I have read so very many historical romances set in 19th century England which is, admittedly, totally my jam. Trying to broaden my choices, and after being sent a fantastic NPR program link by a friend called Pop Culture Happy Hour: The Romance Novel Special, I was ready to expand my horizons. A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev was $2.99 on Amazon and gave me a window to a culture (Indian) different from my own in a contemporary setting.
That was a good start, but it’s two months later and I don’t really remember much about the book except some vague impressions. I’ll let Amazon help me out with the plot:
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 naïve 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.
Amazon is bringing it’s A-game, even if I’m not.
I wanted to like Dev’s book and I enjoyed A Bollywood Affair while reading it, quite a lot as I recall since Mili’s a pip, but it hasn’t left a lasting impression leading me to revisit it. Going back soon after my initial reading has been a pretty accurate litmus test for me of how much I genuinely appreciated a novel. Here’s what I remember about A Bollywood Affair: Mili is hurt early in the story and as Samir is the only one around, so he helps take care of her. She’s petite, he’s tall. She’s clumsy, he catches her. She’s a victim of circumstance, he’s a tortured hero masquerading as a rake. He is smoking hot as is the way of romance – to which I say, “Brava” – and finds Mili irresistible. The action was a hodge-podge which is consistent with my extremely limited and therefore entirely invalid impression of Indian cinema based on one movie on an overnight flight to London, plus that kind of plotting is fairly typical for a lot of contemporary romances. So any guess that I make about Dev intentionally structuring it like a Bollywood film is likely wildly inaccurate, not to mention presumptuous, and I should remove it, but I want to keep it as review padding just in case I’m right.
That’s all I’ve got for now EXCEPT to say that if you know of any great romances featuring more diverse characters and cultures than one ordinarily finds in the genre, I welcome all recommendations. I’ve been looking and I will gladly l take suggestions for a starting point.