Her name means “miracle” in Sanskrit, and to her parents, that’s exactly what Kimaya is. The first baby to survive after several miscarriages, Kimi grows up in a mansion at the top of Mumbai’s Pali Hill, surrounded by love and privilege. But at eleven years old, she develops a rare illness that requires her to be confined to a germ-free ivory tower in her home, with only the Arabian Sea churning outside her window for company. . . . Until one person dares venture into her world.
Tasked at fourteen years old with supporting his family, Rahul Savant shows up to wash Kimi’s windows, and an unlikely friendship develops across the plastic curtain of her isolation room. As years pass, Rahul becomes Kimi’s eyes to the outside world—and she becomes his inspiration to better himself by enrolling in the police force. But when a life-saving heart transplant offers the chance of a real future, both must face all that ties them together and keeps them apart.
As Kimi anticipates a new life, Rahul struggles with loving someone he may yet lose. And when his investigation into a black market organ ring run by a sociopathic gang lord exposes dangerous secrets that cut too close to home, only Rahul's deep, abiding connection with Kimi can keep her safe—and reveal the true meaning of courage, loss, and second chances.
Sonali Dev’s first literary work was a play about mistaken identities performed at her neighborhood Diwali extravaganza in Mumbai. She was eight years old. Despite this early success, Sonali spent the next few decades getting degrees in architecture and written communication, migrating across the globe, and starting a family while writing for magazines and websites. With the advent of her first gray hair her mad love for telling stories returned full force, and she now combines it with her insights into Indian culture to conjure up stories that make a mad tangle with her life as supermom, domestic goddess, and world traveler.
Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog.
I sat next to Sonali at an RWA book signing in Orlando this year, and managed to talk her out of an advance copy of A DISTANT HEART. I fell in love with this series after reading A Bollywood Affair, and couldn't wait to get my hands on this one.
The thing is, every once in a great while a reader might be lucky enough to find an author with a voice so powerful, an ability to tell a beautiful story so compelling, that they become an absolute “auto buy.” For me, Sonali Dev is that author—her writing is so lush, so full of beautiful phrasing and heartfelt characters that I find myself pausing to reread paragraphs and scenes for the pure poetry of her words.
The setting for A DISTANT HEART is almost entirely in Mumbai, India. I’ll admit to spending more time than I should have searching Google images to see if the graphic visuals Ms. Dev creates with words are close to the reality I could see in pictures. She nails it. Once I had that confirmed, I settled in to read a most amazing story of the relationship between a young woman with a serious illness who was born to great wealth, and a young man from the slums with a tragic connection to the girl’s father.
They are two who are terribly dissimilar—the overly protected girl, trapped and secluded by both her illness and her well-meaning parents, a boy who is forced at too early an age to become a man—and yet the friendship they build over the years that is so much deeper than mere friends is a powerful force that will change their lives and those of their families on every level.
This is a story to savor, one you’ll probably finish, set aside, and pick it up immediately when you realize you can’t walk away from Dev’s world that easily. A DISTANT HEART has everything that makes a book unforgettable. Five stars aren’t nearly enough.
A Distant Heart is not my favorite from Sonali Dev but it remains very likable and engaging, especially if you like romantic suspense with plenty of emotion. This book provides alternating timeframes along with characters you may recognize from Dev's other novels. The delicate subject of coming of age with a life-threatening chronic illness created palpable emotion while providing a segue to the crime/suspense element. Overall I liked it and would recommend it if you enjoy the genres listed.
My favorite quote: "There's this desperation that takes over when you taste joy after waiting a lifetime for it and it's a very powerful thing."
A Distant Heart takes up the story that was started in a Change of Heart. Now the focus is on Rahul the police officer chasing down a criminal ring who steal hearts on the black market.
Rahul has suffered much loss in his life, he comes from a poor family and has always fought his way courageously through life. Growing up he made friends with Kimi, a young girl who has severe immune problems She's locked up in her safe "tower". Eventually it will lead to heart failure and the need for a new heart.
The book moves between their younger lives together and their lives now. I found that a little disconcerting, yet it filled in the background of both of them. Kimi is much loved, her parents take great care of her in their way, but is their way best? Her father - Kirit, has told Rahul that Kimi can never be his, and even though Kirit knows Kimi sparkles around Rahul he will not give his blessing.
However Kirit is being blackmailed and the person who was shot in the last book and severely wounded is now more or less up and about and out to do damage to Kimi and Rahul.
Kimi has many challenges to face down, many truths to come to grips with, and the way she does tells how strong she is and how wise. Rahul because of all the losses he has experienced has learned to act often out of fear, to dampen down his feelings and live within a self imposed wall. Can he become a whole human being and learn to live with a heart that accepts that fear is not the way for living.
I enjoyed reading the book, seeing the case solved, justice meted out and Kimi and Rahul finding their happy for now.
The story is set in India, Mumbai and follows two people, Kimi and Rahul, as they form an unlike friendship. They come from two completely different worlds; Kimi is rich, whereas Rahul is extremely poor. However they somehow make it work and they form a very strong bond between them.
When the story begins, Kimi and Rahul are not in, let’s say, speaking terms. For some reason their bond and trust has been broken. Through flashbacks, the reader learns how this friendship started and how they came to be this inseparable duo. And for me these were the best parts of the whole book; we got so much insight on each character, so much backstory and it made the plot come together and the characters to feel fleshed out and real.
Kimi as a character is very interesting. Despite all the money she has, she has had to face many difficulties which made her tough. But next to her toughness there is also an immense amount of positivity and optimism. Her optimist is a little annoying at times -maybe that’s just a me issue cause I’m not the most optimistic person on the planet and cheerfulness gets on my nerves heh– and I really, really, really disliked her constant use of “thank you very much”. GOD THAT WAS SO ANNOYING!
Anyway, moving on to Rahul. Ah, Rahul *swoons*. He is THE tortured, broody, poor, thinks he’s not good enough, male lead. His backstory was a lil bit too tragic but it’s fiction so I don’t really care. I really liked we got to see a character that is actually poor. If you follow me on twitter you may have seen me complaining about this issue before and it was so refreshing finally seeing it in a story. His family lives in a chawl (click on the word to get to the wikipedia page if you don’t know what it is) and they barely make ends meet. They struggle with money and they don’t buy new clothes and toys every other day.
Now the romance aspect. In case you didn’t get it from all the above this is a best friends to lovers book. But BEWARE! If you cannot handle slowburn and you are tempted to burn the book in the pyre to save yourself from the torture like me ahem, do not pick this up. Otherwise it was good. Even though this is a romance novel, the focus isn’t so heavy on the romance. There is another subplot running which was more on the mystery/ crime genre.
One thing I liked very very much is the use of Marathi words. Whenever I read a book and the plot is set outside the US, I like getting those little words ’cause they make me feel more connected to the setting and the plot. So that’s a plus!
Final thoughts: A Distant Heart is a romance novel with beautiful writing, set in India featuring Indian characters which will for sure captivate your heart! Definitely recommend!
I received this e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Loved it! Still wiping tears from my eyes as I type this. Happy tears, though. How I adore Sonali Dev. Love her. Love her books. 😍
I took my time reading A Distant Heart even though I had a deadline to rate and review it within two weeks of its release. I wanted to not only delve deep into the story and characters, but also study the writing style and learn from it. I've decided that the majority of my books will be set away from the US and this is a perfect model for me to emulate. Sonali transported me to Mumbai from the first word. I lived in the chawl with Rahul's Aie and Mohit, ground spices with the kakus. I lived in The Mansion with Kimi and Kirit-sir and watched beside Rahul outside the glass door. Sonali did this without having to translate every Marathi word into English. She deftly weaved the Indian culture into the story without the need for a glossary and lengthy explanations.
The dual timelines could have been confusing, but because a consistent system was established early on (alternating POV, alternating past/present), following the story through the jumps was easy.
What I love the most is that I really got to know the characters through their conversations, actions, and reactions to events. Rahul is stoic, proud, responsible, and protective of Kimi. He's also scared of his feelings for her to the point that he tries to push her away. Kimi is full of hope and positivity. Because of her illness, she tries to live each day to the fullest as if it's her last. This attitude strongly appeals to me and my motto of Carpe Diem.
The secondary characters are fully fleshed out, too. From Kirit Patil, Aie, Mohit, Mona, the doctors, Nikita (Jess?), Nikhil, Jen, and Joy, the servants, the police officers, and even the villainous Asif. Even the absent Rupa was a distinct and memorable character, someone who sticks to a reader's mind even though she was not physically present for most of the book.
A Distant Heart is an incredibly well-written book that is full of emotion and action. It has a lot of depth as well as flashes of humor. It will make you feel and think. You will have to ponder the answer to the question: How far will you go to save a loved one's life?
A book that is almost impossible to drop into a neat category. It's part suspense, part gritty crime tale, wholeheartedly romantic, and a most unusual Rapunzel tale. I loved that it was set in Mumbai, and yet was completely accessible. Loved Sonali's voice, which is highly original and lyrical. Loved the romance between two hungry souls. Sexy, gritty, romantic, compelling. Excellent.
4th book of the Bollywood series. Definitely read book 3 prior to this book. Dark and heavy topic romance with a Indian influence. Flips to history and current times, back and forth throughout the book.
Too dark and “real” for me. Complex characters and situations dealing with black market organ involuntary donations.
Holy cow I loved this book! The emotional messiness of it was so compelling. The hero beholden the heroine's father, scarred by loss/grief he's experienced in his young life, and fear that one wrong choice could upend his best friend's precarious health. The heroine, a princess trapped in a tower thanks to a compromised immune system, hungry for adventure, a life, who falls in love with her childhood friend who keeps pushing her away at every turn as they reach adulthood....out of fear. And even the heroine's parents, the toll their daughter's illness has on them, and the choices they make because of it.
I also liked the suspense side of the story. Yes, a little fantastical at times, but compelling all the same and the denouement was literally gasp-inducing. It's been a while since I've wanted a happy ending this badly for a romantic couple. A seriously great read.
A Distant Heart is a friends to lovers story set in India that I quite enjoyed. I loved the way in which the author told it. Showing the hero and heroine's first meeting as children and how their relationship evolved over time. Nothing between moves quickly, it's a slow build up that is very much reflected in the way things are revealed and the culmination of their first sex scene.
3.8 stars ! This is a push and pull romance. It was great for about 70% of the book, literally kept me on the toes but it got kinda draggy draggy midway through . I wish Rahul could have had that same spark that he had for Kimi till the end cause it kinda got diluted with his moodiness and tad bit of insecurity.That's the only thing that lacked, though Kimi deserves a full hundred for being such a positive ball of light throughout the book.Overall a descent read.
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.
This book has been on my page as 'currently reading' for an eternity. When a very lovely new 'follower' marked it as 'to read', I realised I was at risk of influencing people to read something so awful that I just can't finish it myself. So I need to get it off my page.
The book is terrible. Soppy, predictable, cliched to the max. I was tempted to keep going just to rip it to shreds but life is WAY too short. If you can find some of the 'highlights' (term used very loosely) I marked up, you'll see exactly what I mean.
I hate it when books with an Indian backdrop promise an "authentic Indian rep" and it ends up being a bad imitation of cheesy bollywood song-and-dance romance.
But I loved A Distant Heart for being so unabashedly Bollywoodsy in terms of setting up the world of its two main characters.
Rich Girl meets Poor Boy - CHECK Poor Boy follows his father's footsteps by joining the city police force - CHECK Rich Girl's father is a politician - CHECK The infamous Mumbai mafia are the menacing villians in the story - CHECK The Poor Boy is the sole bread-winner of his family who live in the Mumbai chawls - CHECK
and so on.
Yet, what makes this book rise above the cliches and the simple two-line plot are the two main characters. When Rahul stays away from Kimi, you understand. You understand Kimi’s stubbornness. Her sporadic desperation to cling onto Rahul not because she started considering him as her lover, but because he was just about the only friend she could make during her forced exile from the outside world. And if you know something about how the classic Indian stories have characters reacting to and believing in luck and superstition, you sort of get where Rahul is coming from too.
I quite liked some of the secondary characters too, especially Kimi's parents. If there is a spin-off to this book that is a love story of Kimi's parents (who were former bollywood stars), I would definitely read it.
The book has some really good quotable passages, my favorite ones being about making peace with circumstances and losing control of circumstances and your body when you have an illness. If there is something that could have been better, it is probably some of the dialogues. It felt clunky at times.. and well.. read too much like.. quotes? I mean, there were times it didn't feel casual or authentic in a way you would expect people to actually converse. I also would have liked if the author had gone the whole hog with the mystery plot (instead of making it really predictable)
This plot is something that was introduced in the previous book. But, there is enough background information given, so the book worked perfectly fine as a standalone for me (since I havent read the previous book). However, I feel that I would have related to a couple of characters more if I had read the previous book (when they were first introduced)
I would recommend this book for its bittersweet romance lilting in from the mansions and chawls dotting the Mumbai landscape. Do check it out when it hits the stores this December!
(I was lucky to get an ARC of this book from Shenwei@readingasiam/wordpress. Thank you!)
What a really good book does is: - Keeps you flipping pages (all night long) until it's done - makes you stare at the book in your hands even after you've finished reading it - urges you to hand it over to another avid reader so you can gush about it together - inspires that next great scene out of you (as a writer) - triggers various gushy social media posts
ADH does all of that and more. Having read a Change of Heart, I was already acquainted with DCP Rahul and Kimi. I knew what was coming. I knew their story, and yet I hadn't known them at all. This book is about passions of love..."the best of it and the worst of it." It's about friendship, and guilt, and life and fate. It's about a girl whose health mocks her zest for life. And a man whose life has been sucked dry of zest. Rahul and Kimi can only be whole together. We know they'll make...they have to...but their journey to that end is what grand love stories are all about.
Kimi and Rahul struggle with so many challenges that both unite them and separate them. Class distinctions in their native Mumbai, terrible medical disease and uncertainty, and loss. Yet there is the presence of hope and of dreams, of friendship and of love. This book brings me to tears over and over. Tears of both sorrow and of joy. There are a lot of raw emotions here that really illuminate the underlying messages of hope and connection. Dev’s A DISTANT HEART will be a book that lingers in my heart for years to come, whispering words of love and complex emotion.
This is the fifth Sonali Dev novel that I have read and being a huge fan of her incredible writing that has always left me emotional and content, I was a little disappointed with this book. The whole story is set in Mumbai, India, against a criminal underworld backdrop where in present day, our protagonists are grappling with the consequences of a mysterious and jagged past. We see the story alternate between past and present, through the perspectives of our MC’s, Rahul and Kimi, and although the transitions are smooth, it did slow down the overall pace of the story. At times I felt that the sentiments they were grappling with in the moment were the same as in their past and there wasn’t any advancement in their relationship. At the crux of the crime story we have the organ trafficking ring and so much of the plot depended on the villain and attempting to predict his next move, rather than weaving the crime case as part of Rahul and Kimi’s story. Whilst many aspects of this story reminded me of a Bollywood movie, I was truly hoping for more of the angst, tension, romance, magic and comfort I have always found in Dev’s books.
I always love a good childhood friends to lovers plot! This one was structured a bit different than the other 3 books in this series but I still loved it! I also really liked how there were multiple POVs between Rahul, Kimmi, and Kirit.
Kimmi and Rahul come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and despite their differences and their insecurities, they choose each other. Kimmi also has a physical illness that Rahul and Kimmi have to work through. They both have to deal with the inevitability of loss and cherish the time that they have together.
Sonali Dev’s 4 book series is definitely AMAZING hands down!! What I loved the most was that each leading lady in each of the 4 books is so different (the men have some personality overlap)! Some were more bold and daring while others were more shy and traditional. Each story was absolutely beautiful! But A Bollywood Affair was my favorite book of the series! Milli and Samir hold my heart! ❤️
I liked this, but I wish it had been a little more linear. I get why it wasn't, but it was definitely a book where I got into a part and then we were somewhere else. It was also a little frustrating that it took the entire book to get to the reveal regarding Kimi's heart. Again, get why! But it was sort of obvious from the beginning what was going on.
**Read for Ripped Bodice Summer Bingo, Fairy Tale Retelling**
One of the great things about this book is that it doesn’t fit into a perfect genre category. A coming-of-age tale flavored with suspense, as well a satisfying romantic tale, I found myself turning the pages rapidly, and I even had to swallow a lump of emotion a time or two. The author’s voice is compelling and unique, and at times, Dev sprinkled in a bit of wry humor. But what I enjoyed most of all was the visual imagery, and the little gems about Indian culture I didn’t know before, especially within the context of a gripping, well-paced and thoroughly romantic read. Highly recommended.
It’s all Kimi’s fault. Not just the events in A Distant Heart, but also everything that happened in A Change of Heart. Both the good and the bad. But especially the bad.
The problem is that Kimi doesn’t know it’s her fault, or that the people she trusted the most saved her life with a giant lie. All that she knows is that two years ago, a donor heart was mysteriously found, and she was able to finally emerge from the sterile bubble in which she had been forced to live her young life.
Kimi doesn’t know where her heart came from. Her rich and influential father has insisted on respecting the privacy of the donor and the donor’s family.
But there’s a black-market organ dealer who is determined to expose the truth that surrounds Kimi’s heart – right before he takes it out of her chest. Or at least ensures that it will never beat again – not for Kimi, not for anyone.
And there’s a police detective determined to bring that same criminal to justice before that happens. Detective Rahul Savant has put all the resources he has at his disposal to bring Asif Khan to justice, no matter what it costs. Not just in revenge for the death of his friend Jen, and for the deaths of all the lost souls whose body parts have been “harvested” by Khan’s organization, but really because Kimi is the love of his life. Even if he can’t admit that to himself. And even if he isn’t allowed to admit it to anyone else. Especially Kimi.
Escape Rating B+: A Distant Heart is the direct follow-up to A Change of Heart. While the friends-into-lovers romance between Kimi and Rahul is played out in this story only, the events that set everything in motion began in A Change of Heart. Because A Distant Heart is the shattering conclusion to a story begun in the earlier book, it is necessary to read both to get the full impact.
And what an impact it is.
Kimi’s life has been a miracle and a tragedy all in one. Her story has elements of the “poor little rich girl” trope, but the “poverty” in Kimi’s story is deeper. Yes, she’s a lonely, rich girl, but she’s lonely not because of distant or neglectful parents (at least not both of them), but because she has an autoimmune disease and must live in a sterile bubble. If her parents weren’t wealthy, the disease would have killed her long ago.
Rahul, on the other hand, began with a happy childhood that was invaded by tragedy of a different kind. His father, also a police officer, was killed in the line of duty, taking a bullet for Kimi’s father. The lesson Rahul learned early, and that was repeated with the sudden death of his little sister, was that people he loved would be taken away without warning.
But the tragedy of his father’s death linked the two families. Kimi’s father felt duty-bound to provide for the family, and 14-year-old Rahul felt equally duty bound not to accept charity from the man who had gotten his father killed. The result was a long-standing arrangement for Rahul to work off the money that was contributed for his and his brother’s education at the estate where Kimi lived in her bubble.
These two children of tragedy connected in a lifelong bond. A bond that neither her illness nor her eventual recovery, or even Rahul’s obsession with the black market organ harvesting ring that led to his friend’s death, could truly break.
And neither could her father’s attempts to place restrictions and limitations on their friendship.
This is a story with multiple facets. The relationship between Rahul and Kimi careens between friendship, love, resentment and fear on an endless roller coaster ride. Rahul is afraid to love anyone, out of fear they will be taken from him. That’s a fear that is more than realistic in Kimi’s case as her life has always been on borrowed time. Kimi loves Rahul, but can also be somewhat of a spoiled brat about getting her own way. She’s never bad about it, but she is used to being indulged in a whole lot of ways because her illness made her precious to everyone around her.
There is also a central mystery to the story. The organ harvester is after Kimi for reasons that are obscure at first, but become clear over the course of the story. His pursuit is deadly, and forces Rahul and Kimi to stay together for safety, giving them the chance they need to work through how they really feel about each other as adults.
But that pursuit is an obsession, and it’s an obsession that gets the man killed. Not that he doesn’t deserve to die as the story goes, but more that it defies common sense. He could have, and should have, left Kimi alone and escaped to set up somewhere else. Not as interesting a story, but more logical. My two cents.
A Distant Heart is a love story where there is so much bitter mixed with the sweet, right until the very end, that you’ll need tissues to cope with the pangs of your own heart. If you are in the mood for sweetness mixed with angst (and a touch of crazy), this one will keep you tied to your chair until the final page.
Yes, three stars for a Sonali Dev book. I can’t believe I’m writing this and meaning it. Before I go any further, I want to say two things. First: This isn’t a bad book, and Ms. Dev is an amazing author. Second: this review is my personal opinion, which, since I’m only human, is influenced by expectations. So, if you go into this book with other expectations than mine, this review may not reflect on your opinion on this book.
** Received and ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve read, loved and awarded all three Ms. Dev’s previous books five stars. Those books caught my attention right from the start, filled my heart with the entire range of every conceivable human emotion, and had me crying at multiple stages, both ugly and happy tears. Those books blew my mind. So, that was a tough act to follow, even for the best of authors. But, since Ms. Dev had managed to match my expectations two times before, I trusted in the same, magical outcome.
Sadly, to me, this book wasn’t as magical as those previous books. Why? 1) This story has a relatively strong focus on an external obstacle, a bad guy, unlike the other books that were more focused on internal journeys of the protagonists. I don’t particularly like external focused romances (I’m not a fan of romantic suspense either). This bad-guy focus took up half the scenes (the ones set in the present time) in the first 30% of the book. 2) Throughout the entire book the story switches back and forth between scenes from the past and scenes from the present. The scenes from the past were sweet and emotional. But these scenes were continuously interrupted with scenes from the present. To me this choice annoyed me, and kept me from getting immersed fully. (the fact that the present scenes were also heavily influenced by the external conflict didn’t help me either) 3) This story doesn’t seem to fit into the purist sense of the romance category, and felt more like fiction with romantic elements with a happy-ever-after at the end. I love the purist romances, and at best I might like some of the fiction-type stories. Why is this story not a romance to me? Because it’s not just about the two main characters getting together, but also, for a large part, about a third character and about how that third character finds a way out of the lies he’s told and grows as a person. It’s beautifully told, but to me, it blurred the lines of what this book (as a romance) could have been about.
To me, the story would have been better, and the ending more fulfilling as a romance, if the plot had been changed on two basis points. I would have liked to see: - the external element, the bad guy, dealt with before the start of the story, off-screen. The main characters had more than enough demons to deal with and to me the story didn't need that added external element. - the event at the end of the book (you’ll know when you get there) to have had an entirely different outcome, but only if it also happened off-screen. This would have added an extra layer onto the already existing inner demons. I have no doubt Ms. Dev would have found an amazing way for the protagonists to overcome those obstacles and have their happy ever after.
Anyway, I continue to be amazed at Ms. Dev as an author, and will (no doubt whatsoever) read her next book. Hope you’ll enjoy.
This is my first Sonali Dev book and surely not my last wow!!! What a fantastic ride this was. I didnt read the book before this one and was still able to follow the events with ease. The story told by switching between present day events and Kimi and Rahul's past and it was done so effectively. We really get so much depth of these characters by seeing their relationship from how it began to what it is at present. I loved Kimi and Rahul so much. Well fleshed out, complex characters. I was on edge reading the entire time and a ball of emotions. I'll definitely be checking out the author's other books, so good
I was lucky enough to snag an ARC of A Distant Heart at RWA this past July and jumped at the c hance to read it ASAP.
Sonali's writing is lyrical and evokes all the emotions and feelz. You are immediately transferred to Mumbai and her descriptions are so vivid, it makes you feel like you are right there, seeing what the characters see, feel, taste, smell, and experience. But also, Sonali dives into the tangled web of complicated family dynamics and relationships, and tackles heavy topics like regret, selfishness vs. selflessness, consequences of choices, and how far is too far to go for a loved one.
But through it all, there is a beautiful love story between Kimi and Rahul. It is complicated, twisted, and beautiful and at times hard, just like life. It was also lovely to see cameos from characters from previous books.
This story is set in Mumbai and it's a continuation of the previous book (A change of heart). We were introduced to Kimi and Rahul in the previous book. The previous book was a bit dark. Especially from the authors other works. This one is much lighter. The description of Mumbai, the environment and it's people is spot on. The parallel timelines worked really well for me. We got to see how Kimi and Rahul's relationship progressed and that was very sweet. Some parts seemed rushed. But it didn't affect my overall enjoyment of this story. I loved it!
A story that is told in two voices, both of which tell their side of the story in a mix of flashbacks to past and distant past events, using these voices and the concept of ‘love’ to explain, justify, share and provide pivot points on which the story moves forward, sideways and occasionally halting as the layers are uncovered. The cornerstone on which the story pivots is Kimi and her friend (only friend) Rahul – both from very different levels in society and both caught in the trap of love, loss and unspoken dreams.
Set in India, one has to understand that even in this day, the class system is fairly rigid - not only a function of birth and professions handed down over generations, but limited further by employment (or lack of), housing, and general financial stability. Rahul is from a family who lives a hardscrabble life – with his father working long and hard to become an officer in the police – steps up from constable. Kimi was born to Bollywood royalty – with money and privilege, a large mansion overlooking the sea, and an immune system that endangers her life and requires she live in isolation between medical treatments.
Both Kimi and Rahul have experienced loss and fear losing those they love even more. But both differ in their reactions: he closes off his feelings and emotions, she dives in with both feet, expecting that for this moment, things will be just wonderful. As her only friend, Rahul becomes a focal point for Kimi: he’s sharing moments of the ‘outside world’ with her, helping her with her homework, guiding her to protect her heart and self from the dangers that exist. While he tries to ‘educate’ her to the darker side of life – she challenges his control that won’t allow him to think of her as someone he needs or loves, since that always ends. And he believes that every step forward they make together – speaking, touching, daring to be close – are dangerous to her. But Kimi challenges his views of the world and his place in it – challenges him to take up the civil service exams and join the police.
Behind the major story of Kimi and Rahul’s relationship and the various ups and downs therein, the story brings us to the black market for organ donations, missing donors from the list, and the death of a young mother to be who was the first to see the connection between missing people on her donor database and people coming off the transplant list. The ringleader of this despicable business is in the hospital, in a coma, put there by Rahul – and he’s only waiting for the man to awake for questioning – as he needs answers about his friend’s death and the other people threatened and manipulated as part of the black market organization. But the strings and ties go deeper – from the missing undocumented to the doctor and a series of complicit medical personnel, threats and more death as others are lost, found and compromised, the corruption and back-alley dealings go deeper and further than anyone expected.
Dev created an intriguing story that takes a bit to adjust to as the points of view alternate in past, distant past and present form: readers have to take the story as it comes in bits and pieces and wait for them to fall into place to create the full picture. Underlying the entire story is the mystery and at its core – love. What is true love, and to what lengths would you go to for that love: and can you really (even with concerted effort) deny love when it is there. I’ll have to say that the ultimate antagonist in the story was clear to me early on, and it was his own cover-up and manipulations of situations and people that showed his determination and desperate need to achieve his own ends, no matter the cost. I still needed to read on and see if I was right, not to mention just how the revelations would affect Kimi, Rahul and their own relationship that has a repeated ‘testing’ theme – she demanding he leave and never return, then waiting for him to come back – nine times (they both count).
I love Dev’s writing – it brings a sense of the difference that is India while presenting the people and situations as one that is accessible and easy to visualize. From the colors and scents that are vibrant and slightly tangy to the integral human emotions of fear, love, anger and even desire that bring it all to light. Easily read on its own – this is the third in this loosely connected series that I’ve read – and each comes with moments that put me in the center of the place, with the emotions being easy to access and reach without difficulty.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This book is easily my favorite in the Bollywood series so far. It definitely has a different feel than the other books in the series since it flashes back to Kimi and Rahul’s childhoods and it takes place in India, but I think it’s all the better for those things!
What Fed My Addiction:
A lifetime romance. I am a sucker for a story of childhood friends who become more, and I absolutely loved seeing the friendship between Kimi and Rahul develop. Their history makes every moment between them (in the present) crackle with chemistry, even when they’re trying to deny it.
The setting. I’ll confess that I don’t know much about India, but Dev did such a fantastic job of setting the atmosphere that I felt like I truly got to know Mumbai.
Class structures. Kimi and Rahul come from different worlds, even though they live in the same city. And a major theme of the book was the exploration of how the difference in class affected them, both separately and as a couple. Rahul came from nothing, and he felt indebted to Kimi’s father—a feeling he did not particularly savor. At first, he felt a lot of bitterness because of that. But Kimi changed all that for him. She humanized the wealthy and powerful in a way that her father never could. I thought it was interesting that though class differences were a definite focus of the book, it wasn’t really what kept Kimi and Rahul apart (which is what you would stereotypically expect). Their story was much more complicated than that.
High stakes. From the beginning, Kimi and Rahul are trying to solve a mystery that we already know the answer to. This could have made for a boring book, but it didn’t. Part of that is because the focus of the book is really on the relationship between Kimi and Rahul (including how it developed throughout their childhood). But also, because we know that the person hunting Kimi is serious—and seriously dangerous—the stakes are very high and the story is intense at certain points.
What Left Me Hungry for More:
Not much. I was a bit worried at first that the obstacle to the romance in this book was going to be a little too close to the obstacle in book two (basically, one half of the couple believes that they’re somehow cursed and are bad for the other person). But, in the end, this story felt more nuanced and I truly understood Rahul and his trepidation about getting close to anyone—especially Kimi.
This is a fantastic installment in the Bollywood Series! (Though, just as a warning, it has almost nothing to do with Bollywood). These complex characters are sure to win your heart (and break it a little along the way). I give this book an easy 4.5/5 Stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via ALA Annual in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
There is always a danger when you are waiting anxiously for a book that it won't live up to your expectations. Sonali Dev set the bar incredibly high with her previous books and there is always that worry that the next one will be a weak link in the chain. Fortunately, Dev is better than that and this book is an excellent conclusion to her Bollywood series.
First things first, this is not a standalone novel. It really is necessary to read the previous book, A Change of Heart, before starting this one as the plot actually begins in that book (and it you really should read The Bollywood Bride before A Change of Heart. It isn't necessary to read the first book in the series, A Bollywood Affair, before reading the others--but you really should because it is awesome!).
I will say that I had a minor issue, completely of my own making, between these two books. Rahul is introduced in A Change of Heart, and I pictured him completely differently than he's presented here. This is not Dev's fault--nothing in her previous book contradicts how his character develops here. Instead, it was what I put on him in the previous book. The fact that I recently did an audio re-read of A Change of Heart and the narrator used a much older sounding voice for him didn't help. Again, this wasn't a problem with the book, but something I had to adjust to. Once I got used to him, I really enjoyed Rahul. I found him to be much deeper than we usually see with romance heros. I have to admit that I fell a little bit in love with him--not that I want Kimi out of the way, mind you!
Kimi, oh Kimi! I need to start this by saying that I adored her--but I'm not sure I can describe her in a way that doesn't make her sound a little annoying. She reminded me a bit of one of those overly cheerful people that seem oblvious to others troubles (but in a good way!) She is more than a bit self-centered (but in a good way!) and she definitely is a bit spoiled (but in a good way!) I told you--it isn't going to sound like she'd be likable, but she really is! She is the sort of person who just want to have around you, who would do anything for those she cares about.
While there is a dark central plot here (can you get darker than black market organ theft?), this is one of the lighter books in the series. It is a retelling of Rapunzel and I loved how Dev allowed Kimi and Rahul's relationship to grow. Things start as a friendship--and a real friendship So often, we get "friendships" which are really just precursors to someone wanting to get into someone else's pants. Kimi and Rahul's, however, seems much more organic.
This is the only book in the Bollywood series to be set completely in India (well, nearly--there is one short foray to Hong Kong). The description is so detailed that you feel like you are there. I could almost smell the spices that permeate the air. Most striking is how well Dev illustrates the differences between the haves and have-nots in this society. So, while this is a retelling of Rapunzel, it also has strong Dirty Dancing overtones, and there is nothing bad about Dirty Dancing overtones!
I think I say this in every review I've done of Dev's books, but I just love her writing. Both Kimi and Rahul's personalities are wrapped up in the words that Dev uses. Plus, there are just some lovely passages. This particular one hit me so strongly that I marked it in my book (and I never mark up my books!):
"Contrary to what people believed about her, she didn't believe that she was the center of her universe. She was in fact someone whose entire existence focused on wanting a universe she could be part of."
See! I told you that Kimi was fabulous, despite everything I also said about her!
I can't recommend this book enough--actually, I can't recommend this entire series enough. Sonali Dev is the author who got me back into reading romance, and I will be forever grateful to her for that.
I really loved Sonali Dev’s previous books, especially A Change of Heart, which introduced the characters of Rahul and Kimi, so I was excited to see them take center stage in A Distant Heart. Overall, though, A Distant Heart just didn’t grab me in the way that Dev’s other books have. All of her previous books were binge-reads for me; I sat down and read them straight through without stopping. I didn’t feel the same compulsion with A Distant Heart—it was never much of a struggle to put the book down and tell myself I’d come back to it later.
This is the first of Dev’s novels to be set almost entirely in India (there’s a short interlude in Hong Kong), and she does an excellent job slipping in local details and explanations of them without hitting American readers over the head with teaching moments. Her prose is really tight and well-edited, with very natural-sounding dialogue—I think each of Dev’s books has gotten stronger in this regard. (And I hate writing dialogue and find it incredibly difficult, so I admire that Dev has worked so hard on this element of her craft.)
There are two reasons that A Distant Heart didn’t really click with me. The first relates to structure: I don’t mind when books move between present-day events and flashbacks, but I don’t like when present-day characters act all mysterious about events that are then later revealed in flashbacks. Present-day Kimi and Rahul would frequently be super-vague about what had happened in the past; I didn’t find this vagueness and the later explanations suspenseful, just frustrating. The second element of A Distant Heart that I didn’t find engaging was the mystery at the center of the plot. So much time was spent on super-villain Asif Khan, when what I wanted was more Kimi and Rahul.
That’s Dev’s strength: writing a compelling central couple that I really get invested in seeing end up together. She once again succeeds in that with Kimi and Rahul, who have been through a lot in the years they’ve known each other and need to figure out how to reconcile their history with their future. I really wanted more of their story, without the forays into detective work and organ theft (a storyline that I had thought worked fine in A Change of Heart but I wish had been wrapped up in that book, not carried over to this one). Sonali Dev is still one of my favorite romance writers and I’ll definitely continue to pick up her new books as they come out—this one just didn’t hit the spot for me in the ways that all of her previous novels have.