Miss Bates starts her fourth reviewing year (woo hoo!) with a new-to-her author, Sonali Dev, and the second novel in her “Bollywood” series, The Bollywood Bride. Ria Parkar is the eponymous bride, a Bollywood star with a past to hide and secrets to protect. When the novel opens, Ria struggles with painful memories of a childhood gone awry because of her mother’s mental illness and father’s grief. She struggles with the memory of betraying and abandoning Vikram Jathar, the great love of her life. She struggles with the sexual exploitation she endured to “make it” in Bollywood. Ria is a tormented figure; she’s on edge, unraveling, losing control. When a paparazzo takes a picture of her attempting suicide (she didn’t, she was reaching for a dropped cell phone), she flees to Nikhil’s, her cousin’s, Chicago wedding to avoid the publicity. As we soon learn, Ria doesn’t care what India’s papers say about her; her fears are deeper and more personal. In Chicago, amidst elaborate Indian-wedding traditions (the Bride‘s fun part), she encounters the young love she cast aside. Vikram is bigger, meaner, and angrier (at her) than his loving, optimistic twenty-one year old self ever suggested he’d be and it’s Ria’s fault. Keeping a cool distance, though as vulnerable to him as she was ten years ago at eighteen, Ria wants to ensure she won’t hurt “Viky” as she did then. Continue reading
Winnie Griggs’s A Family For Christmas encompasses the strengths and weaknesses of the inspirational and category romance. As such, there was much that Miss Bates liked and a modicum she didn’t: this is, she admits, a trite statement. However, every time she reads an inspirational category romance, she struggles to articulate how it can occasionally ring false in the telling and, at the same time, how attractive and positive its ethos can be. On the one hand, there is a preciousness to the world of the inspirational that requires a suspension of belief akin to paranormal romance! On the other hand, there is an ethos of love and acceptance that, if it’s not preachy and is coupled with honesty about physical attraction and a loosening of puritanical mores, can be quite appealing.
Blend the pros and cons of the inspirational with that of the category romance and the combination in Griggs’s novel is typical: there is succinctness and tightness to the writing and a well-thought-out plot, familiar and comforting, with the unfortunate propensity to leave interesting elements under-developped and present characters with strange and sudden turnabouts (pun intended) in behaviour. Griggs’s A Family For Christmas, guilty as charged. And yet … and yet … Miss Bates loves Christmas-set romances and enjoyed this one. Continue reading as Miss Bates completes her thoughts about Griggs’s historical romance