Despite the title, A Bollywood Affair, this book has little to do with Bollywood itself. The title is catchy though, so I’ll accept it. The Millionaire Director’s Secret Sister-In-Law would be a little unwieldy anyway.
Our heroine Mili is married to Virat Rathod, a boy she last seen on her wedding day at age four. Mili uses her wedded status to her own advantage. She convinces her grandmother that her husband would want an educated wife and gets herself a scholarship to an American University. Everything is coming up roses, except she lives in a gross apartment and barely has enough to eat.
Virat has a new wife and baby on the way. When he finds out Mili still claims him as her husband, he worries about his family’s future. His younger brother Samir, a Bollywood director, comes to the rescue and heads to the US to make Mili sign annulment papers. Of course when he gets there, he meets the most beautiful woman in a T-shirt he’s ever seen. Fixing his brother’s marital situation is going to take longer than he thought.
I wasn’t too sure about A Bollywood Affair at first. I liked Mili a lot. She’s so optimistic she should start every morning by singing about dreams coming true with a tiny blue bird. She thinks the best of everyone and is so sweet it hurts. Usually, I hate this, but she’s also so brave and full of determination that I liked her despite myself.
Samir was my issue. He’s a real Alpha male. I had enough of these in the 90s. He knows the effect he has on women and uses it to his advantage. I didn’t like how he talked or thought about women. (Don’t refer to a woman as “horsewoman,” FYI.) Boo, for misogyny. He could be a real dick. Speaking of… He referred to that member as “Little Sam.” Ugh. No.
Eventually Samir grew on me. For one thing, Mili is like a tiny bulldozer. Watching him being totally flummoxed by her is entertaining. As is usually the case in romance, at least one of the love interests grows as a person and becomes worthy of the other. Samir does come to realize that his actions have consequences and he can’t charm his way out of bad behaviour. Maybe he is not totally worthy of her, but he could be.
The premise of the novel is interesting and unique. I liked the cultural aspects, and the food sounds fantastic! I loved Mili to pieces and only wanted the best for her. I did think at times that the tone was off- I couldn’t decide whether it was playing silly or serious. The wedding that happens in the middle of the book is farcical and felt like it belonged to another book. That family is bonkers. There is a scene with Mili and another girl that is odd and frustrated me to no end.
There was also often awkward shifting of points-of view that were clunky. I didn’t know who was doing the speaking or thinking. My preference is for whole chapters to be from the POV of one character. A couple of paragraphs here and there always confuses me, but that might just be me.
I did have some issues with A Bollywood Affair, for sure, but overall it was charming and a bit of a tear jerker. It was a good debut and hope to read more from Sonali Dev.
PS- I love the cover.