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If You Like…Romances Set in South Asia or featuring South Asian...

Dear Author guest post by Kim T.

A few years ago, I watched a Hindi language, historical epic film called Jodhaa Akbar, starring Bollywood superstars Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.  As a librarian with a graduate degree in European history, I was intrigued by the 16th century historical detail in the film.  And I completely swooned over the beauty and charisma of the lead actors.  Being a film geek, I began to explore the Bollywood film genre.  I was, admittedly, drawn first to the beautiful costumes and song picturizations, but I soon found myself just as interested in the cultures of India.  I began to read non-fiction on modern India and watch Indian films (in Hindi and other regional languages) that went beyond the typical Bollywood masala formula.  Still, my favorite Indian films (and the ones I watch over and over) will always be Bollywood romances.  As a lifelong romance reader, I think this makes perfect sense.  There’s nothing as wonderful or satisfying as a delightful, fluffy romantic comedy or an angst-ridden, passionate romantic drama whether in print or on the screen.

My reading interests have paralleled my interests in Indian films and I’ve read several non-fiction titles on India and literary fiction by South Asian authors.  However, I’ve had to be very creative in locating mainstream romances with South Asian settings and/or South Asian characters, especially contemporary titles.  I’ve also received many recommendations from members of the romance reading community.  The following are titles that I’ve enjoyed with a strong romantic element and they represent a variety of genres including chick-lit, historical fiction, literary fiction, and traditional romances (category, paranormal, historical, etc.).

The Zoya Factor by Anjua ChauhanThe Zoya Factor
by Anjua Chauhan

Published by Harper Collins in India, this is the sweet and hilarious story of an advertising executive who becomes the “lucky charm” for India’s cricket team during the ICC World Cup.  She finds romance with the captain of the team.  There are several untranslated Hindi phrases in this book and some very specific cultural references that will be lost to most Western readers, but I still highly recommend it, especially if you’re interested in how an Indian author takes on the chick-lit format.  I also enjoyed Advaita Kala’s Almost Single, another chick-lit title by an Indian author, reviewed here at DA.

AmazonBook Depository

 


Saris and the City by Rekha WaheedSaris and the City by Rekha Waheed

This Little Black Dress UK title written by a British author of Bangladeshi descent is a traditional chick lit story of a career-minded woman dealing with her conservative Bengali family’s demands and her attraction to the typical rich and gorgeous hero.

AmazonBook Depository


The Twentieth Wife by Indu SundaresanThe Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan

In this first in a historical trilogy about Mughal India, the love story of protagonist Mehrunnisa and Prince Salim is a blend of historical fact and romantic fiction.  This book piqued my interest in historical romance written by Indian authors and I recently stumbled upon a series of historical romances called Kama Kahani published by Random House India and written by Indian authors. The series, including titles like Kiran Kohl’s Passion in the Punjab, can be found through Amazon.co.uk.  They have beautiful covers and I particularly love the series’ taglines printed above the back cover blurb: “Are you a spirited beauty, your fire contained – buy only just – by the clinging brocade of your lehnga’s choli? A delicious Kama Kahani is sure to strike your fancy.”

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The Stolen Bride by Abby GreenThe Stolen Bride by Abby Green

Several years ago, Mills & Boon began to increase their presence in India and to search for promising Indian authors for their lines.  To date, two Mills & Boon titles by Indian authors have been published but they’re hard to find outside of India.  So, in the meantime, we’ve had some other interesting developments in the M&B/Harlequin Presents line, such as the late Penny Jordan’s 2008 title featuring an Indian hero and several more titles by other authors featuring characters of South Asian descent.  As a sometimes reader of the Presents line, I have enjoyed Abby Green’s The Stolen Bride and its Bollywood actress heroine and cringed at other lazier titles that simply shift the overplayed “sheikh romance” formula to the Indian setting.  I’ve also been inspired to collect vintage Harlequins and other category titles that are set in India (I’ve only found a couple that actually feature heroes or heroines of South Asian descent).  A pleasant older Harlequin Presents title set in India is Jayne Bauling’s Sophisticated Seduction (#25), published in 1996.

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The Mango Season by Amulya MalladiThe Mango Season by Amulya Malladi

In this literary fiction title, Indian born-Denmark based author Malladi writes a moving depiction of a young Indian woman’s struggles with her parents’ demand for an arranged marriage and her love of an American man.

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Finally, the following titles, which have been recommended here and elsewhere numerous times, should also be mentioned:

The Duke of Shadows by Meredith DuranThe Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Historical romance partially set in India, with Anglo-Indian hero.

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Not Quite a HusbandNot Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

The 1890s northern Indian setting of this much-praised historical is superbly drawn.

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demon moon by meljean brookDemon Moon by Meljean Brook

A paranormal with a heroine of Indian descent, this is one of many examples of the culturally diverse heroes and heroines that have become happily commonplace in paranormals over the last several years.

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Sexy as Hell by Susan Johnson  Sexy as Hell by Susan Johnson

The Bruxton Street Bookstore series has been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.  This title features Osmond, Baron Lennox, a hero of Anglo-Indian descent who grew up in Hyderabad and now owns India’s largest bank.  Johnson excels at interesting and unusual historical detail, but it’s often overshadowed by her steamy content.

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These are just a few titles that have stood out for one reason or another in my search for romance with a South Asian flair.  I hope that these recommendations will lead to even more recommendations from other Dear Author readers.  Happy reading!

If you would like to submit an “If You Like” of any book, author or topic, please don’t hesitate to email jane at dearauthor.com. You only need about 6-8 titles for the post.

Guest Reviewer

53 Comments

  1. Meredith
    May 21, 2012 @ 10:30:28

    I recall absolutely adoring a historical novel called Olivia and Jai, by Rebecca Ryman (a pen name for Asha Bhanjdeo). The hero, Jai Raventhorne (heh), is of mixed European and Indian descent.

    The Far Pavilions, by M.M. Kaye, is a wonderfully absorbing novel, although having recently reread it, I believe you could launch a pretty powerful postcolonial critique against the depiction of the heroine, Anjali, a Rajput princess whose grandmother was Russian.

    My favorite by Kaye is in fact The Shadow of the Moon, set largely during the 1857 Uprising. Both of the protagonists are English, so it doesn’t quite fit here, but it’s a riveting story.

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  2. Barb in Maryland
    May 21, 2012 @ 10:40:19

    A nice contemporary series with romance elements is Farahad Zama’s ‘Marriage Bureau’ series. The first The Marriage Bureau for Rich People should be quite easy to find in the US, the 2nd and 3rd titles are used only at this point and the 4th title just came out. Set in south-east India, on the coast. I have found them to be interesting and enjoyable. The first one is the most light-hearted.

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  3. Suleikha Snyder
    May 21, 2012 @ 10:45:48

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Jonathan Fast’s Golden Fire, which is sexy, political-intrigue-y historical fiction about the silk trade and Prince Chandragupta II. There are some great supporting characters, and I always go back to it every few years when I want to visit ancient India.

    And I highly recommend getting into Bollywood films! They’re great lessons in how to draw out tension and do everything but get your hero and heroine into bed…not to mention incredibly entertaining!

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  4. Jayne
    May 21, 2012 @ 10:51:27

    I enjoyed “Blood Moon Over Bengal” by Morag McKendrick Pippin. It’s been out a few years now and is about 1930s India. “Death in the Andamans” by MM Kaye is another good period mystery/romance.

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  5. Jayne
    May 21, 2012 @ 11:00:10

    I just remembered one much older book originally published by the Harlequin Masquerade line called “Fountains of Paradise” by Lee Stafford set during the British Raj (1856).

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  6. Karenmc
    May 21, 2012 @ 11:21:40

    @Meredith: Meredith is so right about Shadow of the Moon; it’s a long, splendid, heart-wrenching book. I also have Zemindar by Valerie Fitzgerald sitting in my TBR pile, which also has European protagonists, set during the British Raj.

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  7. Liz C
    May 21, 2012 @ 11:25:21

    @Barb in Maryland:
    A hearty endorsement for Barb’s recommendation of the “Marriage Bureau” series. The characters, relationships, settings, and storylines are fantastic.

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  8. willaful
    May 21, 2012 @ 11:30:54

    Kim, if you haven’t, you must see “Sita Sings the Blues.” It’s more of an anti-romance, but utterly gorgeous. You can find it on the Internet, but if you have Roku I highly recommend the larger screen experience.

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  9. Barb in Maryland
    May 21, 2012 @ 11:35:04

    @Meredith–I’m another one who loves “Shadow of the Moon”. Well, actually, I love all things MMKaye. (Her 3 vol memoirs are wonderful, especially the first vol “The Sun in the Morning” which is about growing up in pre-WWI India).
    @Jayne–MM Kaye also did “Death in Kashmir”–my favorite of her romantic mysteries.

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  10. Jayne
    May 21, 2012 @ 11:39:13

    @willaful: God, I love that movie. I reviewed it here a year or so ago and just updated the tags to include “India” – something I should have done when I wrote about it.

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  11. Jayne
    May 21, 2012 @ 11:58:06

    “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” is a lovely book with an older Pakistani heroine that is set in England. http://dearauthor.com/ebooks/review-major-pettigrews-last-stand-by-helen-simonson/

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  12. Sunita
    May 21, 2012 @ 12:18:03

    Kim, thanks so much for this post! It’s great to read your suggestions, and I really hope other readers will follow your lead.

    I would definitely put Lagaan on the list if you recommended Jodhaa Akbar. It is the colonial-era equivalent in some ways. For a movie about South Asians in the US, I still love and recommend Mississippi Masala. Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury as the romantic leads, and the legendary, beautiful, and utterly fabulous Sharmila Tagore as the mother.

    For lit fic, I always recommend Bharati Mukherjee, from whom many expat South Asian writers are descended in a literary sense, whether they know it or not. I started with The Middleman and Other Stories. For a more lighthearted take, Bapsi Sidhwa’s novels are enjoyable reads.

    For historical fiction, I’m kind of stumped. It really depends on what you’re reading for. I definitely second the recs of the Duran and Thomas books, but I’ve never been able to get through an MM Kaye, so go figure. My absolute favorite sweeping historical series is Paul Scott’s Jewel in the Crown (4 books in all). Some of you may remember the British miniseries of the 1980s. That was awesome; the books are even better. Romance, history, rebellion, intercultural relationships, you name it. It’s not HEA, but some of the relationships are painfully romantic.

    Jayne’s review of Sita Sings the Blues is fantastic, as is the movie. EVERYONE should see that movie. It’s indescribably good.

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  13. Sunita
    May 21, 2012 @ 12:22:38

    Penguin/Putnam, I hate you with the heat of 1000 suns and can only hope karma does what I cannot.

    The first Marriage Bureau book at Amazon US: $6 paper, $9.98 hardover, $12.99 Kindle.

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  14. cleo
    May 21, 2012 @ 12:31:27

    Veiled Seduction by Alisha Rai has an Iranian American hero and Pakistani American heroine – it’s short (150 ish pages) but is a fun friends to lovers story. It’s part of her Veiled series (the first one has an Iranian American heroine and white American hero).

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  15. Sunita
    May 21, 2012 @ 13:36:49

    @cleo: Seconding this rec, as well as the previous shortish Veiled story (older woman, younger man, friends to neighbors, intercultural). Rai has great characters.

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  16. Janine
    May 21, 2012 @ 14:08:47

    @Jayne: I was pretty meh on Blood Moon Over Bengal, it was atmospheric but the characterization was shallow and the prose wasn’t very good. There was a murder mystery subplot and I just didn’t care if most of the side characters lived or died.

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  17. trojanwalls
    May 21, 2012 @ 14:38:30

    I had no idea so many romances with South Asian characters had been published in the contemporary market. I suppose I gave up searching too easily. I did enjoy reading Zoya Factor (if only for the novelty of holding an Indian written chick-lit) but I wouldn’t re-read it. I haven’t yet tried the rest.
    Thanks Kim T. for starting this discussion and everyone else for the recommendations.

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  18. Rosario
    May 21, 2012 @ 16:25:58

    One of my favourite romances last year was Love, Unexpectedly, by Susan Fox, which has an Indo-Canadian hero. It’s an amazing book -it all takes place on a long train journey, and the hero and heroine actually talk to each other!

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  19. Emily
    May 21, 2012 @ 16:31:26

    Does Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne count? It’s been a while since I read it, but I really enjoyed it.

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  20. Janine
    May 21, 2012 @ 17:06:52

    Has anyone read Tea and Spices by Nina Lane (Natasha Rostova)? It’s an erotic novel set in colonial India that was recommended to me once and I’m curious what readers think of it. I have not read it yet myself.

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  21. Susan
    May 21, 2012 @ 17:15:48

    I check periodically to see if Ryman and Kaye’s books will ever be released on Kindle. No luck so far. (I have Kaye’s books in paper form, but don’t want to have to dig them out of storage for a re-read.)

    I second (third?) the recommendation of Valerie Fitzgerald’s Zemindar. I got my book thru a book club (Literary Guild?) eons ago, and it has been read/re-read more times than I can count.

    There’s less history in the Duran and Thomas books, but they’re two of my favorites for the stories.

    Thanks for all the other recommendations–I’m checking them out!

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  22. Kelly
    May 21, 2012 @ 18:20:07

    @Suleikha Snyder:

    If you won’t pimp your own book I will…. I *loved* Suleikha’s “Spice and Smoke” – I’ve been pushing it on everyone because I’m dying to know what others think! Angsty Bollywood soap opera with fabulous writing and characters.

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  23. Kim T.
    May 21, 2012 @ 18:45:37

    Thank you for all of the recommendations everyone! If I could only pick one from my list to recommend the most, it might be Rekha Waheed’s Saris in the City. It really worked for me.

    I have Kaye and Ryman on my TBR pile and I’m very intrigued by the “Raj romance” genre. I found a very interesting older article about it by Salman Rushdie recently.

    Just ordered Golden Fire and Fountains of Paradise on PBS! Thanks!

    Sunita, I really loved Bharati Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters and I’m going to read The Tree Bride next. Also liked Thrity Umrigar’s The World We Found which kind of has a similar feel to Desirable Daughters. Definitely two of the best authors in South Asian literary fiction.

    I couldn’t finish the first in the Marriage Bureau books. I thought the main character and his wife were charming, but I couldn’t get into the plotting at all. Also couldn’t get into Fox’s Love Unexpectedly or the erotic romance mentioned, Tea and Spices. But sometimes I go through stages in my reading, where I know what kind of settings or characters I want to read about and I get disappointed if books don’t line up with what I’m in the mood for…seems kind of selfish, I know:) Others may (and do) feel differently about these titles.

    Loved Sita Sings the Blues (and the creator’s open access philosophy). The way she combines the Sita/Ram story with her own personal narrative was ingenious.

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  24. Suleikha Snyder
    May 21, 2012 @ 18:55:49

    @Janine: Looking at the Lane book on Amazon, I was intrigued, but the description of Rohan as “dark” and “sultry” made me want to run off screaming. So, if someone does read it, I’d love to hear what their thoughts are!

    @Kelly: HA. Yeah, I’m hopeless at pimping. Instead, I constantly hope people will stumble upon Spice and Smoke like a tree root in their path. Thank you! It means a lot that you’ve enjoyed it so much!

    Another book I’d recommend is Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. The film version, starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott, is pretty dreadful, but the book is lyrical and beautiful and quite a good tale!

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  25. Kim T.
    May 21, 2012 @ 18:58:18

    I just bought Suleikha’s book, too…just haven’t got around to reading it yet.

    Another interesting title is Justine Elyiot’s Bollywood Superstar (e-novella) which I thought had its moments, but I couldn’t whole heartedly recommend it. Couldn’t decide what I thought about the non-Indian woman pretending to be Indian to get into Bollywood. I’m ambivalent about it in “reel life” too. I liked Amy Jackson in the Telugu film Madraspattinam, but in general I’m not a fan of this development in Hindi films. Just seems so silly since there are so many great South Asian actresses that can do these roles. And don’t get me started on American model turned Bollywood actress Nargis Fakhri (who admittedly is of Pakistani descent and is gorgeous). She almost ruined Rockstar for me, but that was really Ranbir Kapoor’s movie (and all about the stunning AR Rahman’s music, too).

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  26. Maya M.
    May 21, 2012 @ 18:58:34

    great post, DA!

    I’ll add two titles to the mix:

    “The Sandalwood Princess”, Loretta Chase (historical romance). I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    “A Suitable Boy”, Vikram Seth (literary fiction). I adore this novel (minus some of the more political bits; I skipped some of those paragraphs with no detriment to overall understanding of the story). The protagonist is a young Indian woman who must choose between three suitors (i.e., the titular suitable boy, as hoped for by her mother).

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  27. Kim T.
    May 21, 2012 @ 19:06:35

    Oops, a couple of corrections (writing too fast). Madrasapattinam is a *Tamil* film starring Amy Jackson and Arya (and she does play a white character in the film, but she also getting roles playing Anglo-Indians as well.)

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  28. Sherry Thomas
    May 21, 2012 @ 20:37:40

    Jodhaa Akbar, sigh. God they are so beautiful together, Roshan and Rai.

    And also, folks, check out BOLLYWOOD BECOMES HER by Meredith McGuire, which was a sensational bestseller in India.

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  29. Nalini Singh
    May 21, 2012 @ 23:11:26

    I love Jodhaa Akbar too. It’s just so visually rich, and the story of course is a classic sigh-inducing romance. It’s quite often my gateway movie when I introduce people to Bollywood.

    An author I haven’t seen mentioned in the comments is Anjali Banerjee. Both Imaginary Men and Invisible Lives are great books.

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  30. trojanwalls
    May 22, 2012 @ 01:24:51

    You know what’s utterly fascinating? That I have to come here to find recommendations for good Indian romances (contemporary or historical). The romance sections in all the stores (chain or indie) in my city mostly stock non-Indian romances from millsandboon, Harlequin et al. I’m not complaining about them, I love them but till I read this post I honestly thought we simply didn’t have writers creating stories in this genre with Indian/mixed race heroes and heroines.
    Thanks again everyone.

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  31. Jayne
    May 22, 2012 @ 03:16:57

    Several years ago, Mills & Boon began to increase their presence in India and to search for promising Indian authors for their lines. To date, two Mills & Boon titles by Indian authors have been published but they’re hard to find outside of India.

    Kim, do you have any author names or titles for these? Does anyone know if M&B has any plans for wider distribution of them?

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  32. Sally
    May 22, 2012 @ 03:27:15

    @Jayne:
    I’ve only heard about The Love Asana by Milan Vohra.

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  33. SonomaLass
    May 22, 2012 @ 03:33:37

    I love MM Kaye. Far Pavilions is an epic read (okay, heroine named Juli [Anjuli] is a big draw for me), and Shadow of the Moon is also wonderful. My partner’s mother was born in India and spent her early childhood there, as her father was in the English government there. Such a troubling and interesting story!

    I also loved Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. I want to re-read it, just seeing Jayne mention it! And Meredith Duran’s and Sherry Thomas’ books are fabulous.

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  34. Sally
    May 22, 2012 @ 03:37:36

    @Jayne:
    Okay, the second title is His Monsoon Bride by Astha Atray. Seriously, if these books ever reach stateside, I’d buy it! *hint hint at Harlequin*

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  35. Ros
    May 22, 2012 @ 06:53:44

    @Sunita: I was going to suggest the Jewel in the Crown, but it’s totally not genre romance. There was a fabulous radio production of it on the BBC a few years ago which is really worth seeking out.

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  36. Nicolette
    May 22, 2012 @ 08:04:23

    I’ll second the recommendation for Vikram Seth’s “A Suitable Boy”. In fact, even if nobody else had mentioned it, I was about to. But it is literary fiction, not romantic fiction, and ends with a CFN (Content for now) rather than a HEA.

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  37. Kim T.
    May 22, 2012 @ 08:12:10

    trojanwalls, where are you in India? It does sound like the romance market there is still dominated by Western authors, but hopefully the Mills & Boon changes will help. Besides Mills & Boon titles, what other non-Indian romances and authors seem popular where you are? Just curious. And have you seen the Kama Kahani historical series on the shelves there?

    Many of you might have seen this blog post about them at Teach Me Tonight. http://teachmetonight.blogspot.com/2010/02/links-india-covers-and-romance.html
    I’ve bought the first and possibly the only five in the series, but haven’t read one yet.

    Jayne, the two M&B India titles (and I think that’s it so far) are the two mentioned above: the Love Asana and His Monsoon Bride. The third version of their writing contest is happening now and I think several authors tied for the win, so I’m hoping even more titles soon. I tried ordering them through amazon.co.uk, but the order was cancelled. I just can’t bring myself to spend over $15 with shipping and handling to order them from India. If anyone has any recommendations on good Indian bookstores online that ship to the US, let me know.

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  38. trojanwalls
    May 22, 2012 @ 09:39:47

    Kim T.
    I live in Calcutta/Kolkata but my experience has been the same in Delhi and Mumbai as well.
    I did notice Kama Kahini’s three releases on the shelves, actually (the covers are almost exactly the same with only regional differences in attire – but I like that they used sketches instead of models). I flipped through them and they were surprisingly decent. I had low expectations after checking out M&B’s ‘Love Asana’, which is cringe-worthy unless you’re in sixth grade and just discovered the thrill of reading romance novels under your school desk.
    I haven’t tried His Monsoon bride yet and this year there were three winners of the Passions III contest. Their books should be out next year.
    Two good sites that deliver books outside the country are flipkart and infibeam. Both quote low prices and ship the books in record time. I love flipkart especially, though infibeam has better prices.
    One thing about the Kama Kahini titles – I haven’t read all three, but they are all historicals based in the 18th and 19th c. and in different parts of the country [ ‘Jodhaa-Akbar’ Rajasthan, Parineeta-era Bengal, White Mughal Lucknow and Ranjit Singh’s Punjab - to quote Random House] and so, (I hope) reflect the cultural diversity.
    The excerpts certainly seemed promising. I had really been hoping for some Indian historical romances, so I’m thankful that Random House obliged.
    This is a blog post from Random Reads by one of the editors of these books. http://randomhouseindia.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/how-to-write-the-perfect-love-story-in-four-easy-steps/

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  39. Sunita
    May 22, 2012 @ 12:03:07

    I read Love Asana last year after picking it up in either the Mumbai or Delhi airport. I liked it better than trojanwalls did, but I agree it wasn’t great. I read some descriptions and reviews of the Kama Kahanis and thought they sounded kind of LOLworthy (worse prose than M&B with bad historical context) but I’m on the verge of ordering one from Amazon. At $10, though, I’ve yet to pull the trigger.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Indian-set and written romances aren’t working that well in India, though. While there are undoubtedly people who want to read them, I think that a lot of readers like M&B and other Western romances precisely for the fantasy element (the way US readers like Regency and European-set historicals). Once you locate the books in familiar territory, they’re a different reading experience.

    @Ros: I remember reading about that radioplay. It sounds fun, but it’s such a huge time commitment and I don’t listen to audiobooks much. I might give it a go, though, just to see what it’s like. I do like BBC radioplays as a rule.

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  40. trojanwalls
    May 22, 2012 @ 13:27:04

    @Sunita I’ll give you that the setting of the Kama Kahiini books are stock and the way back-covers introduce the stories…

    To quote — Was the first man you fell for a brooding desert prince? Or better still, a cruelly handsome feudal lord? Are you a spirited beauty, your fire contained—but only just—by the clinging brocade of your lehenga’s choli? A delicious Kama Kahani is sure to strike your fancy.

    So, yeah, they sound clichéd and funny, but hey – early days. I’ve only read one of them and the period/cultural settings are given the same amount of importance that they receive in Indian Soaps and big-budget movies on similar story lines. Gorgeous picturization and not much else.

    I do suggest you buy them off the Random House India site (not sure if they deliver overseas). http://www.randomhouse.co.in/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=WFHZrUIry3I%3d
    They’re charging $2 to $3 each book. The ebook versions are prohibitively costly, which is just plain unfair.

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  41. Janine
    May 22, 2012 @ 14:51:59

    @Suleikha Snyder: I agree with you re. the scary blurb. It was the reviews on the Nina Roy pseudonym cross-listing of the book, here, and the recommendation I got from a friend that made me wonder if the book could be more thoughtful than the blurb makes it sound. But not having read it, I really don’t know.

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  42. Suleikha
    May 22, 2012 @ 15:23:39

    @Janine: The reviews are pretty glowing, aren’t they? That’s definitely encouraging. But then I added this — “Revolt is seething in the loins of the colonial settlement at Uttar Pradesh” — to my “dark, sultry” scare. If revolt is seething in your loins, you may want to curtail any ideas for a revolution and visit a physician instead! LOL!

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  43. Sunita
    May 22, 2012 @ 17:21:19

    @Janine: @Suleikha: The book is $1.99 for Kindle and Nook under the name Nina Lane. I read the sample. It’s clearly an erotic novel (I don’t know if it has an HEA/HFN so I won’t call it a romance) and it seems to fall within the category of “English woman comes to India and discovers herself,” in this case sexually. The writing is good and the sex scenes (there are two explicit and one implicit in the Kindle sample) include one f/f and two m/f. It feels kind of old-fashioned in its eroticism, in both good and bad ways. Good: there’s an actual story, the prose is competent, and the characters may have some depth. Bad: India as exotic land where white people can let loose sexually and learn from the less repressed natives.

    One of my problems with early late-empire colonial novels is that they all seem to be channeling White Mischief. On the other hand, I do research in the period so if they’re not wallbangers they’re usually guilty pleasures.

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  44. Jayne
    May 22, 2012 @ 17:58:00

    @trojanwalls: @Sunita: So…I’m getting the idea that skipping “Love Asana” is a good choice. Perhaps we should wait for the winners of the latest contest to be published.

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  45. Suleikha Snyder
    May 22, 2012 @ 19:00:34

    @Sunita: Thanks for the rundown!

    This is what I’m always wary of: India as exotic land where white people can let loose sexually and learn from the less repressed natives. Probably because I’ve never met a “less repressed” Indian in my life! I come from a whole line of folks who are of the “What erotic cave paintings? What Kama Sutra?” school of thought. Heck, my mother let me live in blissful ignorance about what a Shiva lingham actually represents until I was in my late teens and the light bulb went on. (SUCH an awkward but hilarious conversation.)

    I think I’m going to go download the sample and check it out! I love this post, and the comments, for adding so much to my TBR list.

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  46. Sunita
    May 22, 2012 @ 19:22:21

    @Suleikha Snyder: Oh my goodness, YES. No one talked about sex in my Indian family until it was absolutely necessary, and even then it was, as you say, awkward. I didn’t know about the Khajuraho temples until well into my teens, and my aunt had this very intellectual and aesthetic explanation for the subject matter. It’s not that sex is sinful or taboo, far from it. It’s just not talked about.

    I agree, this is a great thread. Thanks again to Kim for the post!

    And Jayne, I agree we should wait for the next round of M&B winners. I’m supposed to have the second book waiting for me in Mumbai, but I won’t get there for a while, and my cousins inevitably will forget to send it to me before that (yes it runs in the family).

    ReplyReply

  47. Janine
    May 22, 2012 @ 21:12:48

    @Suleikha & @Sunita: I’m a little apprehensive about reading it now, given Sunita’s description of the sample. But if either of you does end up reading it, please keep me posted.

    ReplyReply

  48. trojanwalls
    May 23, 2012 @ 02:27:51

    @Jayne:
    M&B put up the three winning short stories on their Indian website. I’m guessing the full length novels to be published next year will just be expansions on the theme.
    –>http://www.millsandboonindia.com/passion3_winners.php

    ReplyReply

  49. Jasveen Sahota
    May 24, 2012 @ 12:31:32

    @Kim T.:

    Besides Mills & Boon titles, what other non-Indian romances and authors seem popular where you are? Just curious.
    I live in Chandigarh, North India near Delhi, and Mills and Boon titles are still one of the most popular reads here, though other romances are also becoming popular. The most popular authors I have seen in book stores are: Nora Roberts, J.R Wards, Stephenie Meyer (the Twilight series is very popular) and most recently I have seen the first of the Fifty Shade series.

    As for the popularity of romances written by Indians in Indian setting, I don’t think they will ever be very popular, as Sunita rightly pointed out

    Once you locate the books in familiar territory, they’re a different reading experience.

    I for one will never read a M&B romance written by an Indian writer, I’ll never be able to get into it, I’ll keep comparing it to other M&Bs , or analyse the writing or the characters and situations etc. It is different for a book like The Zoya Factor, which was not a typical romance book, and its story is very close to how things actually are in India and the characters are also typically Indian (or I should say Punjabi), there is just one kiss in that book (IIRC) and no sex either implicit or explicit. That works for me, I do not want to read about Indians having sex (no, no, no).
    ReplyReply

  50. trojanwalls
    May 24, 2012 @ 13:22:39

    @Jasveen Sahota:
    At the moment the Indian authors of M&B and other similar romance novels by Indian publications are aping the ‘done’ way of writing these things. It’ll take them time to grow into their own skills. New ideas come only after you’ve grasped the fundamentals of all available tropes.
    After Chetan Bhagat’s books (all romances mixed with angty, young people struggling with college, jobs and society in India), a rash of short novels came out from never-heard-before publications by Indian authors inspired by his style of writing. Since then I’ve read a lot of books that rather remind me of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and its ilk.
    I’m trying to suggest here is that this is a new phenomena in this country and will take a while to stand on its own.
    Till then we can wait and patiently sort through them to find the few books that are definitely readable. =)

    ReplyReply

  51. Jasveen Sahota
    May 25, 2012 @ 02:27:46

    @trojanwalls: I agree with what you’re saying, and this is exactly what I meant when said I would read something like The Zoya Factor and not an M&B style book written by an India author with Indian characters. If I want to read about people talking and acting like foreign characters than I much rather read a book set in the western world.

    ReplyReply

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