Monday, March 10, 2014
BOOK REVIEW of Ruchi Vasudeva's "Bollywood Fiancé For A Day"
As an avid romance reader, you see a title like Ruchi Vasudeva’s “Bollywood Fiancé for A Day” and your brain goes, hmmm, how could this first-timer have given the oft-portrayed glamorous B-town a new twist? You also think, ok, maybe I should have read this before Vasudeva’s second novel “You Can’t Fight a Royal Attraction.” The writing style has obviously evolved by Book Two (kudos on that, by the way, Ruchi) but it was with a lot of curiosity that I sat down to read “Bollywood Fiancé for A Day.”
Take one simmering, snarky, bonafide heartthrob Zaheer Saxena (YUM name), mix him for a disastrous evening with an out of her-element Doctor Vishakha “Visha” Sehgal and watch sparks fly. The opening chapters could have been just out of my favorite rom-coms ‘Win a Date with Tad Hamilton’ starring the hunky Josh Duhamel in the titular role.
And well, it’s exactly what happens.
The small-town paeds doc wins a Dream Date with the Indian Die-Hard (deft touch, that) and he is unforgivably, obnoxiously late. Friction, friction abounds and the banter takes on a life of its own. Zaheer (talented bad boy with a softie heart) has an attack of conscience and wants to make amends for his boorish behavior and find his date of many shades.
Location change: Lucknow.
And here is where Vasudeva really comes into her own. Firstly just for not picking Delhi (I don’t have anything against the place, y’all). Be it describing the typical sangeet ceremony of the evil stepsister Saira, straight out of Cinderella (and the heroine of You Can’t Fight a Royal Attraction) with its OTT Punjabi charm. Or the quaint streets of Hazratganj where Visha and Zee have a first-class romantic date complete with ‘ganjing’ (lovely turn of phrase) Ruchi brings Lucknow to life.
As well as she delves into the complex psyche of her sworn-off-love TDH Zaheer and the just-jilted but determined to live life, sweet doctor.
The plot plays out like it should, from the time the sexy dude makes “an offer she can’t refuse”, to the inevitable growing up of the still-naïve Vishakha and, like all good M&B romances gives an HEA that is just right.
While the story may have benefitted from just a smidge more tightening what really stood out in “Bollywood Fiancé for a Day” is Ruchi’s dialogue, particularly the use of endearments. Chica and senorita (I can just imagine Zaheer drawling each syllable out) haven’t still found their way into Indian romances. Neither have Grand Romantic Gestures (he makes her dream come true, sigh!) just before the end.
And since I am a sucker for both, I cheered as Zee and Visha went about this business of falling in love.
Character-wise, Zaheer stands out more, probably because his conflict is a lot more internal and damaged Alpha Male does something to my insides. But I was really glad that Vasudeva did let the almost-dormant Vishakha finally take control of the situation and her man and grow a spine! Go Visha! The secondary characters too are well-rounded although I find it IMPOSSIBLE to believe that ugly stepsister Saira is the mature, poised and vulnerable young woman in Ruchi’s next. Kudos for bringing about that character growth arc, Ruchi.
“Bollywood Fiance For a Day”, as the name suggests is all about the Big Fat Indian Wedding and its aftermath. Vishakha’s doctor turn rings extremely true, since the author hangs out her medical shingle too. It is about the coming together of two flawed people and that is why it works. Although it may have been a bit passion-light, the simple innocence of the heroine makes it entirely believable.
Maybe Vasudeva will explore the physical side of romance as she continues on an excellently-begun (2 novels!) journey as a traditional M&B romance author. But, her website states that she is a writer of ‘tender, passionate romances’ and, you know what, in today’s bang for the buck world that is a much needed addition.
I recommend it, sweetly.
Aarti V Raman aka Writer Gal