Sonali Dev: A Bollywood Affair

Sonali Dev’s delightful debut novel, A Bollywood Affair, begins with a wedding, a wedding that will complicate several lives and cause no end of emotional turmoil. The wedding takes place in a small rural village in India. The bride is four years old, the groom twelve. The groom’s ten-year-old brother watches the festivities with more interest than the groom displays, and tries to comfort the sobbing bride, at least until his ill-tempered and dictatorial grandfather drives him off.

A Bollywood AffairTwenty years later Mili considers herself a married woman, although she hasn’t seen her husband, Virat, since the day of the wedding. She dreams of the day her husband will return to claim her, but in the meantime her married status has allowed her to go to college, and she’s about to embark on a new adventure, an eight-month graduate course in sociology—in Michigan.

While Mili has been dreaming of her husband, now an officer in the Indian Air Force, he hasn’t given her a second thought, believing the barely remembered child-marriage has long since been annulled. When he finds out it hasn’t, his younger brother Samir, now a well-known Bollywood director (and equally well-known playboy) heads for Michigan to persuade the naïve little village girl to sign the annulment papers.

Of course what should be a simple task proves not to be. Mili may be a naïve village girl, but she’s also smart, educated, and determined to honor her obligations. Samir may be a cynical playboy, but there’s something about this girl, this unexpected sister-in-law, that forces changes he never expected in his view of life. While Mili tries to figure out what the future holds for her, Samir finds himself face to face with the past he has done his best to forget.

A Bollywood Affair is a charming and emotionally satisfying romance. It is also a fascinating look at various facets of Indian culture. We see life Mili’s tiny rural village and Samir’s in the sophisticated circles of Mumbai. And then there’s Ridhi, Mili’s Michigan roommate, happily balanced between two cultures: American enough to insist on marrying a man her family would have considered unsuitable back in India, but Indian enough to delight in an extravagant Indian wedding (in Columbus, Ohio).

I thoroughly enjoyed A Bollywood Affair—my only complaint is that I can’t taste any of the delicious-sounding Indian food Mili, Samir, and their friends enjoy throughout the story. I’ll be looking forward to Dev’s next book, The Bollywood Bride, due out in 2015.

Bollywood Books

The Lucky 13s group was abuzz last week with the news that one of our sisters, Sonali Dev, had made the Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014 e-originals list with A Bollywood Affair, a book that hasn’t even been released yet (look for it in a few days—official release date is October 28). I haven’t read it yet (I’ll be A Bollywood Affairsnapping up a copy when I can), so all I can tell you is that it’s a contemporary romance with Indian characters set in Michigan.

When I went to look at the list, I was also pleased to find Susan Kaye Quinn’s Third Daughter on it as well. Although Library Journal mysteriously tags the first volume of Quinn’s Dharian Affairs Trilogy as historical romance, it is actually Indian-flavored science fiction/steampunk/romance (Bollypunk?), set on a world with two moons, six-legged animals, and three Queendoms.

The Dharian Affairs

I read Third Daughter this summer, enjoyed it thoroughly, and reviewed it here. Last Monday, while spending the day at the local Toyota dealership while they performed the 30,000-mile maintenance rituals on my car (no complaints—they must be doing a good job, the car is still serving me well after more than ten years and 186,000 miles), I finished Second Daughter, which ended on such a cliffhanger that I immediately started on First Daughter, the third book in the trilogy (immediate gratification, thanks to my Kindle).

The books are so full of twists and turns that I don’t want to give any of them away. Aniri, the Third Daughter of the Queendom of Dharia, is the protagonist of all three books, and her bumpy romance with the Prince of the mountainous northern Queendom, carries through the trilogy. Her sister Seledri, the Second Daughter, is married to the First Son of the Queendom of Samir, and her dangerous situation, and Aniri’s attempts to help her, drive Second Daughter. Seledri will be Queen of Samir one day—if she survives long enough. As problems mount, Nahali, the First Daughter and future Queen of Dharia becomes involved—but whose side is she on?

All three books are full of romance, adventure, swords and blunderbusses, and skyships. Buy all three—you won’t want to wait for the next one.

Next Newer Entries