Bantwal tells an engaging story
about Indian culture. Waffling bet-
ween a romance and a soft thriller,
it might have been better served
had the author delved a bit more
into the intrigue of the heroine's
fight to stay alive, and perhaps
peppered the story with a few
more surprises. The romance is
strong, but the heroine gets very
comfortable in her new living
situation, and some of the fantastic urgency created in the opening
chapters is lost. The mother-in-law
character is particularly well drawn.

One night Megha awakens and overhears her husband and mother-in-law plotting to burn her alive. Angry that Megha's father has not yet paid her dowry, and that Megha hasn't gotten pregnant, Amma insists that her son become a widower and not carry the stigma of a divorce. Scared for her life, and aware that the law most likely will not believe what she's heard, Megha runs off, escaping to Kiran, her husband's cousin. Kiran, who's loved Megha from the moment he saw her, is outraged by his aunt's plan and goes out of his way to help Megha. In the meantime, they develop a rich relationship that defies all the rules. (Kensington, Sep., 352 pp., $14.00)
Reviewed by: 
Lauren Spielberg