I don’t generally like to read supernatural/paranormal or dark thrillers. But I was gifted this book and decided to give it a chance.
I like my protagonists and antagonists to be clear right from the start, but this book turns the concept on its head. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? Nothing is as it seems.
But the author kept me trapped in the pages filled with danger and fear for the complex characters. The gripping page-turner weaves through a web of deceit, conflict, murder and love, leading to a satisfying end. I might check out other books in this genre and by this author.
Note: Avoid reading at night.
Recommended for lovers of paranormal romantic suspense.
All Esha knows about love is what she’s experienced with her best friend, Ayush. But Ayush is old-fashioned and wants her to go to America with him, forsaking her ailing father. For Esha, who lost her mother to cancer when she was young, that prospect is unthinkable. Her father is dying of cancer, and she has no way to fund his treatment. Relatives ditch her and Ayush’s mother doesn’t want him burdened with sickness. Even Ayush cannot understand why she thinks it’s her duty.
Enter Rohan, her boss, who is stuck in a family situation of his own, and needs a wife. He has looks, charm, and most importantly, he has money. And he’s willing to help. Esha goes into a marriage contract with her boss under the watchful eye of the entire company; she becomes the wife so he can deal with his family, and he provides the money for her father’s treatment.
I enjoyed the author’s take on contract marriages. It starts out all business at first, but gets complicated when they both fall for each other. The author touches on social themes of Indian traditions where a woman is expected to care for her husband’s family, and a son is expected to take care of his. So who takes care of aging parents who only have a daughter? As social norms break, more and more daughters are found taking care of parents, and it sets a great example for the youth to follow.
It also helps that she’s strong and stunning and he’s hot, and their interactions are electric, the steamy scenes believable, the dialogue pert, the story concise and crisp. Great job by Ms. Ramesh.
I received a review copy of this book.
Esha Mehra could have taken care of her father, only if she had some support from her fiancé. But he had his priorities set and her sick father was nothing but a burden. Esha didn't have any other choice but to apply for a loan from her office. But she had not banked on the fact that the Head of Geno Technologies needed her for other reasons.
When Rohan Sharma saw Esha for the first time, he felt she was the one. He had no intention of falling in love with her for the pain of the past was still too much to bear.
But he did need Esha as a decoy to his plan. But Esha was not a damsel in distress who would bend to his will easily. While he was sure that he would marry her only for six months, he still couldn’t understand why he felt a searing jealousy every time, her ex-fiancé Ayush’s name was mentioned.
While these two souls had other plans in their lives, Destiny conspires to bring them together. But will the stench of Death let them live their lives?
Read an excerpt:
On seeing her, he grinned. "There goes my dream of my bride sitting on the bed with a long veil over her face that I could slowly lift up."
Esha laughed. "Do it in your real wedding."
Rohan felt a jolt at her words though his feelings had stopped making any sense at all. He found her pajama-clad wet avatar very sensual. Her hair was wet from the shower and a few droplets fell on her collarbone, like dew drops on a rose petal. Now that he was finally alone with Esha, he wanted to further muss up her hair and kiss those wet pearls away. But never had he imagined that he would be alone in a room with her amidst roses and that her intoxicating perfume would drive him crazy. Theirs wasn't a marriage in the true sense and yet her lips were calling out to him to feel them with his own.
But he was sure that she wouldn't appreciate it. He forced himself to lean back on the pillow and give her an easy smile to fight his raging hormones. "So, which side of the bed is yours?"
She looked at him sharply to check if he was laughing at her predicament. She then went to her purse and took out a tape—a big, brown one.
"Naughty, naughty," he said sitting up, suddenly feeling the air crackling between them with an invisible electric thread that was slowly pulling them towards each other. "What's your intention darling?"
Esha gave him an evil grin and sashayed towards him, all the while opening the tape. "You didn't think I would be prepared?" she asked, her voice husky. Any hot-blooded man would find this a big turn-on but Rohan sat up straight, wondering if she was drunk.
"Esha, I think we should go to sleep now." He gave her a sheepish smile. "It's getting very late."
She threw back her head and laughed, "The night is still young, darling." She opened the tape further and climbed on the bed, inching slowly towards him as she rolled it out. Rohan could feel his heart skipping a few beats. He wanted her no doubt, but he was not expecting this and her strange behavior made him uncomfortable.
"Do you want something to eat?" He sounded lame even to himself. She threw her head back and looked at him, her sherry colored eyes darkening into molten chocolate, and the light breeze from the window caught her silk tresses and made them dance to a tune of their own. She bit her lower lip and leaned in front of him, staring deep into his eyes. "Are you nervous?"
"Why are you behaving like this?" he asked, trying to get out of the bed. He felt an invisible hand clutching his stomach but he kept his tone breezy. "Are we taking this night to mean what it is meant to be? I'm ready if you are."
If she took another step forward, her breasts would touch him. What the devil was she playing at? He couldn't even lean back further since the head rest was stopping any further movement. She leaned forward but instead of coming towards him, she went beyond him and stuck the edge of the tape to the middle of the bed post. She then pulled the tape down – further and further and a line was drawn along the middle of the bed.
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About the author
Rubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. Her first literary work was published in her school magazine. It gave her immense pride to see her own name at the bottom of the article. She was about 8 years old at that time. She then went to complete her MBA and after her marriage to her childhood friend, her travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles she lived her life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, she finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona. Living with her DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, Rubina has finally started living the life she had always dreamed about – that of a writer.
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HER SECRET HUSBAND
(Marriages Made in Heaven Book #3)
The Maheshwaris are back, a little secretly this time!
What do you do if you find a man who looks like chocolate, speaks like warm syrup, looks at you like you were the most precious cake ever created, and he can bake too? You marry him, even if in secret.
Ruma Malhotra falls head over heels and a little more in love with Lakshman Maheshwari, but her parents insist that she marry a rich businessman of their choice. When Ruma's only option is to marry Lakshman in secret, she is left torn between her love for her parents and her passion for Lakshman. Is a secret marriage the solution or will it lead the way to a public disappointment?
Lakshman Maheshwari falls in love with Ruma Malhotra the first time he sets his eyes on her in Ranveer's office. Will he agree to marry Ruma in secret even if it means betraying his parents?
Psst... Those who have read THE MALHOTRA BRIDE might be happy to reconnect with Sunita & Akshay Malhotra in this one.
*MARRIAGES MADE IN INDIA is a five-novella series that revolves around the characters you have met in The Runaway Bridegroom.
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Read an excerpt from #HSH
âWhatâs up?â he asked, trying to keep the situation light.
She winked at him. âShouldnât I be asking that question?â she asked, looking pointedly down at his lower body.
Reacting to her flirtation, his manhood immediately sprang to action, making Lakshman swear. âCut that out, Ruma,â he growled, sidestepping her as she wouldâve wrapped her arms around him. âI need a shower,â he insisted, not meeting her eyes. He went into the bathroom and locked himself in. The place smelled of Ruma. Cursing, Lakshman stood under the cold shower to tame his libido. She looked like she meant business. How could he convince her to wait till they got married? He dried himself with the towel that was on a rack, glaring at the mirror. He needed a shave. But no, they werenât going to make love, so it didnât really matter. Just then he realised that he would have to step out in the towel as his clothes were in the wardrobe. Swearing again, Lakshman walked into the bedroom.
âLaki,â called out Ruma, eyeing him avidly. Fascinated, she got up from the bed and walked up to him. He appeared like a Greek God with his chiselled body that was still damp from the shower.
She stood close to him and raised her left hand to caress his rough cheek. Her right hand was hooked into his towel as if she was going to pull it off him any second. Lakshman clamped his hand on hers, his fingers holding the towel firmly. âNo!â
âHuh?!â She looked deeply into his eyes, her brown gaze like melted cocoa, inviting him to make love to her. Her mouth was pouted deliciously, glistening wetly, begging for a kiss. Lakshman groaned deep in his throat, letting go of her hand to wrap his arms around her. He placed his lips on hers, sucking her upper lip. She tasted as sweet as honey, driving him crazy. His right hand moved down the curve of her hip to touch a thigh. He traced the curve, working his way under her nightshirt to encounter her bare bottom.
âRuma.â He deliberately removed his hands off her and raised his head to look at her.
She stared back at him with slumberous eyes. âWhat?â A small frown puckered her forehead.
âWeâll make love after we get married,â he declared.
âWhat if I donât agree?â
âIâll have to beg, right?â he grinned weakly. âPlease, my love. You know your parents wonât agree to a marriage between us. Doesnât it make sense to wait until after the event?â
âWhat if I want you desperately?â She nuzzled his neck, her teeth taking a sharp nip.
Lakshman groaned again, his arms crushing her to his chest. âDo you love me or just lust after my body?â
âCanât I do both?â
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About the author
Her Secret Husband is the tenth book authored by Sundari Venkatraman. This is a hot romance and is Book #3 of the 5-novella series titled Marriages Made in India. Book #1 of the series is The Smitten Husband & Book #2 is His Drunken Wife. Other published novels by the author are The Malhotra Bride, Meghna, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Madras Affair and An Autograph for Anjaliâall romances. She also has a collection of romantic shorts called Matches Made in Heaven; and a collection of human interest stories called Tales of Sunshine. All of Sundari Venkatramanâs books are on Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in India, USA, UK, Canada & Australia under both #romance & #drama categories.
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"Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?" is a crime drama that takes us into the Victorian times in 1888, in the city of Bradford, England. Young John Gill has been murdered in a most dastardly manner, his body hacked up, and his organs displaced, in a method eerily similar to the London murders committed by Jack the Ripper.
But is this the work of Jack the Ripper, or a copycat murderer? Kathryn McMaster takes us on a heart wrenching journey as she puts together clues and hints at what might have happened. She takes you skillfully into the street where the events take place, and you experience the tension and sorrow surrounding the crime.
It was about half-way through the book that I realized this was based on a true-story and is a fictionalized account of the true murder of a young boy in Bradford, England, based on documents and trial transcripts.
As we delve deeper into the story, we find out that John was last seen in the company of one William Barrett, whose movements and actions on the day of and in the days following the murder are suspicious. Many in the city believe in his innocence, and without going into details to avoid spoilers, the big question is:
Is William Barrett innocent?
Whether you know how the trial ended, or were surprised by it as I was, this book will take you on a journey you will not easily forget.
Kudos to McMaster!
Buy it on Amazon
I came upon this book without knowing anything about the plot, thinking it would be an easy, fun read. It would be a dynamic between two sisters, possible jealousy, possible sibling rivalry. So I picked it up and began to read it. And boy, Kyla Stone has a way with words! In the short read of 45 pages, she has packed character development, character arc, dialogue, setting, foreshadowing, and a satisfying end.
The opening scene with flies is gut-wrenching, because it foreshadows something sinister. The relationship of Emmalyn with her new boyfriend is sweet. He seems like a clueless slob, but appears to love her, and is the only real relationship she has. Then comes Emmalyn’s family, in the midst of a challenging time, and the reader longs to know what is happening. We know it is something ominous and creepy, and the author hints at the issue.
I particularly liked the way Stone dealt with the relationship between the sisters: genuine and intense. The scene about Ava, the little sister, destroying Emmalyn’s school project without remorse, but with delight, lasted with me a long time. We know no one is inherently bad. But why does Ava behave in that manner? Is she acting out? Is she just seeking attention?
And then comes the hard truth. You know it is happening. You know what it must be. And when it happens, you want to cry for the family.
Stone has knitted a story highlighting harsh reality with raw intensity that was at times difficult to digest, but rendered me incapable of putting it down.
Buy it here.
by Emily Giffin
A family drama with tragedy, forgiveness and acceptance
First Comes Love is a story of two sisters struggling to make sense of their lives at the fifteenth anniversary of their brother’s tragic death in a car accident. Rosie, the spunky, extroverted sister is now a school teacher who has lost the love of her life and now lives with her best friend, a guy. Nearing forty, she had decided to use a sperm bank to conceive a child, and her quest is to find an appropriate donor. Meredith is the reserved control-freak actress-turned-lawyer married her brother’s best friend out of a feeling of obligation. Her quest is difficult to define; throughout the book, she’s trying to decide if she really loves her husband.
The family is torn apart due to the tragedy and the parents are divorced; Meredith has bought the family home, which ties her further to the past.
The two sisters have an unusually tumultuous relationship; most sisters I know (and my own) are really good friends. But tragedy has distanced them further. There is a passing mention of their relationship before the tragedy, but even that was hair-pulling and ‘won’t-share-my-necklace’ type of drama. At the end of the book, after painful secrets come out and each defines her own priorities, they come to an equilibrium of understanding.
The characters are deeply flawed: Rosie is self-indulgent and bossy without many redeeming qualities, something any protagonist needs to be relatable. Meredith is the jealous type who can’t find anything good about her sister or her own life. I didn’t like either character, but was compelled to complete the story.
The novel delves into the concepts of survivor’s guilt, forgiveness, jealousy, and the ultimate desire to follow your heart. The characters may not be likeable, but the story is well-written and riveting.
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A romance with a powerful social message!
The book starts with Sangita, the empowered, successful head of an NGO that works to improve the lives of battered and homeless women. We are introduced to her supporting and loving husband Gautam, an American.
As the story unfolds, we find out about Sangita’s past. She is born to an orthodox South Indian family and married off at the age of nineteen. We find out about her abusive husband, his sudden death while driving drunk, and the impossible demands and blame her family places on Sangita and her little boy. Young Sangita falls head over heels with Gautam while working as a receptionist in a hospital,. But she has been brought up to follow the norms of her conservative society and finds it difficult to accept Gautam’s affection.
Gautam is born to an American father and Indian mother, and lives with his grandparents in India, teaching at a local university. Having grown up in the US, he does not understand the traditions and taboos a young widow with a child faces.
With the help of her sister-in-law, her son, and Gautam’s grandparents, Sangita finds the will to overcome parental pressure and establish her authority to finally free herself form the societal chains that bind her.
With strong and well fleshed out characters, an interesting plotline, vivid imagery and a satisfying conclusion, Sundari Venkatraman takes us on a romantic journey, which leaves us smiling in the end.
Until I Met Her by Natalie Barelli
Before Emma Fern meets Beatrice Hodgson-Greene, she is a sweet, happy, and easy going store owner in a reasonably happy marriage.
Enter Beatrice, a best-selling author of crime fiction, who comes to Emma with an offer: Beatrice needs someone to be ‘the author’ of her yet to be published novel, because it is of a different genre. Emma has unfulfilled literary ambitions, and finds the offer impossible to refuse.
As they begin their imbalanced and bumpy ‘friendship’, things take a turn for the worse, and you find yourself rooting for poor Emma, as she takes decision after self-destructive decision, in a journey of shocking discoveries and unexpected turns.
I enjoy a good psychological thriller, and Natalie Barelli’s Until I met Her didn’t fail to entertain. In fact, instead of going out for a jog, I found myself glued to the exercise bike at home, with the iPad in my hands, waiting for the next mind-boggling twist.
A fast paced, interesing read.
Clean Break by Abby Vegas
A Clean Break is, at its heart, a romance with elements of suspense. It is the story of a down-on-her-luck, used-to-be-rich girl Lane, who is trying to get a clean break and start over. She may have lost everything, but her greatest asset is her personality.
When she loses her deposit for an apartment in New York and must live in the basement of a suspicious Russian-mafia-type organization, she has no choice but to accept her fate. But Lane is such a spunky, strong, impulsive, loving young woman with a quirky sense of humor, that I fell in love with her character from the first page.
Viktor is everything Lane should avoid: devastatingly handsome, with a quaint accent and startling blue eyes, numerous tattoos, and a past he prefers to hide. But he keeps showing up when she needs him. He seems like a really good guy at heart. Hurting, just like her. But he also seems linked to the Russian mafia, and her only friend warns her not to get too close to him. But their attraction is irresistible.
What I like most about the book is Ms Vegas’s ‘voice’. For a debut novel, Ms Vegas has such a great voice, that it almost seems she’s talking from experience, about herself. In addition, her descriptions of places and people are vivid and enriching. The character arc is well built for all the characters, including Lane’s boss, eventually leading to a satisfying end.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was rooting for Lane all the way!
All opinions on the books listed here are my own.