Today I’m participating in the tour for A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev. I’ve been meaning to read her books for years, partly because she’s a local author and partly because I heard her speak on a diversity panel at RT a few years back, and she caught my attention there (I can’t remember anyone else on the panel, but I distinctly remember her). I picked up a copy of her latest at ALA and thought this would be a great way to jump into her books!
I’m starting with my review of A Distant Heart, since that’s the book for the tour, but check the blog tomorrow for reviews of the other three books in the series!
A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev
Series: Bollywood #4
Published by Kensington on December 26th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance
My content rating: 18+ (Explicit sex)
Her name means “miracle” in Sanskrit, and to her parents, that’s exactly what Kimaya is. The first baby to survive after several miscarriages, Kimi grows up in a mansion at the top of Mumbai’s Pali Hill, surrounded by love and privilege. But at eleven years old, she develops a rare illness that requires her to be confined to a germ-free ivory tower in her home, with only the Arabian Sea churning outside her window for company. . . . Until one person dares venture into her world.
Tasked at fourteen-years-old with supporting his family, Rahul Savant shows up to wash Kimi’s windows, and an unlikely friendship develops across the plastic curtain of her isolation room. As years pass, Rahul becomes Kimi’s eyes to the outside world—and she becomes his inspiration to better himself by enrolling in the police force. But when a life-saving heart transplant offers the chance of a real future, both must face all that ties them together and keeps them apart.
As Kimi anticipates a new life, Rahul struggles with loving someone he may yet lose. And when his investigation into a black market organ ring run by a sociopathic gang lord exposes dangerous secrets that cut too close to home, only Rahul's deep, abiding connection with Kimi can keep her safe—and reveal the true meaning of courage, loss, and second chances.
Infused with the rhythms of life in modern-day India, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s candid, rewarding novel beautifully evokes all the complexities of the human heart.
***NOTE: This book is the fourth in the series, but I’ve tried to keep the review spoiler-free for all of the other books. The book can easily be read as a standalone, but personally, I recommend reading A Change of Heart first since they’re closely related.***
This book is easily my favorite in the Bollywood series so far. It definitely has a different feel than the other books in the series since it flashes back to Kimi and Rahul’s childhoods and it takes place in India, but I think it’s all the better for those things!
What Fed My Addiction:
- A lifetime romance. I am a sucker for a story of childhood friends who become more, and I absolutely loved seeing the friendship between Kimi and Rahul develop. Their history makes every moment between them (in the present) crackle with chemistry, even when they’re trying to deny it.
- The setting. I’ll confess that I don’t know much about India, but Dev did such a fantastic job of setting the atmosphere that I felt like I truly got to know Mumbai.
- Class structures. Kimi and Rahul come from different worlds, even though they live in the same city. And a major theme of the book was the exploration of how the difference in class affected them, both separately and as a couple. Rahul came from nothing, and he felt indebted to Kimi’s father—a feeling he did not particularly savor. At first, he felt a lot of bitterness because of that. But Kimi changed all that for him. She humanized the wealthy and powerful in a way that her father never could. I thought it was interesting that though class differences were a definite focus of the book, it wasn’t really what kept Kimi and Rahul apart (which is what you would stereotypically expect). Their story was much more complicated than that.
- High stakes. From the beginning, Kimi and Rahul are trying to solve a mystery that we already know the answer to. This could have made for a boring book, but it didn’t. Part of that is because the focus of the book is really on the relationship between Kimi and Rahul (including how it developed throughout their childhood). But also, because we know that the person hunting Kimi is serious—and seriously dangerous—the stakes are very high and the story is intense at certain points.
What Left Me Hungry for More:
- Not much. I was a bit worried at first that the obstacle to the romance in this book was going to be a little too close to the obstacle in book two (basically, one half of the couple believes that they’re somehow cursed and are bad for the other person). But, in the end, this story felt more nuanced and I truly understood Rahul and his trepidation about getting close to anyone—especially Kimi.
This is a fantastic installment in the Bollywood Series! (Though, just as a warning, it has almost nothing to do with Bollywood). These complex characters are sure to win your heart (and break it a little along the way). I give this book an easy 4.5/5 Stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via ALA Annual in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Check out the Book Trailer!
About the Author
Sonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and writing, migrating across the globe, and starting a family while writing for magazines and websites. With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force, and she now combines it with her insights into Indian culture to conjure up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler.
Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog.
Sonali’s novels have been on Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post, and Kirkus’s lists of Best Books of the year. She won the American Library Association’s award for best romance 2014, and is a RITA® finalist, RT Reviewer Choice Award Nominee, and winner of the RT Seal of Excellence. She was hailed by NPR.org as a ‘stunning debut’.
Enter the giveaway for a prize pack from Sonali that includes a $50 Amazon gift card and print copies of A Bollywood Affair and A Change of Heart!