Interview with Shoma Narayana, Author of Secrets & Saris

Please welcome Shoma Narayanan to the virtual offices today!  Shoma is here to chat about her latest Harlequin release, Secrets & Saris, which is part of the KISS lineup.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Shoma Narayanan] Love writing, hate deadlines.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Secrets & Saris?

[Shoma Narayanan] "Secrets and Saris" is about a rather unlikely couple – Shefali, who’s beautiful, charming, and has been recently jilted; and Neil, who’s a young, gorgeous, single father. Shefali moves to a small town to escape the gossip after her fiancé doesn’t turn up for their wedding. Neil runs an award-winning TV show, and chooses the same town to shoot one of the episodes for the show. Sparks fly when they meet each other, and in spite of her vow to steer clear of men, Shefali finds herself more and more drawn to Neil….

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Shoma Narayanan] The idea for the story came up during a visit to Jabalpur, the town where most of the story is set. I thought it would be interesting to explore the reactions of a rather conventionally brought-up, slightly spoilt big-city girl when she’s forced to adapt to small town life. And what happens when she meets a man who seems to have adapted perfectly to his surroundings, but is actually carrying a huge amount of baggage.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Shefali?

[Shoma Narayanan] Beautiful, determined, and just a little spoilt

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Neil had a theme song, what would it be?

[Shoma Narayanan] Difficult to say

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Shefali is never without.

[Shoma Narayanan] Her handbag – she carries half her life around in it

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Neil’s bedroom?

[Shoma Narayanan] Cigarettes; a clock; flowers

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Shefali’s greatest regret?

[Shoma Narayanan] Having blindly followed the plan her parents had chalked out for her without trying to figure out what she wanted for herself

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Shoma Narayanan] The books I’ve read over the last 30+ years, right from the classics to detective fiction, to romance and chick-lit. Even non-fiction is an influence in a way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Shoma Narayanan] My laptop, my bean bag, and a good night’s sleep. Silence would be good as well, but with two kids I’ve forgotten what its like to have a quiet house.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Shoma Narayanan] Romance: "The One That Got Away", by Kelly Hunter

Non-romance: "The Rational Optimist"

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Shoma Narayanan] The first book I ever read – it was called "The Enormous Turnip", and I read it over and over and over again! And "To Kill a Mockingbird", which I read when I was considerably older.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Shoma Narayanan] Reading; various vaguely ‘artistic’ hobbies like painting cartoon character murals on my kids’ walls; sewing, knitting and crochet (the most fun part is bullying the kids into wearing what I’ve made). I work full-time in a bank in addition to writing, so I don’t really get all that much free time :-(

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Shoma Narayanan] Through Goodreads, or through my Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shoma-Narayanan

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Purchase links:

Print version available now, eBook releases June 1

About the book:

A secret that could cause scandal!Jilted at the altar, Shefali Khanna should be humiliated. Instead she takes the opportunity to start again. Top of the priority list: do not tumble headfirst into another relationship!

But even moving from the city to the country can’t keep Shefali out of trouble—especially when she catches the eye of local celeb Neil Mitra! There is no way she can risk a scandal already! He might be gorgeous, but he’s totally off-limits…right?

Extra bonus: included is The Wedding Dress Diaries by Aimee Carson, the prequel to our fab new quartet!

Read an excerpt here

Review: Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

 

Title: Busted in Bollywood

Author: Nicola Marsh

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

ISBN: B006GR35RQ

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Shari Jones needs to get a life. Preferably someone else’s.

Single, homeless and jobless, Indo-American Shari agrees to her best friend’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancé her traditional Indian parents have chosen. Simple. Until she’s mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancé.
Life is less complicated in New York.

Or so she thinks, until the entourage of crazies follows her to the Big Apple and that’s when the fun really begins. Shari deals with a blossoming romance, an addiction to Indian food and her first movie role, while secretly craving another trip to the mystical land responsible for sparking her new lease on life. Returning to her Indian birthplace, she has an epiphany. Maybe the happily-ever-after of her dreams isn’t so far away?

Review:

When I was given the opportunity to review Busted in Bollywood, I jumped at the chance.  First, I am interested in Entangled Publishing, and I wasn’t very familiar with their titles, so I thought this would be a good way to see what they have to offer (I’ve read several of their titles now, and overall, I have enjoyed all of them).  Second, I love Indian food and Bollywood videos, so when I learned that the heroine goes to Mumbai, I was eager to dive into the story.  It was an additional bonus when I also discovered that I have snapped up several of Nicola Marsh’s Harlequin titles at the Borders close-out sale, so I was interested to start reading her books.  I am glad that I don’t have to backtrack too far now, because I was able to add much of her backlist to my TBR already!

Shari has allowed herself to be talked into a hare-brained scheme to help her BFF Rita get out of the marriage her traditional Indian parents have arranged for her.  Being a traditional Indian when it comes to her parents’ demands, Rita doesn’t want to shame them by breaking off the engagement herself.  Instead, she sweet-talks Shari into going to India in her place, meeting her undoubtedly boring intended, and painlessly turning him down.  Since Shari’s life is on the skids and she is wandering aimlessly from day to day after the breakup with her boyfriend, a change of scenery sounds wonderfully adventurous to her.   After some initial reservations, she allows herself to be packed up and put on an airplane without much resistance.

When we are first introduced to Shari, her life really is a mess.  She is homeless and jobless, thanks to her lying snake of a boss, and she’s having a hard time getting over him.  Even though he was cheating on his wife and their relationship was pretty much at his convenience.  Shari was so sure he was going to leave his wife, so it came as a blow to her to learn that the wife was pregnant.  So much for the promised divorce so that they could stop sneaking around behind everyone’s back. To learn that he was just playing her all along is a bitter pill for Shari.  Losing the apartment he owned and her job at his law firm were just the icing on the cake.  In the blink of an eye, her entire world came tumbling down around her.

While I didn’t feel a whole lot of sympathy for Shari’s situation, I did warm up to her right away.  She realizes that she’s made a major misjudgment in character, and after months of moping around, she is eager to put the unpleasant incident behind her.  How better to refresh yourself than an all-expenses paid trip to India?  What a perfect way to explore her mother’s birthplace.  Who cares that the food is full of fatty goodness? Or that she has to pretend to be her best friend and crush a guy’s hopes?  Ah, that’s a small price to pay to eat all of that wonderful food!

I loved the first part of this story when Shari was be-bopping around India with Rita’s Auntie Anjali.  This was a fun, glutton filled romp about the tourist sites and food stalls as Shari tries to prep herself for the big brush off.  I couldn’t help but laugh when Rita’s intended, Rakesh, abruptly turns the tables on her – if she doesn’t play along with his plans, he is going to blow her cover.  When Rakesh’s best buddy Drew enters the picture, sparks fly instantly.  Too bad he thinks she’s a gold-digger and that she’s only after Rakesh’s sizeable bank account.  Despite being a complete jerk, he is totally hot.  After sharing some not so playful banter, Shari just can’t get him out of her head.  No wonder she keeps having guy troubles!  She gravitates toward pompous buttheads.

This is a fun read, though I felt that the ending started to get a bit bogged down as Shari kept finding reasons to not confess her feelings to Drew.  She wasn’t good enough for him, she wasn’t independent enough for him, having a long-distance relationship would just be too hard, he wasn’t totally open and honest about his background, and now she can’t trust him.  Her excuses were too feeble for me, considering how much she did care for him, and her reservations just added an artificial distance between them.  I wanted her to stop taking the easy way out, to stop running from her problems, and to stand up for herself and for what she wanted.  It was gratifying when she finally did.

Busted in Bollywood is a light read with engaging characters and exotic  locales.  There’s nothing groundbreaking, but it is a enjoyable journey of self-discovery, the value of fat grams, and love.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher