Originally posted on Love in the Margins.
American-born ingénue Rakhee “Rocky” Varma knows a career in Bollywood is no fairy tale, but that truth hits home when her outspoken nature lands her in hot water with the media.
Banished to her leading man’s crumbling mansion on the outskirts of Delhi until things cool down, she is wholly unprepared to meet her costar’s reclusive brother, Taj Ali Khan. Taj, a former action hero until a stunt gone horribly wrong ended his career, wears a cape of scars and a crown of rudeness.
As his cynicism collides with her determination to stick it out in Bollywood no matter what, sparks fly. But little do they know that demons not of their making may turn their fiery, fragile connection to ash. And it will take more than sheer grit to face down the most frightening monsters of all—the ones inside themselves.
Warning: This book contains lewd comments, forbidden love, lots of angsty glances, inappropriate use of an Indian scarf, and an oddly appropriate reference to Lord of the Rings.
Rocky Varma is a young actress who moves from America to her father’s native India to become a Bollywood star. Her language skills leave much to be desired and a slight culture shock is just another obstacle she must work through to achieve her goal. There’s one friendly face in the crowd but Rocky’s co-star, Ashraf Khan, has his own troubles to work through. One of these problems for both of them is Taj Ali Khan, Ashraf’s older brother.
I don’t know much about India. I can find it on a map, cobble together two or three historical facts, and the little I learned of Hinduism in school I’ve had ample time to forget. Luckily none that hindered my reading experience of Bollywood and the Beast because Snyder’s writing is magic.
“He wore his nightmares like a second skin. Ashraf couldn’t scrub them away under the hot spray of the shower. He could barely cover them in clothing.”
Magic or poetry. Either works for me and both work for the fairytale retelling that is the story. Rocky is the Beauty who faces Taj’s wounded Beast. They meet and sparks fly. Also parents and staff make things slightly inconvenient. I liked their romance even though it felt partly neglected in favour of Ashraf’s story, which didn’t bother me at all because I loved Ashraf’s story with its dark moments and painful reticence.
Ashraf has made some questionable choices to achieve what his brother lost years earlier and now he’s paying for those mistakes that raise interesting questions about consent. He has his brother and a friend in Rocky, but he needs more to put himself back together.
I loved it and I cried.
Final Assessment: Read it. B
Source: Advanced Readers’ Copy provided for review.
Series: Bollywood Confidential #3.