Wednesday, October 26, 2016

In the Light of Darkness by Radhika Maira Tabrez

"Someone I loved once gave me a box of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift."

It takes a gifted writer to be able to create an imaginary island and etch it so precisely that it appears real to her readers. Radhika Tabrez does just that as she  fleshes out an Indian paradise called Bydore and populates it with lifelike characters like Susan Pereira who is bound to Pereira Mansion and her father’s promise, Deena, a close friend and her feisty daughter Shahana, and Colonel and Mrs. Bindra, all of whose lives are blended together effortlessly. “They all could sense the chasm in each others’ hearts” and “their mutual need for succour”, a need that made them family.
It is into this family that a grievously wounded Meera is brought in, and over time, Susan turns into her anchor, touched by “the forlornness in Meera’s eyes” which made her “hear the echoes of her own life”. Their lives fuse as the pieces of a puzzle coming together, and Meera throws herself into running Susan’s book store ‘A New Chapter’, as she tries to erase the horrific shadows in her past.
Life turns around when Susan’s estranged son, Matthew, sets foot on the island due to unforeseen circumstances. He walks in through “the iron gate that had served as his first ever swing”. And this is when the reader realizes just how significant and poignant the cover of the book is, with the image of the rusty blue iron gate that serves as a symbol of the flavour of everything that Matthew’s childhood was made up of.
Radhika Tabrez’s characters live and breathe, whether it is Susan with “the most angelic smile”, Deena who is “a magician with ladles and woks”, the Colonel “a man with incisive truth” or Matthew’s steadfast friends, Vidushi and Maanav. The deft characterization makes them appear as familiar figures as they walk their way along their own paths, yet held together by a thread called Susan Pereira.
One letter, “yellowed with age, crumpled along the edges from the many hands it had exchanged in the journey to reach Matthew”, from a mother to her son, changes the tenor, as Susan describes events that had transpired twenty years ago, events that had changed their lives almost irrevocably. A bitter and unrelenting Matthew, “the ‘One’ across the sea, expects to find himself judged by his mother’s friends, but finds acceptance in many ways.
There are moments of intense pathos that dot the book, as broken souls move tentatively forward to try and find closure, even as the letter serves as a guidepost, telling Matthew how to react to every significant juncture. There is a beautiful description of how he feels “trapped in a snow globe, and everything around him has been shaken violently out of its place”.
 Radhika’s Good Samaritan instincts come across in her writing as various relationships come together in an attempt to benefit society. This novel works at various levels, as friendships turn deeper, emotions blaze their way across the tale and there could be no more profound quote for Susan’s life than the one chosen with so much care, from The Tale of Two Cities:
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
When the book has been read and savoured over a cup of cinnamon tea, the reader also heaves a sigh of contentment, having taken a leap of faith and crossed over from the dark into the light.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Smitten Husband by Sundari Venkatraman - Guest Post

Marriages Made in India
Book #1
Sundari Venkatraman

Guest Post

The Queen of Romance novels, Sundari Venkatraman, answers a question put to her by Deepti Menon.

"Dear Sundari,

It is wonderful to see so many stories fly out from your prolific pen. Where do you get your ideas from, especially for a five-novella series? How difficult is it to sustain the tempo as well as the credibility of the characters, considering that they stem from book one and live on over the next four books? Which are the characters closest to your heart, and why?"

Hi Deepti,

Firstly, let me thank you for your compliment.

When I published The Runaway Bridegroom, a few of my readers were impressed with Shikha, one of the side characters, and her relationship with Abhimanyu. They wanted to know what happened to the two. I wasn’t sure of writing a sequel as I couldn’t visualise a full-length novel for them.

Later, when I read a number of novellas from western authors, I thought I could maybe create a novella for Abhimanyu and Shikha. As I took a five-hour bus journey all by myself, it suddenly struck me that I should do a series for the characters from The Runaway Bridegroom – Chanda’s four brothers and Abhi-Shikha. That’s how the idea for a series was born. Novellas worked best as there wasn’t enough meat in the stories as they clicked away in my head to be created into full-length novels.

I also loved reading the many series of novels published by Julie Garwood (Claybornes’ Brides); Nora Roberts (The Key Trilogy; The Donovan Legacy series; Cordina’s Royal Family series) and many such books by Janet Dailey that are truly inspirational. So I thought, “why not?” and began writing the Marriages Made in India series.

Sustaining the tempo isn’t too difficult as each has a different set of characters who have their own stories to tell. Credibility – yes, there’s a bit of work there. I keep going back to my earlier books to ensure that I don’t describe someone wrong. Luckily, I don’t forget the basic characteristics. Or rather, the characters don’t let me forget their qualities. Like Ram (The Smitten Husband), is a tease. Lakshman (Her Secret Husband) is the silent one. Shikha (His Drunken Wife) is brash and loud-mouthed, loving her drinks.

Many of the characters keep coming and going from the series. But I do my best to focus on the protagonists with just a few glimpses of the others.

I must say I adore all my characters. It’s like asking which kid a mother likes best. I’m sure you know what I mean. Otherwise, I can say that I enjoyed creating Shikha since she’s a tough personality, quite badass and different from my usual characters.

Thank you for your wonderful question. You actually helped me get all my jumbling thoughts regarding this matter into a proper sequence. :D


Ram Maheshwari is a successful jewellery designer who has a huge showroom on MI Road, Jaipur. He’s tall, dark, handsome and a billionaire to boot. He’s twenty-nine and falls in with his parents’ wishes when they try to arrange his marriage.

The lovely, stormy-eyed Sapna Purohit is from Pushkar. She’s managed to finish school and makes a living by doing mehendi designs during weddings. She’s always dreamt of a Prince on a white horse, sweeping her off her feet.

One look into Sapna’s grey eyes and Ram is lost. Only, Sapna’s unable to see her Prince in Ram. Being from a poor family, she has no choice but to go along with the tide when the Maheshwaris offer to bear all expenses of the wedding. 

Does that mean that the feisty Sapna is all set to accept Ram as her husband? She puts forth a condition, after the wedding. Will The Smitten Husband agree to it?

*MARRIAGES MADE IN INDIA is a five-novella series that revolves around the characters you have met in The Runaway Bridegroom.

Read an excerpt...

“Good morning!” said a sleepy voice. “What are you doing so far away?” called out Ram, before reaching out with a long arm to pull her to him.
A startled Sapna gave him a shocked look that was lost on her husband, whose eyes were still closed. His arms went around her waist like steel bands, his breath hot against her cheek. “Sapna...” he whispered in her ear as his hard lips pressed into her petal soft cheek.
Sapna tried to pull out of his arms, only to have them pull her closer. Her breasts were flattened against his solid chest. Her traitorous body seemed to enjoy the pressure as her nipples perked up. She did her best to hold on to the control that was slipping fast.
“Ram,” she called out loudly, hoping to wake him up. She couldn’t free her arms that were trapped against her own body, as he held her in a crushing grip. His mouth was busy exploring her face, moving inexorably towards her lips. His eyes continued to remain closed, while his hands moved restlessly at her waist. “Ram...” her voice came out in a whisper, as she felt his tongue trace the edge of her lips. Tortured, she made the final move to capture his roving lips, breaking free her hands to hold his face steady.
“Sapna...” sighed Ram, kissing her gently, his tongue first tracing her upper lip and then her lower one. He gently bit the luscious curve. Sapna instinctively opened her mouth to let him explore the velvety cavern with his tongue. Shyly, her tongue reached out to mate with his, making Ram groan with need.
His hands moved restlessly on her body, her nightie bunching up. His muscular legs tangled with her slim ones, making her sigh with pleasure as his hard and hairy skin brushed against her soft and silky one. His hands cupped her lush bottom, caressing it lovingly.
Sapna suddenly became aware of his hardness pressed against her belly. Coming to her senses, she turned her face away, breaking the kiss. “No Ram.”
His wet lips continued to caress her, his tongue exploring her shell-like ear. Even as her heart thudded loudly, Sapna pushed against him. “Ram, please, will you stop it?”
His black eyes opened a slit, desire and slumber at war in them. “Sapna?” If he hadn’t been fully awake before, he was now, as he stared at her lovely face that was so close to his. He slowly recalled what had been occurring over the past few minutes. He had at first thought he was dreaming about kissing the luscious woman in his arms. How had she landed there in the first place?

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About The Author

The Smitten Husband is the eighth book authored by Sundari Venkatraman. This is a hot romance and is Book #1 of the 5-novella series titled Marriages Made in India. Other published novels by the author are The Malhotra Bride, Meghna, The Runaway Bridegroom, The Madras Affair and An Autograph for Anjali—all romances. She also has a collection of romantic short stories called Matches Made in Heaven; and a collection of human interest stories called Tales of Sunshine. All of Sundari Venkatraman’s books have been on Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers in India, USA, UK & Australia many times over.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Knitted Tales - A Collection of Emotions by Rubina Ramesh

Looking forward to reading the talented Rubina Ramesh's collection of emotions, Knitted Tales soon!

Knitted Tales: A Collection of Emotions 
Rubina Ramesh

Every tale has a path to follow to reach its destination.. but it may not exactly be the one we should follow.


What forces an innocent girl to become a sex symbol? Her desires? Or cruel fate? 

Is a lifetime enough—for avenging a betrayal? How do you hide secrets that never stopped haunting you? 

Can vengeance and secrets of your past devastate your present? How can long-buried crimes of yours suddenly raise their head? Can sinning be saving?

Is your spouse your soulmate? What if they never understood your feelings? Can you still live with them?

Lastly, does life give only two options? Live or die? What if there is a third?

In her debut anthology, Rubina Ramesh tries to find answers to these questions that are often from the heart and yet makes the mind ponder over the solution. Or is it the other way round? Either way, Knitted Tales is a bouquet of emotions that is bound to touch both your head and your heart.


Dear Friends and Aspiring Writers,

My journey as a writer started after I joined Wrimo India. It’s a group of aspiring authors where all members are challenged to write, by the NaNoWriMo ML for India region and the Founder/Admin of  Wrimo India, Sonia Rao.  Along with the other admins, Neel Ina and Dola Basu Singh, she made our lives pretty tough if we did not submit on time.

Our work was critiqued, broken to pieces and then mended again by all the Wrimo members. I laugh now, whenever I reminisce about those days. We writers are so passionate about our work that even a little bit of criticism makes us want to hide our baby. But in this group, we trained ourselves to accept all types of honest criticism. We sculpted our stories and life continued. This happened around 2 years ago.

Then, one fine day I found that I had gathered around 17 stories and forgotten all about them. As I dusted away the layers of neglect, I fell in love with my own stories. I am a narcissist. :)  But then, all writers are, aren’t they? I do hope what I have written from my heart, touches you. Here are the stories of a writer who aspires to always write from her heart. With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, here’s raising a toast to inspiration!

Releasing on 10th of October 2016
The Cover of Knitted Tales: 
a collection of emotions 
Rubina Ramesh
to your 

Proofread by Nikita Jhanglani 
Cover Designed by Sachin Venkatesh

About Rubina Ramesh

 Rubina Ramesh is an avid reader, writer, blogger, book reviewer and marketer. She is the founder of The Book Club, an online book publicity group. Her first literary work was published in her school magazine. It gave her immense pride to see her own name at the bottom of the article. She was about 8 years old at that time.  She then went to complete her MBA and after her marriage to her childhood friend, her travel saga started. From The Netherlands to the British Isles she lived her life like an adventure. After a short stint in Malaysia, she finally settled down in the desert state of USA, Arizona.  Living with her DH and two human kids and one doggie kid, Rubina has finally started living the life she had always dreamed about – that of a writer. 

Her other published works include
'Home is where Love is’ a short story in the anthology Writings from the Heart. Ed. by Beth Ann Masarik. 
‘You Stole My Heart’ and ‘Let me Go’. Short stories as a part of the anthology ‘Long and Short of It’ by Indireads.
'Wake Me Up' as a part of the anthology ‘Marijuana Diaries’ by Fablery Publishers.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

With You I Dance by Aarti V Raman

A heartwarming book about the passion of ballet and the heartache of friendship and love by Aarti V Raman, whose ease of style makes this a delight to read!

Book Tour

With You I Dance
Aarti V Raman


Meera Sagar had everything—the perfect job as a principal ballerina (for a prestigious New York ballet company) and a man who loved her as much as she loved him. But tragedy struck on the night before her biggest performance, forcing her to do the one thing she never wanted to do—come back home. To Mumbai.

Now, a year later, Meera is still trying to pick up the pieces, while fending off marriage proposals from her well-meaning but traditional Gujarati family, and figure life out all over again. By starting a ballet school in Mumbai. But she has two problems. One, she doesn’t know anything about running a business. And two, she can’t dance. Not anymore.

Enter . . .
Abeer Goswami. Hotshot junior partner at a South Bombay law firm and a man nursing a broken heart. When he meets Meera again, the woman who left him, he tries his hardest to be her friend, to help her . . . and not let the past get in the way.

And then . . .
There is the sexy Zoya Sehgal. Meera’s only friend in the city and the woman Abeer is currently seeing. They say triangles have pointy edges, for a reason. Will Meera find a new dream in her ballet school? Can Abeer and Meera find their way back to each other again? And, most important, has Meera danced for the last time?

With you I dance is a warm, funny, at times heart-rending, love story of second chances, true love, and finding yourself when your dearest dream has vanished.

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About the Author

Aarti V Raman is an established novelist in the romantic thriller genre (White Knight, Kingdom Come) with her third book, a contemporary romance titled “With You I Dance” out soon with Fingerprint Publishing.

29 years old, she graduated from Mumbai University in 2007 with a degree in Mass Media focused on Journalism, which provided her the perfect background for conducting sound research on any project. She then went on to study Creative and Professional Writing at Deakin University in Melbourne for post-graduation in 2008. It was there that she learned to hone her craft and lifelong ambition of writing romances that had strong characters and stronger stories that remained etched in the reader's minds.

While waiting for her big break, Aarti pursued commercial writing and gained a vast amount of knowledge (from fishing tackle to soft toys) that she claims have helped her with molding better stories. Her first novel "White Knight" was published by Leadstart in 2012 and gave her the impetus to continue writing. In 2013, her work was excerpted in the Tamil Edition of Mills and Boon novels. And in 2014, her short story "Post-Coital Cigarette" was chosen to be part of the Rupa Romance Anthology "An Atlas of Love" curated by bestselling author Anuja Chauhan.

Her latest novel "Kingdom Come" (Harlequin MIRA) has enjoyed a brief stay at the bestseller lists in Amazon India. Her work is represented by Red Ink Literary Agency, Delhi. And very recently, she was a speaker and panellist at the Goa Arts and Literary Fest 2014, Vth Edition.

She is currently expanding her skill set to include copy editing, content marketing, and creative writing workshop that help her explore the wonderful world of words in various forms.

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Love Bi the Way by Bhaavna Arora


 “Yes, the truth. It sets you free – but tears you apart first.”
These words could well be the pivot around which the story of Bhaavna Arora’s ‘Love Bi The Way’ hinges, the story of two modern young women, Rihana and Zara, who live in a house aptly named ‘Cupid’ in Delhi’s Greater Kailash, along with their adorable Labrador, Tiger. The two could not be more dissimilar. While Rihana is a talented artist, with strong views on marriage, sex and relationships, the gentle Zara, a businesswoman, suffers from a major depressive disorder.
Rihana’s irreverence and her apparent promiscuousness hide scars that have deeply marred her psyche. The refined Zara too has secrets in her past that have triggered off her health problems. “Both of them were two very different people. “ Yet, Rihana’s “happiness was so infectious that Zara thought she could find a true companion in her.” Zara is the yin to Rihana’s yang, both heiresses in their own right. Zara has inherited her father’s business after the breakdown of her marriage, while Rihana is the protégé of the renowned artist, Habib Ansari, and turns into the sole benefactor of his lineage and estate after he succumbs to cancer.
Despite the insouciance of the often frothy and risqué dialogues, a strain of darkness runs through the novel. There are episodes that threaten the frailty of the two women at times, and as Rihana puts it, “repressed memories are more dangerous than a snake in your bed... a very venomous snake”.  While Rihana resorts to alcohol and wild sexual escapades for her release and throws people off balance with her startling comments, Zara finds solace in her work, striving for financial independence, as well as inner motivation.
The Maharani of Jodhpur, a client of Rihana’s art, auctions the latter’s painting for a stupendous sum of money that goes towards a charitable hospital for cancer patients. Zara has a short encounter with her handsome son, Prince Shaurya, at the end of which she comes to terms with what she needs to do in life to free herself from the shackles of her past. Rihana goes through a particularly rough patch, as a number of events conspire to make her particularly vulnerable, and she confides in Zara. The two comfort each other, “both equally vulnerable - one for having bared her soul , the other for having had a glimpse of the other’s love for her”. It is now that the significance of the title dawns on the reader.
Bhaavna Arora comes across as a modern, no-nonsense writer, but there are instances when her language reveals a mellowness all its own.
“She would have preferred to be a drop in the ocean and free rather than be caged in a bottle of wine like a pearl in its shell.”
At other times, the characters display a robust common sense, as when their beleaguered maidservant, Nandini, confesses, “When the wounds heal, memory fades.” Or when Rihana says ironically, “Thieves follow principles more than saints.” Some truths are spoken with underlying humour, as when Rihana retorts, “There is a dearth of both good men and parking spots in India. Both bloody close to extinction.”
The novel ends on a note of hope as both Rihana and Zara confront their fears and insecurities, even as the letting go of hate and guilt set them both free.


  ‘Tales that Entail’ by Jaseena Backer is an anthology of stories that are hard-hitting and realistic. Right from the first story, the auth...