Second Chance Love For THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE

Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a newly released contemporary romance from bestselling author Sonali Dev. THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE is a reconnection romance between two people whose lives went astray after their families got involved. It features Ria, a Bollywood star, and her forsaken love, Vik, meeting at the wedding of their mutual cousin Nik after a ten year separation. It is tender and torrid, and deals with mental illness and the Indian community.

The Bollywood BrideAbout the book:

Ria Parkar is Bollywood’s favorite Ice Princess–beautiful, poised, and scandal-proof–until one impulsive act threatens to expose her destructive past. Traveling home to Chicago for her cousin’s wedding offers a chance to diffuse the coming media storm and find solace in family, food, and outsized celebrations that are like one of her vibrant movies come to life. But it also means confronting Vikram Jathar.

Ria and Vikram spent childhood summers together, a world away from Ria’s exclusive boarding school in Mumbai. Their friendship grew seamlessly into love–until Ria made a shattering decision. As far as Vikram is concerned, Ria sold her soul for stardom and it’s taken him years to rebuild his life. But beneath his pent-up anger, their bond remains unchanged. And now, among those who know her best, Ria may find the courage to face the secrets she’s been guarding for everyone else’s benefit–and a chance to stop acting and start living.

Rich with details of modern Indian-American life, here is a warm, sexy, and witty story of love, family, and the difficult choices that arise in the name of both.

My Review:
I really enjoyed many aspects of this second-chance romance.

Ria is a Bollywood star, with a reputation as an Ice Princess. She has no trysts, and only a few skeletons–a casting couch issue and her clinically insane mother who beat her near to death as a child and killed her father after setting their home on fire. The press hounds her and catches her in a compromising position on her balcony–but her manager has it handled…for now.

In the meantime Ria’s cousin Nikhal is getting married and she’s being summoned back the the only real home she ever knew: her aunt and uncle’s house in suburban Chicago. Problem? Nik’s other cousin, Vikram, will surely be there. And Ria and Vik had a bold love affair ten years ago that ended REALLY REALLY badly. Ria hurt Vik super, duper bad (it was for his own good!!!) and he’s not likely to let that go.

First, and foremost, I loved the Indian cultural aspects–from tumultuous Mumbai to the Chicagoland settings. The relationships were delightfully depicted. All the auntie’s and uncle’s weighing in on the proceedings. All the families of their community being so close-knit is an accurate representation of first-gen immigrants here in Chicagotown. I’ve had many experiences with the Indian community (even dated a young Indian man as a girl) and they are a lively and loving group. Be prepared to lose track of the accessory characters…there are many and they all have actual names and nicknames.

Second, I loved how loving this part of Ria’s family is. Everyone embraces everyone else with open arms. Nik’s fiance is Chinese, but she is so captivated by Nik’s family that she plans a proper Hindu wedding. Ria’s expertise (having been a bride in about 20 Bollywood films) is indispensable and welcomed.

It’s not all sunshine and samosas, however. Vik’s absolutely furious with Ria, still, after ten years. He lost his youthful heart to her, and it set his whole life off course, in his parents’ opinions.

Anywho, Ria’s a big celebrity in the Chicago Indian community, and she’s aloof but gracious, as always. Inside, she’s a wreck. She’s still gone over Vik, who’s a Class A Jackass to her and his current girlfriend. I get that he’s had it rough, but I half expected him to demand sati over the pyre of his broken heart. He’s ice-cold, then luke warm, then cold, then burning hot, and it’s a lot to take in. Especially for Ria who’s not sure she’s altogether there, mentally. Remember, her mom’s crazytown, and everyone said she was normal until she gave birth. And the same was said about her maternal grandmother. Ria “comes from insanity” so she can never be a true partner to anyone, least of all her beloved Vik.

I think the ending was spectacular. And I was so glad that there was some happiness for Ria, and for Vik (though this was less of a priority for me). By the end I didn’t dislike Vik anymore, and I really, really liked Ria. I know she’s supposed to be hesitant, and second-guessing due to her fears of insanity, but it got to be a little much. She clearly drove herself to obsessive-compulsive behaviors in her contemplation of her mental health. Which, was NOT GOOD.

That said, I loved the culture, I loved the family, and I liked the romance, which heated up quite nicely. I wanted more likable main characters, but I got human ones with reasonable frailties instead, and that’s pretty okay, too.

Interested? You can find THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Also in libraries and discount booksellers like Target, Walmart, etc. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

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 mad 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 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.

You can find Sonali online on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends.

Celebrating Bollywood! Interviews and Giveaway

Romance and Intrigue: Bollywood Style Giveaway
Something Bollywood Going On Here

Sonali Dev and Susan Kaye Quinn met in a most unusual place: Library Journal’s Top 10 E-Romance List for 2014. Sonali’s A Bollywood Affair and Susan’s Third Daughter both made the list with their Bollywood-themed romances – something that was so cool, it cried out to be celebrated!

Scroll down to win some great Bollywood-themed prizes!
Contemporary and Steampunk Bollywood Romance

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Mili Rathod hasn’t seen her husband in twenty years–not since she was promised to him at the age of four. Yet marriage has allowed Mili a freedom rarely given to girls in her village. Her grandmother has even allowed her to leave India and study in America for eight months, all to make her the perfect modern wife. Which is exactly what Mili longs to be–if her husband would just come and claim her.
Bollywood’s favorite director, Samir Rathod, has come to Michigan to secure a divorce for his older brother. Persuading a naive village girl to sign the papers should be easy for someone with Samir’s tabloid-famous charm. But Mili is neither a fool nor a gold-digger. Open-hearted yet complex, she’s trying to reconcile her independence with cherished traditions. And before he can stop himself, Samir is immersed in Mili’s life–cooking her dal and rotis, escorting her to her roommate’s elaborate Indian wedding, and wondering where his loyalties and happiness lie.
The Third Daughter of the Queen wants to her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing.

I have read and loved all the books in this series. Aniri is a fantastic character, and her fearless devotion to her family and friends leads her on a journey that risks much and saves her world from war. Eventually… Click the titles for my reviews on THIRD DAUGHTER, SECOND DAUGHTER, and FIRST DAUGHTER.

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Romance and Intrigue: Bollywood Style

This short Q&A with Sonali and Susan talks about marrying for love and writing romance!

Q: Marrying for love is a modern, and in some ways Western, concept, but arranged marriages have a long and complicated history. How does your novel tackle the subject of arranged marriage?

Sue: Third Daughter is set in a fantasy world, but it’s a blend of cultures in the real one, including being an analog to India (both current day and some of the past). In the Dharian Affairs world, royal marriages have a history of being arranged for political purposes, but the general population of the countries marry for love. This leaves the titular Daughters with varying conflicts between marrying for duty and marrying for love ñ some embracing their arranged marriages, some fighting against it. The marriage dynamics of the three daughters in the trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter) drive much of the story- along with political intrigue and skyships, of course!
Sonali: In India where I grew up arranged marriages are still very much a part of the fabric of the culture. Having said that, one of the most interesting and unique things about Indian society is how diverse it is within itself. While you still have communities and families who will give the marrying person absolutely no say in whom they marry there are those who don’t believe their parents and families have any say when it comes to whom they choose to marry or live with, and then there is the rest of the sizable population who falls somewhere between those two belief systems. In A Bollywood Affair, Mili is from a tiny village from a very orthodox family and it is perfectly natural that her family would arrange her marriage. She would expect that. It wouldn’t even strike a girl from her background that she could choose for herself. The age at which she was married isn’t usual, though, but there is a reason why her grandmother gets her married that young. As for her being in love with her husband, again, the conditioning to be devoted to your husband is so ingrained in the culture that it would be strange if someone like Mili didn’t love someone she believed was her husband. 
Q: Whether set in a fantasy world or the modern one, romance is romance! There are many romance tropes–star-crossed lovers, lovers thrown together by circumstance, enemies turned lovers–what kind(s) of romance tropes does your novel contain?

Sue: My books are really a blend of romance and adventure, although the first book is a classic ‘lovers thrown together by circumstance’ as Aniri (the Third Daughter) goes undercover in accepting a marriage proposal from the barbarian prince in the north in order to spy on him and determine if his country truly has the rumored flying machine that would upend the political dynamics in both their countries.
Sonali: Although I didn’t set out to write it that way, several readers have pointed out that A Bollywood Affair is a Worldly Rake and an Ingenue Virgin trope. And now that I think about it, there’s truth to that. 
Q: Are you planning on writing more romances in this story-world? If so, tell us about it!

Sue: The Dharian Affairs trilogy is complete, but I’ve enjoyed writing in this east-Indian steampunk fantasy romance world so much, I’ve decided to do a follow-on trilogy from the point of view of a new character–a female tinker who has a grand invention that may change the world, but also is caught between the spy she might love and the spy she can’t resist. Those books likely won’t be written for a year or two, but I will cycle back to writing in this world in the future!
Sonali: The Bollywood Bride comes out next year and it’s the story of a Bollywood star who comes home to Chicago after ten years to escape a scandal in Mumbai and comes face to face with the man she betrayed for stardom. And then there are two more stories I’m working on in the same series. Which isn’t a series in terms of continuity or overlapping characters but because the stories are set in the same world and either the hero or the heroine work in Bollywood. 
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WIN BOLLYWOOD PRIZES
Paperback of Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)
The Dharian Affairs Trilogy in Ebook
2 Paperback copies of A Bollywood Affair 
Handwoven Pashmina shawl from India
Sticker Henna Tattoos
Indian bangles (bracelets)
(all physical prizes are US ONLY; ebook is INTERNATIONAL)

***GIVEAWAY***

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Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!