reason, wants to be with me.”

“Why is it for some reason?” Dr. Khan questions. “Usually, that reason is because he loves you. Does Imtiaz not love you?”

“He…does,” I say, though I don’t know how true that statement is. He’s said it to me, but sometimes it feels like it’s more out of obligation than anything, or else it feels platonic. “Plus, love isn’t always necessary in brown marriages. My mom always told me she fell in love after she got married.” I set my jaw. “Not that it did her any favors when Dad left.”

“Your dad may have left, but from what you’ve told me, it seems like she managed just fine raising two daughters,” Dr. Khan points out.

A smile graces my face. “Oh, yeah, she did a great job. My mom worked two jobs to keep the lights on and keep us fed. And even despite working all the time, she still found time to come to school events and spend time with Hibba Baji and me. She had to put providing for us first, yes, but she also prioritized being present in our lives. It must’ve really worried her to think that I was going to end up alone as I got older and had no success in finding a husband.”

Dr. Khan tilts her head. “And what’s so wrong with being alone?”

I snort. “You’re kidding me, right?”

When she stares at me in an I’m-not-kidding way, I gnash my teeth. “Dr. Khan, in the desi community, if you don’t get married, there’s something wrong with you.”

“What could possibly be wrong with someone not wanting to be married?” she asks.

“It reflects badly on you and your parents. My mom already doesn’t have the greatest track record in our community thanks to the whole spousal-abandonment thing. Do you know the kind of rumors people spread about her?” Heat rushes to my face. “That my mom was a cheater, that she was so annoying she drove him away, that there was something wrong with her for a man to have left her alone with two young daughters.”

I clench my hands into fists, my nails biting into the soft skin of my palm. “All of that aside, I just don’t want to be alone.” I sink back into the cushiony couch. “As much as I hate when she’s right, Hibba Baji mentioned once that Ammi isn’t going to be around forever, and I can’t stick to my sister’s side. She has her own family, and I want one, too, someday. And I don’t want to do it alone.”

Dr. Khan clicks her pen. “I think before you start worrying about other people loving you, you should consider loving yourself.”

“What do you mean?” I ask. “I love myself.”

She gives me a dubious look. “When’s the last time you did something for yourself?”

“I gave my mom a head massage yesterday.”

“And how was that something for you?”

“It meant I had a couple hours of quiet while she napped on the couch.”

I expect Dr. Khan to be upset with me because I am very obviously dodging her question, so I’m surprised to see her curl her lips inward while her breath hitches, like she’s trying hard to keep a laugh in. After a beat, she’s back to being professional. “Don’t think I don’t see what you’re doing. Be serious, please.”

I set my jaw. “I’m doing absolutely fine. I’m going to Pakistan in a couple of days. I’m having a destination wedding. I’m getting married. I’m the happiest I could ever be.”

Dr. Khan leans back in her seat. “Who are you trying to convince? Me or you?”

I open my mouth, but no sound comes out. Just as a stutter bursts from my throat, the timer on Dr. Khan’s phone goes off, signaling the end of our session. Dr. Khan sighs, but she presses Stop on the alarm.

I get to my feet before she can speak. “I’ll book another appointment when I get back from Pakistan.” I don’t make eye contact as I gather my things. “But I’ll be so wrapped up in postmarital joy that I don’t know when I’ll be able to see you again.”

“That’s fine,” she assures me. “I hope all goes well with the wedding.”

“Thanks,” I mumble in her direction. I grab my purse and head for the exit.

Dr. Khan’s voice stops me at the door. “But remember this, Maya,” she says. I steel myself, then look over at her.

She offers me a kind look, her fingers laced together. “No one is incapable of love, but we all have the ability to sabotage our own happiness, even if we don’t realize it.”

Excerpted from Maya’s Laws of Love by Alina Khawaja, Copyright © 2024 by Alina Khawaja. Published by MIRA Books.


My Thoughts:

MAYA’S LAWS OF LOVE is a fun, sweet, and very relatable novel. Maya Mirza thinks she’s unlucky in love, and in her culture, an arranged marriage is very much something that can happen. When she’s still not married in her mid-twenties and is just happy being a teacher, her mother decides it’s time for Maya to get married. Her future husband is a doctor who’s known Maya since college, so while they are a match on paper there might not be love between them. Her mother insists that love grows after marriage, so Maya sets off on a flight from her home in Canada to Pakistan to get married.

Maya is smart, funny, responsible, but she’s scared to death of relationships. She didn’t plan on meeting a surly, handsome lawyer on the flight overseas–or for her trip to Pakistan to go so wrong in so many ways. The trip is purse chaos, and Maya and Sarfaraz’ journey to get to Pakistan is steeped with unexpected twists and turns. And neither one thought they would fall for one another–even though Maya is engaged to be married in a few days.

I give MAYA’S LAWS OF LOVE a 4.5 out of 5. This is a romance between sunny/dark cloud disposition pair, and that in itself led to some very sweet times in the book. There’s a nice introduction to Muslim culture, but it does seem a bit North Americanized and toned down. While I’m a little familiar with desi and Muslim culture due to working with a very culturally diverse set of coworkers/students in the science field over the years, it was nice to get a bigger look through this work of fiction.  The final twist wasn’t unexpected, but the execution and further twists made it very fun to listen to.  This was a clean, fast, and fun listen for anyone who loves romance and diverse characters.



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About Alina Khawaja

Alina Khawaja is an author from Ontario, Canada, with a never-ending love-hate relationship with the snow. She is a graduate from the University of Toronto, where she majored in English and double minored in History and Creative Writing, and is now pursuing a Master’s degree in the Literacy of Modernity at Ryerson University. Alina can be found studying, writing, or bingeing k-dramas when she is not sleeping.

Find Alina Khawaja

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


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I'm a PhD chemist who loves sarcasm, music, and books-paranormal, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, and romance. Most of my free time is spent at the martial arts studio these days--whether practicing Combat Hapkido or reading books while watching my son's Taekwondo classes, or even working up a sweat with Kickboxing for fun. Goodreads

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