Bollywood Books 1, 2 & 3 by Sonali Dev: Bite-Sized Reviews

January 4, 2018 Reviews 16

Yesterday, I reviewed A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev. As I was about to start reading the book for the tour, though, I realized that this was a series (even though each book can stand alone), and I usually hate to read series out of order. I already owned the first book, and the second and third books were available through my library via Overdrive. I was sick and couldn’t do much besides read anyway, so I decided to just dive in and read all four! And it’s official: Sonali Dev now has a new fan!!

Bollywood Books 1, 2 & 3 by Sonali Dev: Bite-Sized ReviewsA Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Series: Bollywood #1
Also in this series: , A Distant Heart
Published by Kensington on October 28th 2014
Genres: Adult, Romance
Pages: 294
Source: Purchased
My content rating: 18+ (Explicit sex)
My rating:
3.5 Stars

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.

Heartfelt, witty, and thoroughly engaging, Sonali Dev’s debut is both a vivid exploration of modern India and a deeply honest story of love, in all its diversity.


My Take copy3

This book introduces us to Mili, a small town girl who has yearned her whole life for the love of a husband she’s only met once as a child. She was married off at the age of four and has spent her life preparing to be a good wife, but her husband hasn’t come to claim her. She goes to America to gain an education that will make her worthy of being an officer’s wife. Samir is her husband’s brother—a Bollywood writer who has lost his muse. He goes to America to convince Mili to sign annulment papers, but he doesn’t realize that Mili has been raised to consider herself married and is dedicated to her husband.

I really loved getting both perspectives in this book. It would be easy to see Mili as being naive or strange for holding so tightly to a marriage that took place when she was four, but her POV helps us see why she would feel that way. Why she holds her family’s position and traditions in such high regard. But we also see the world through Samir’s eyes—he grew up in a very different India than Mili did, and he doesn’t see the world the same way. This cultural clash helps us see both sides of the story.

This book was entertaining and gave me insight into Indian culture, and I really enjoyed it. It did have a few flaws, though—the whole basis of Mili and Samir’s relationship is that she has a sprained ankle and wrist and he ends up helping her. But she comes off as a bit helpless, and she basically needs him to save her all the time. And of course Samir doesn’t just tell Mili why he’s there (because then we’d have no book), but this sort of deception feels a little cliche (not to mention uncomfortable when things heat up between the two of them). Still, overall, I enjoyed this one.

Bollywood Books 1, 2 & 3 by Sonali Dev: Bite-Sized ReviewsThe Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev
Series: Bollywood #2
Also in this series: , A Distant Heart
Published by Kensington on September 29th 2015
Genres: Adult, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Library
My content rating: 18+ (Explicit sex)

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.


My Take copy3

This second book is probably my least favorite in the series, but I still found it to be a quick and interesting read. My favorite part of the book was the Indian-American culture. Since it takes place during a wedding, we get lots of details about the preparation and the traditions and everything that goes into an Indian wedding. I really liked the bride and groom as well, and their friendship with Ria is delightful. Unfortunately, I felt like the romance was a little overwrought—it was one of those cases where the MC keeps a secret about her past and she can’t be with her true love because she would bring his downfall. Once we learn everything that happened to Ria, it’s understandable, to an extent, but it sometimes felt a little melodramatic. I did enjoy the mystery of Ria’s past as it unraveled, though, and I was definitely rooting for her and Vikram to find their way back to each other.

Bollywood Books 1, 2 & 3 by Sonali Dev: Bite-Sized ReviewsA Change of Heart by Sonali Dev
Series: Bollywood #3
Also in this series: , A Distant Heart
Published by Kensington on September 27th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Library
My content rating: 18+ (Explicit sex)
My rating:
4 Stars

Dr. Nikhil 'Nic' Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.

Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.

Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy.  She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.

Delving beyond the surface of modern Indian-American life, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s page-turning novel is both riveting and emotionally rewarding—an extraordinary story of human connection, bravery, and hope.


My Take copy3

This book had a distinctly different feel from the first two. It felt a little more like a romantic thriller than a pure romance, and I appreciated the element of mystery and danger. From the beginning, we know that Jess is lying to Nikhil (who we met in book #2), but we don’t know to what extent or what the end game is. Who is pulling her strings and why? How far will she go to get what she wants and what will be the consequences if she fails? It would be easy to hate Jess. Since we get her POV, though, we see her fierce love for her son and we understand how torn she is over what she’s doing.

Poor Nikhil is not the guy we knew in book two. He’s a tortured soul because of Jen’s death and it’s hard to imagine anyone getting through to him. Jess does, though—slowly (which was perfect). I was eager to find out how things would end for these two! My only complaint was that the conflict between Jess and Nikhil was resolved a little too easily. But I was generally enthralled with the story, and it put me in the perfect mood to keep reading with A Distant Heart!

So, A Distant Heart is definitely my favorite, but the whole series is a great read, and the books seem to be getting better and better! If you’re looking for a diverse romance read by an #OwnVoices author, I’d definitely recommend this one!


16 Responses to “Bollywood Books 1, 2 & 3 by Sonali Dev: Bite-Sized Reviews”

  1. Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium

    ok I was getting all confused when I saw the two posts too! but again, it doesn’t take much to confuse me Glad you enjoyed this series! This would be probably my last comment as Dragonfly for a while [or ever?]. when you visit you’ll see I’m going back home. Back to be Daniela 🙂

  2. Topaz Winters

    What a wonderful, diverse series — I feel like stories about the traditions & culture of India are so often overlooked when it comes to representation (& especially #OwnVoices), so it’s incredibly refreshing to see that’s not the case here. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  3. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I skipped your review of A Distant Heart as I have that to read and since you rated that highly I’ll take that as all I need to know.

    I really enjoyed A Bollywood Affair as it was a totally different kind of romantic read for me. You’re right that it gives in a little to cliches but it was a really interesting read as Indian culture was totally new to me. The Bollywood Bride was a little over dramatic and I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first but I did find it interesting. The third book is on my TBR. I definitely need to read it along with the fourth book. Sonali Dev is a favourite author of mine.

    Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity recently posted: Sunday Summary // 06.01.2018
  4. Olivia Roach

    I have seen a lot of reviews for the first book in the series but not for the entire trilogy before! Although it sounds like these were good reads I don’t think they intrigue me too much? I really like the sound of this one having so many cultural elements running through it the whole time, to the wedding traditions and the cultural clash. The tone shift could have been wary for those who loved the first two but I am glad you liked the thriller hint to it.

  5. Jen

    I only read your review of the first book, but it sounds like a lot of fun and something I would enjoy immensely. My library has all of her books through Overdrive, so I’ll definitely be reading all of them. Hopefully I enjoy them as much as you!

    Jen recently posted: Monthly Wrap-Up – January

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