The story starts with a real shocker—and those are the best ways to catch the reader. The casual way in which the child marriage was handled by the people involved left me with an uneasy feeling. As if the marriage alone wasn’t shocking enough, the young groom (Veerendra) runs away and is lost to his family. The even younger bride’s (Chanda) family can’t live with the shame and moves to the big city of Jaipur to start anew. Fast forward 14 years, and we are introduced to the then child-bride and now student Chanda. She makes for a wonderful heroine, shy yet intelligent, innocent yet eager to learn. When she meets dashing Ranveer and is hired as an intern at his IT company in Delhi, two worlds collide. I totally fell for the hero along with Chanda, he’s just so gorgeous. And the difference in their characters makes for interesting dilemmas. He’s more modern with an almost foreign approach to things, he isn’t a family person, and he is hugely successful in his business. His experience, his confidence and his suave manners contrast with Chanda’s behaviour. The chemistry between them is sizzling, their interactions are full of emotions, and the steamy scenes are beautifully written. Chanda’s family want to marry her off, but when they consult an astrologer, the past bullies its way into the present. Instead of finding a new bridegroom for their daughter, the parents have to chase the old groom whose life is supposed to be inextricably mixed with Chanda’s. I immensely enjoyed all the twists in this.
So much for the love story. Now enter complications left, right and center, and you have a tantalizing mix like that spicy masala snack Indians (and Sri Lankans) love to munch. I found it a wonderful touch that the author chose to give Chanda such a big family full of caring brothers. Each of them and the parents are very well fleshed out and enhance the plot. Talking about secondary characters, let’s not forget Shikla, working at Ranveer’s office and wanting a piece of the Ranveer cake. I loved hating her, she was the ideal villain. She plays an important role in the story and adds zing to the read.
Of course I have to mention the astrologer and his magical touch. Ever since I came to Sri Lanka from almost 20 years in Germany, I’ve been confronted with astrology and its utmost important in society, and I know India is much the same. Personally, I’m a huge skeptic, but it was intriguing to see how astrology was woven into the story. A very neat move that had me shout and gasp and laugh at times!
There’s so much more to praise. Take Venkatraman’s effortlessly flowing prose style, and her way of making each scene and character come alive. Once again, I was reminded of a movie or drama on television. I haven’t read all of the author’s books yet—I will, mark my words—but out of what I have read, this one is her best!
I was hugely entertained by this book, but “The Runaway Bridegroom” also made me very thoughtful. How tragic that child marriage is still so common! How magical that two people who are destined to be together somehow find a way!
Rating: 5 out 5
Pre-order link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N7IN69E