Title: The Contract
Author: Zeenat Mahal
# of pages: 110
Link to Buy: Amazon.in
Zeenat Mahal is the #1 bestselling romance author of She Loves Me He Loves Me Not, Haveli, The Accidental Fiancee, Twice Upon a Time, The Historian and the Hunter and The Contract. She has an MFA in creative writing from Kingston University London. She writes and teaches creative writing in Lahore. She likes to stay in touch with her readers via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
“…We’ll get married, but I’ll pay you a monthly salary to behave and appear for all practical purposes as my wife…If you agree, the marriage vows can be taken on the phone on Saturday, since I have an hour free in the morning.”
Shahira, a young, divorced mother of a seven-year-old son, wants nothing to do with men ever again. But circumstances have forced her hand, and Hussain’s unusual proposition leaves her secretly relieved. As per their contract, she’ll have his name, will be paid to look after his ailing mother and motherless daughter and will be left well alone by him. Perfect!
Until her new husband decides to stop playing by the rules.
Hussain is suave and rich. He is nobody’s fool…and is not about to be bested by the ex-schoolteacher he is married to. He has Shahira in his sights and she has to have all her wits about her in order to hold him at arm’s length.
‘The Contract’ was literally how I found about GoodReads.
Back in January 2018, I was ready with a few draft novellas as well as a list of catchy titles ready. I, however, wanted those titles to be unique. I googled a couple and viola, the second one ‘Terms and Conditions Apply’ was taken. What surprised me more was that the writer was a Muslim. The story features Muslim protagonists. And it was based on one of my favourite romance tropes – contract marriage or marriage of convenience. Could it be more of a coincidence? You may wonder why I am obsessed with contract marriages but now it not the time, so sssshhhh.
As I was saying, I clicked on the google result and it took me to Goodreads.
I didn’t read the book then, though.
Plot & Review
The book is about Shahira who has been divorced after an abusive marriage. Hussain has his own demons. Circumstances force them to agree to a contract marriage.
It is a typical Urdu digest story when two single parents come together to a marriage of convenience.
The writer pays attention to create a detailed back story for both Shahira and Hussain. Shahira had an abusive marriage. Hussain’s wife thrived on sleeping around. Hussain was no saint, either.
It is a story where we know how it is going to end. I liked the other nuances like how Hussain’s mother, Salma plays cupid so they can spend more time together. She was quite a drama queen. There are some witty lines in the book, my favourite is Salma’s act.
And bless his mother, she was quick to cough up a fit worthy of a tuberculosis patient, as she said with a breathlessness that was pitiful to watch, “Really Shahira…you can’t expect
me… cough… cough…to accompany…you,” a wheezy breathy pause, “young…people. I’m too old. Cough.
Another benefit of being written in English, in my opinion, is that the author could give details when Shahira and Hussain finally get together. The Urdu versions cannot and do not talk about libido and orgasms and stuff. Generally.
Like I said, it is a typical story but narrative is so vivid. I love the language. Even the most mundane things sound better.
The book is short. It is an easy and quick read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.