The author offered me an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and am I ever glad that I got this chance! This is another winner from Sundari Venkatraman, though I have to admit I still consider her previous book “The Madras Affair” my favourite (read review here).
The story starts with a bang – almost literally, as there’s a murder to be discovered and discussed. What follows didn’t read at all like the romance novels I was used to by the author for a while, but it did capture my attention and hooked me. Keeping in mind that this is a stab at romantic suspense, I found the beginning almost perfect in hindsight (yes, I read it again after I had finished the book, just to see it all in a different light). The author set up the stage, introduced the main characters and threw in the tiniest inkling of the romance to come, like a bee buzzing against a window. And that window was thrown wide open when I entered a sort of flashback and finally found out more about Anjali and Parth.
Speaking of the main characters – the couple and another ‘couple’ – I am full of praise. Being an author myself, I love reading about authors, and Parth was no disappointment. His mix of intelligence, insistence, to-die-for looks and calm confidence really drew me in. As for Anjali, she reminded me a little of the heroine of “The Madras Affair”, Sangeeta, like a duckling (not ugly) just waiting to burst forth into a glorious swan. Her strength, intelligence and determination were always palpable, yet in a more subdued way. And I loved her attitude and behaviour towards her son Arjun and her husband Jayant.
As for Arjun, he was like a refreshing breeze throughout the book. Fanning the flames when needed, becoming a whirlwind at some times, cooling down and soothing at other times. I’d love to learn more about him and his Jane, hinted at in the story. Jayant, his father by blood but by not much else, was just the right antagonist. I loved hating him, though at times I have to say I couldn’t even hate him. He struck me as a cliché personified, as a canvas for portraying all that’s wrong with society.
The story was fast-paced, brisk and to the point, lingering just at the right moments while only scratching the surface at other moments. I’d have loved to learn more about the Anjali of the past and about the marriage leading to this ‘culmination’, and I’d have loved it even more to learn more about Parth because he’s so full of potential. As for the murderer… I guessed correctly. I dare you to do so too!