A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev
Released: December 26, 2017
Reviewed by Mandi
I have a love affair with Sonali Dev’s books. She writes such good words. Words that usually completely break my heart (it’s still broken after reading A Change of Heart) but she repairs it and gives us a shiny HEA at the end with all the smiles. The heroine in this book, Kimi, literally has a broken heart. A lifelong heart condition that keeps her sick most of her youth in Mumbai, India (where the whole book takes place) leaves Kimi very sheltered. Her father, a former bollywood actor turned minister, is very wealthy. Kimi was a miracle child after her parents endured many miscarriages. She was sheltered even before they realized how sick she was. Then her entire life became keeping her alive and away from germs until a donor heart could be found. Her mother is often gone to worship, and her father keeps an eye on her every move.
The present day of this book takes place two years after she has had her heart transplant. Kimi is ready to experience life – but not everyone is on board with this. Our hero, Rahul, loves Kimi. He has loved her for a long time. His father, a policeman in Mumbai, took a bullet for Kimi’s father when Rahul was young. He died in Rahul’s arms. After this, Kimi’s father felt greatly indebted to Rahul and his family, who have nowhere near the amount of money Kimi’s family has. Rahul though is a proud guy. He was a proud kid and he is a proud adult. He didn’t want that money, and the book goes back and forth, from present day to past, and really explores Rahul and Kimi’s upbringing. In the past, Rahul and Kimi eventually meet, and eventually become best of friends, turned lovers. She becomes very dependent on him, when she is down for the count with her heart problems.
In present day, a few things are happening. In the romance department, Rahul is scared that Kimi can live life now. She has left her bubble. Always one to sneak out and rebel a bit against her strict father, Rahul wants to wrap her up and keep her safe. He puts distance between them, which really hurts Kimi, who wants to love him and experience life with him.
In the suspense department we have a very bad man named Asif. If you have read other books in this series, he is the man who was running the illegal harvesting of organs on the black market, and he killed a previous character named Jennifer Joshi. (you don’t have to have read the previous books to follow this one.) Asif mildly attacks Kimi one night and mentions her transplant. Hmmmm…. a bad man who runs a black market organ ring, and a woman who somehow got a heart transplant. He pops up throughout the book, causing a lot of trouble and violence, as Rahul has been desperately hunting him after he murdered Jennifer.
Although I have no personal knowledge of transplants and heart problems, I found it all very detailed, well written and engrossing. The reader really lives Kimi’s health problems and limitations. The author writes her characters so full of life and rich. We really get to know both Kimi and Rahul, and their families and life in Mumbai. It’s so well done. I do wish we had spent less time in the past and more time in the present. But the feel of the city – the difference between living wealthy and living poor – is all very detailed and there for the reader.
Their love is a tortured one, which starts out tortured because of Kimi’s illness and lack of being able to physically be present. Later, it turns torturous because of Rahul’s angst over her need for adventure. Rahul is such an interesting hero. Very stoic, proud, forced to grow up fast after his father is murdered. Experiences such heartache as a kid. He could have exploited Kimi’s father for so much money, but instead uses some of it wisely and becomes a police officer himself. I wish he would have been a little more passionate towards Kimi at the end – to get that HEA, but at the same time his personality doesn’t necessarily lead to passion, and that way okay for me.
Although Rahul pushes Kimi away in present day, she did that plenty to him in the past. Maybe a little selfishly, as she knew he would always come back. But we all can’t be perfect, huh?
I find Sonali Dev’s books just so intriguing and different. She really knows how to pull on your heartstrings. The suspense ending in this one – I could see it coming but damn. It’s a little harsh. A happy HEA for Kimi and Rahul but I fear heartache in their lives for external reasons will linger.
I highly recommend all of her books. In my opinion, her first two books, A Bollywood Affair and The Bollywood Bride are more light-hearted than her last two. A Change of Heart, remains my favorite. It is gut wrenching.