A mediocre, misogynistic tale with some interesting bits of culture.
Writing reviews on books I hate seems like a venture into masochism, and yet I feel compelled to write something on a book that made me react so deeply. I chose this book to read as part of a contemporary romance assignment as it was written by a local author and a culture that I hadn’t read much about in terms of romance. While I was so full of promise at the summary, the book itself left me angry more than anything.
This book concentrated around Mili, our main female character, who has left India in order to move to America and study. She dreams that her husband, a man she’s been promised to since she was four, will finally return to her and be with her, despite not seeing him since their wedding day decades ago. At the same time, Samir Rathod, the books love interest and famous Bollywood director, is coming to America in order to secure a divorce for his brother, who of course is married to Mili. There’s hijinks and adventures and tropes galore, however for me they all felt disappointing.
My main issue with this book is how unbelievably unlikeable our main characters are. Mili is the definition of damsel in distress and no human on planet Earth could be as naive as she is in her mid-twenties. Within the first meeting of Samir she manages to fracture her wrist and ankle and becomes completely dependent on Samir to do everything for her and drive her around, even though she knows NOTHING about this stranger.
Samir is one of the worst characters I have ever come across in a romance novel. In short, he’s an asshole. He only cares about himself, he belittles everyone around him constantly and he named his penis. No man who’s named his penis is worth anything. He is sexist, misogynistic and honestly, a really boring hero/love interest. There’s nothing appealing there to blow Mili off her feet and convince her he’s the guy she needs. He’s deceiving her the entire time, goes through her things without permission and, because he has a tragic back story, we are expected as readers to forgive all of this.
My least favorite part of this book is when Samir takes Mili’s virginity. Outside. Against a tree. In his mother’s yard. The mother he just met for the first time. Who is dying of cancer.
There’s also a very odd correlation of food = sex in this book. Which hey, we’ve all experimented, food is absolutely something that stimulates as much as sex can sometimes, but this is every. Scene. With. Food. She basically orgasms eating leftovers and that’s never happened to me. Unless I was really hungover.
All in all, I hated this book. I will likely never read anything by this author, which is disappointing because she’s local and I love supporting local authors. This book is far and away not for me and I honestly would dissuade anyone I saw picking it up from reading it.
Title: A Bollywood Affair
Author: Sonali Dev
Three Descriptors: Spirited, Upbeat, Diverse