For a country that still hasn’t shaken the dubious honor of birthing the ubiquitous guide to all things naughty, the Kama Sutra, India hasn’t gotten a whole lot of love in the romance novel world. Fortunately for readers and authors alike, that seems to be changing! You can find English-language Indian contemporary romance, erotic romance and, yes, even category romance!
The first Harlequin/Mills & Boon romance by an Indian author and featuring all-Indian characters was The Love Asana, by Milan Vohra, released in December of 2010. A little under two years later, Shoma Narayanan is the first to take a “desi” romance from Mills & Boon to global release! Monsoon Wedding Fever, which came out in the UK in August, hits American shelves as a Harlequin Romance this month. I, for one, can’t wait to get my hot little hands on this book! And I’m not the only one saying “Shabbash!” (that’s “Way to go!” in Hindi) — RT’s Jaime A. Geraldi gave Monsoon Wedding Fever four stars in our November issue, calling it a “refreshing and new, swift read.”
Monsoon Wedding Fever is the story of former college lovebirds Riya and Dhruv, who find themselves literally on top of one another when Dhruv comes to town for his cousin’s wedding and avails himself of his cousin’s floor for the night. A stumble in the dark notwithstanding, Riya isn’t exactly ready to trip the light fantastic with him — or is she? With the festive atmosphere of cousin Gaurav’s wedding in the air, and Dhruv’s own quest for an arranged marriage looming, will the rainy season drown out those pesky old feelings … or cause new love to bloom?
I love the cover for this, because it’s the typical Harlequin category set-up, but with a South Asian flair. Dhruv’s looking sharp in his suit and tie, but it’s Riya who really makes the image, with her rose pink lehenga-choli. Different from a sari, which is one continuous piece of cloth, a lehenga-choli is three pieces: a short, bare-midriff blouse, a heavy skirt with ornate beadwork and a scarf, or “dupatta.” It’s very much standard wedding guest wear, so just looking at Riya’s outfit, her up-do and her makeup tells you that she and Dhruv are getting their party on, Indian-style. The confetti? Well, that’s pretty much what I want to throw in the air as a reader. I can’t tell you how excited I would be just to see this on a bookshelf: an Indian hero and heroine, plain as day. Where was this book when I was 15 and desperate to see a reflection of myself in my romances? Ah, well, I have it now — and so do my romance lovin’ sisters out there, whether you’re South Asian or not.
So, come October 30, pop in your favorite Bollywood soundtrack, pour yourself some chai and catch Monsoon Wedding Fever!