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.
A Bollywood Affair was one of my favorite reads of 2014 and I knew that I’d be wanting to get my hands on Ms. Dev’s sophomore effort and I wasn’t disappointed. The Bollywood Bride is as sweet, witty, fun and emotionally charged as A Bollywood Affair, but with a darker tone to it. While unexpected, it wasn’t unwelcome in the least because the writing is still just as strong and vibrant as she brings the story to life.
Ria is a complex character. On the surface she is Bollywood’s ‘Ice Princess’ and comes across as cold and untouchable, but underneath it all she’s a tight little ball of anxiety and that anxiety jumped off the page and I started to feel anxious with her. What she went through as a child was hellish and stigma of it all has colored her existence and while I didn’t agree with quite a few of her choices, I also couldn’t fault her for them entirely.
Vikram I actually hated in the beginning. It’s a horrible thing to admit but he was a class A asshat and even after knowing what had happened to cause him to act in the way that he did I still couldn’t excuse his actions, but as the story progresses and he works through his bitterness we get to see the man that Vikram really is and in the end I found him to be quite likeable and sweet.
Their road to getting to their HEA was quite an emotional rollercoaster ride, even after Vikram got over his bitterness. He wanted to move forward but Ria’s insistence at saving him from what her possible fate could be caused quite a bit of angst throughout. But Vikram proved to be quite determined to keep her in his life and showed her that he was hers and that he’d stand by her no matter what the future brought.
What kept the story from going into full blown angsty territory were the secondary cast of characters who brought levity, light and warmth to balance out the darker moments. The Auntie brigade, Uma and Vijay, Ria’s Aunt and Uncle, and Nikhil and Jen brought home that family feel to the story and made me wish I was there with them as they prepared for Nikhil’s and Jen’s wedding.
The writing, as with A Bollywood Affair, was engaging and well done that I truly felt like I was apart of the story. I could feel the characters emotions, see the vibrant colors of the outfits that were described and got hungry as the various dishes were talked about in the story. And I was impressed with how the issue of mental illness was handled and the stigma that surrounds those who suffer from it and how it affects those around them.
The Bottom Line: This book definitely brought out all the feels in me, but I enjoyed it and can’t wait to see what the author will come out with next.
~ARC received from Kensington Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review~
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.