Ria Parkar is a celebrated Bollywood star, frequently playing the innocent ingenue who ends up the bride. Professionally she’s intensely private, revealing very little about herself. When a paparazzi gets an incriminating photo of her looking deranged and as if she’s about to jump off a ledge (she was retrieving her phone), Ria is worried that all her deep dark secrets will be uncovered. Her cousin, who she was raised along-side, is getting married in Chicago, and she’s dreading her return there, she can’t disappoint him. Chicago is where she has the happiest memories of her childhood, but it’s also means facing Vikram, her childhood friend, who also became her first lover and the man whose heart she completely crushed when she went into the Bollywood movie business.
Of course Vikram hasn’t gotten over Ria, but generally does his best to prove to her and everyone how unconcerned he is by her presence, flaunting his new, young girlfriend as much as possible. As far as he knows, Ria callously discarded their love and sold her soul to become a star, ignoring the summers they’d spent together since she was a child and their future hopes of happiness. Ria has never been able to tell him about the reasons she was raised by her aunt and uncle and why she had to find a way to make a lot of money really fast after her father died. He has no idea of the role his ambitious mother played in driving Ria away and now keeps lashing out to her, without Ria having the energy to fight back. It’s quite clear that they both have intense feelings for one another and it’s only a matter of time before they reignite the old passion they shared.
The Bollywood Bride won the poll to select the first Cannonball Book Club book of the year. It wasn’t the one I voted for, but it was a book by an author I’d heard a lot of positive things about. Sonali Dev’s A Bollywood Affair was raved about on a number of romance review sites that I followed after its release in 2014 and I bought it when it became available for sale, but as per usual, it’s now lingering unread on my TBR shelf. Still, the stand alone follow up seemed like a good place to start. I like discovering new authors and try to branch out in my romance reading every so often. Indian culture and Bollywood are not areas I know much about. My one experience of inter-cultural romance of that kind pretty much comes from Bend It Like Beckham. I want readers of this review to know I was excited to start this book. I really did try to keep an open mind.