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The Bollywood Bride Paperback – September 29, 2015
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"A lush, emotional, vivid story about the power of first love told in a breathtaking, lyrical voice. Sonali Dev is one of a kind." - Kristan Higgins, New York Times Bestseller
About the Author
Sonali Dev's first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and written communication, migrating across the globe, and starting a family while writing for magazines and websites. With the advent of her first gray hair her love for telling stories returned full force, and she now combines it with her insights into Indian culture to conjure up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler. Sonali is an active member of RWA and WFWA. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world's most perfect dog. Visit her on the web at sonalidev.com.
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So begins the next chapter of her life: Ten months in an Indian boarding school, followed by two months of summer days spent with Vikram and Nikhil in Chicago. Her father visits when he can, but the other girls make fun of the strange, rumpled man. She keeps to herself and forms the ice princess mentality that allows her to survive Bollywood. Over time her friendship with Vikram becomes so much more and she is finally going to college a short train ride away. She has been sleeping with Vikram that summer and they plan to Marry when they graduate.
Another tragedy befalls her and a promise to her dying father plus Vikram's cruel mother force her to prostitute herself for a starring film roll to pay for an expensive asylum. When Vikram tries to change her mind, she sends him away to live his life without this hanging over him. Ten years later she returns to Chicago to see her beloved Aunt and Uncle and to witness Nikhil's marriage to his fellow surgeon Jennifer. Jennifer was adopted from Asia and never knew her real parents. Her adopted mother died and her father crawled into a bottle leaving her to be brought up in foster care. She loves wholeheartedly and wants to have a traditional ceremony to honor the traditions of the family who have accepted her so warmly. They both are surgeons operating in primitive conditions in Africa and only have a few weeks window bot pull together a big wedding.
No one knew what caused shy private Ria to become an actress and leave Vikram. Ria is afraid of seeing Vikram again, but looks forward to seeing her Aunt's circle of friends, the Aunties. Ten years has done nothing to dim the explosive relationship between Ria and Vikey. Vikram has become involved with an artist that Aunty does not approve of. Ria is also running from a possible scandal and blackmail. Combine those with a big wedding to pull off in a short time period and Vikram's motherboard and you have a pressure cooker that is sure to blow.
What I liked: I love Bollywood Movies! The respect for parents, the musical numbers and the HEA. If you have never seen one, start by Netflixing Bride and Prejudice. Some may think she is overly angsty, but everyone who has ever had to hide their family's dysfunction from the world can sympathize with Ria. Having been told she should never have been born by a society that does not always value women, Ria tries to control every aspect of her life until she too descends into madness.
Vikram is almost too perfect. Yet he falls apart the first time he loses something. He may not have had the whole story, but he should have known Ria better than he did.
Settle in and become involved in The Bollywood Bride...No present necessary.
Sonali Dev does a far better job than any romance author I have read so far in allowing Ria to really have problems, deep problems that she needs to face. And in Vikram, or Viky as Ria once when him, she finds a partner who can help her find a way to heal if she lets him. Though he's very hot and cold, I was really fond of Vikram. Also, even though much of the drama hinges on Ria not telling people things, it doesn't feel nearly as contrived as so many other books do. She really is terrified of her problems and has been trying to leave them behind for years and years. The trauma of her childhood is shameful to her because of how others have treated her, and it haunts her throughout the book.
The wedding is an event tying the whole book together, and it's a beautiful whirl of family, colors, fabrics and food. You really feel the community so strongly in this book, and you love all the aunties, cousins and friends.
FINAL DECISION: Dark and emotional but ultimately uplifting, THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE is darker in tone than Dev’s first book but infused with the same wonderful characterizations and sense of community and ultimately joy in life. Not an easy read, but a worthwhile one.
THE STORY: Ria Parker had loved Vitram Jathar when they were children. She knew, however, that they had no future and so she betrayed him and broke his heart. Ten years later, Ria is a successful Bollywood actress known as the Ice Princess because she doesn’t let anyone close. Her career has been scandal free until a paparazzi gets too close to her dark past. Returning to Chicago to attend a family wedding, Ria comes face to face with Vitram again. She knows that their being apart is best for Vitram but Ria can’t help but love the boy of her childhood and the man who hates her now.
OPINION: This book is sad and yet there is ultimately acceptance and hope. Ria is haunted by her family’s history and as a result has decided to spent her life alone. A casualty of that decision is Vitram. The two were childhood friends and young lovers together until Ria’s destiny tore them apart. I enjoyed the complexity of Ria. I didn’t like nor could I condone many of her decisions, but I certainly understood them. It is a special book that allows the reader to disagree with the character but comprehend their motivations. I liked Ria because she is an incredibly strong woman. She has dealt with so much in her life and tries to do her best.
Vitram is adorable. Strong and dedicated and yet gentle with those he loves, he makes a journey in this book. From anger, disappointment and hate, he opens himself up through forgiveness. Even before he understands Ria’s motivations, he forgives her.
Ria and Vitram have a serious and emotional chemistry from the moment they meet. They have no blinding moment of falling in love. The two have always loved one another – first as friends and then as lovers. The anger and pain that these two experience makes this a book that I had to read in bites and put down. The story is complicated and heartbreaking at times.
Dev has a distinctive voice. Her characters are immersed in their community and family. Readers of THE BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR will find this book darker and initially bleaker than that book. The story contemplates issues of destiny, identity, and family but always focuses on the characters. The desire to separate from one’s history, yet the inexorable pull back into the past is finally resolved when the characters accept the possibility of future pain but choose to be hopeful about the future.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it especially because of Dev’s strong, complex characters and unique view into Indian-American culture. My only downgrade of the book is because I wish that Vitram’s voice was more present. He is incredibly forgiving considering Ria’s actions and it would have been nice to understand more what was in his mind.
WORTH MENTIONING: Spoilers! This novel deals with mental illness is a realistic and painful manner.
CONNECTED BOOKS: THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE is a standalone.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
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