Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Challenges: NetGalley and Edelweiss ARCs
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Kobo | iTunes* | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from goodreads:
"A fresh new voice." --Susan Elizabeth Phillips, New York Times bestselling author
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.
I love reading books that share insights into other cultures, whether they be subcultures within the US or entirely separate cultures around the world. It was a big draw toward picking this book up, and it didn't disappoint. It actually showed a bit of both, looking at India as well as the way Indian immigrants have adapted to life in the US. I enjoyed that immensely.
It took a bit longer to become as engrossed in the story itself. While it's good for book to dole out back story slowly, it took far longer to get to the heart of Vikram and Ria's difficulties than I liked. There were moments where I just wanted to shake them both. Not to mention their families and friends. The number of not-so-secret secrets, lying to save face, and so forth, has quite the ring of truth to it. I know my large, close knit extended family has a similar structure for handling shocking or possibly scandalous topics. I find it as frustrating in fiction as I do in life. In the long run, it makes the ending more satisfying, to me.
I found this book to be far more thought provoking than I expected. Mental illness, prejudice, self sacrifice and finding one's true passion in life. Not at all what I thought I'd be getting in a quick romance book. I had not heard about Dev's previous work, so this was a blind leap. I'm glad I took it. While I would hesitate to call this a must read, it most certainly is one worth picking up.
There was so much praise and fuss when Dev's debut book, "A Bollywood Affair" came out last year that when a publicist offered this book for review, I jumped at it. I wanted to see the fuss about Dev for myself (I have "A Bollywood Affair" in my TBR, waiting its turn).
I read the book in one afternoon, in one sitting really. It was hard to relate to Ria at times, she's emotionally distant and has many secrets she's keeping from various people. There are so very many secrets, and not all of them are Ria's. But she has reasons for shutting herself off from other people. I agree with Jax that Dev took a long time to get to the heart of the matter; it was frustrating at times. I wanted the pace to be a little faster. As Dev slowly pulled back the layers, I became both impatient and steadily more invested in Ria and Vikram's story. I admit, at first I didn't like Vikram. He spent the first third of the book being an asshole but he slowly turned himself around and I ended up liking him quite a bit.
Like Jax, I loved seeing life in India, a country I would love to visit some day, as well as what life is like for some Indians living in the USA. The daily details, the food, the wedding rituals, all added texture and depth to the story. I did get frustrated with the Indian attitude towards mental illness and my heart broke for those characters. The portrayal of Ria's family was sweet and made me laugh, smile,and tear up. They're not a perfect family, they make mistakes, but they love each other and care for each other. Dev gives us more than a second chance romance, addressing culture, mental illness, secrets, forgiveness, sacrifice, and finding your passion. "The Bollywood Bride" was gripping, intense, angsty, and emotional. I need to push "A Bollywood Affair" higher up my TBR pile.