Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: I love you. That’s what he was thinking. He wanted to mouth it to her. He wanted to whisper it into her lips, into every secret place in her body. He wanted to scream it out in front of the entire world.
When this book arrived unsolicited in the mail, I immediately turned it over and read the back blurb, because a Bollywood book intrigued me. The blurb interested me, so I threw it on my to-be-read pile and made a note to review it later. But then twitter started popping up little tweets about how amazing this book was. So I got excited, and antsy and finally grabbed it and read the entire book in one day. It made me smile and laugh, I got choked up more than once and it gave me all the feels that romance has to offer.
I feel like this book is different than other romance books in so many ways. First, the Indian culture. I’m not familiar with this necessarily, but the author makes that okay. She plops you down right into the thick of it, but then she slowly introduces us to this amazing, loyal, family oriented group. Mili lives with her grandmother and was married to a boy named Virat at the age of four. Now twenty years later, she has never seen her husband since her wedding day, but has been waiting and preparing for him her entire life. She wants to be the perfect wife for him, schooled in subjects that would make him proud. Her husband is in the air force, and she hasn’t seen him since she was four years old, yet she still believes he will one day come to her, as her husband and they will have a life together.
She had prayed for her husband’s success and safety every day of her life. She had fasted at every Teej festival so he would have everything he ever wanted. She had dreamed of him and yearned for him and although she tried really hard not to care about having those feelings reciprocated, she believed in love with all her heart.
Mili does everything with “all her heart” and it really endeared her to me. She is smart, but also a bit sheltered and naïve.
Mili often wondered if other people felt the same way about hings as she did. She was perfectly aware of the fact that there was nothing normal about her life. Even in her village, she was the youngest girl to have been married. And she had to be the only girl on earth who had no idea what her husband looked like after twenty years of marriage. She had never left her village until she was twenty years old, except for a school trip to New Delhi when she won an essay contest at fifteen. And until she was twenty-four she had never even left her home state of Rajasthan.
When she gets the opportunity to study abroad in Michigan for eight months, she accepts. Terrified, poor, yet passionate and determined, Mili goes to Michigan and starts school. She has a crazy roommate and together they make it work. But everything changes when Samir shows up.
Samir is Virat’s brother, but Mili doesn’t know this. After the wedding, Samir and Virat’s mother took them away from their extremely abusive father. Virat joined the air force and fell in love with someone. He assumes Mili won’t care about their marriage twenty years ago. Now he needs to make sure Mili and him are properly divorced, but after getting hurt on the job, he can’t travel. Being an extremely loyal brother, Samir travels to Michigan to facilitate the divorce. Samir is a hot-shot Bollywood director and screenwriter. He is a god among women and gets what he wants. So when he meets Mili, he gets a shock. First, she is terrified out of her mind of him, tries to run and ends up hurting her ankle and wrist badly. Realizing she has no one to help her (her roommate left) he lies and says he is her new neighbor and ends up caring for her. Something foreign comes over Samir – the feeling of loving a woman. He cares for Mili. He tries to figure out this woman who is so petite, can cry happy, sad, or really any tears at any time, is clumsy, is outspoken and brave yet scared. She is unlike any woman he has met. And he falls in love while lying about his true intentions of being in Michigan.
Mili on the other hand, is so loyal to her husband, this stranger she has never really met, that when she has feelings for Samir, she feels like she is betraying Virat. Oh the angst.
The best thing about this book is how rich everything is. The details of the Indian culture. The chemistry between Samir and Mili. Samir’s charm and sly ways verse his genuine big heart and good guy hidden underneath the player. Mili’s passion about life, and her big ideas about romance. It all weaves into this brilliant story about two people falling in love.
Mili and Samir’s romance is a slow one to build. Samir is intent on not falling in love with Mili, just as Mili is intent with only loving Virat. But as Samir cares for Mili while she recovers from her ankle injury, they become friends. They make each other laugh, Samir cooks for her, and their chemistry unfolds into something so sweet.
It’s hard to explain how this book truly felt. I remember when I finished, I stood up and kind of did a little hop while holding the book to my chest because I was so happy and my son looked at me like I was a crazy person. I just nodded and hopped again. Such a fulfilling book, with a hero and heroine who will stick with me for a very long time. Well done Sonali Dev. I can’t wait for something else from you.
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