REVIEW: Second Chance Under the Stars by Tara Pammi
Devi Kolleru is about to say goodbye to her oldest friend, Kiran, but something has changed and now it feels impossible. Could this Diwali be the right time for these friends to become lovers under the stars?
Dear Ms. Pammi,
I’m catching up on some holiday fiction I didn’t realize was out there. Readers looking for a short but sweet “friends to lovers” story that includes a bit about Diwali need to check this one out.
Devi Kolleru was helping her “friend since forever” Kiran Reddy pack up his life after his divorce. On her last night in NYC, he gives her a little gift to thank her for dropping everything to come and help him. It’s not the little jewelry box she’s always dreamed of getting from him but his choice shows that he knows her well and ends up leading to a scorching kiss that upends Kiran’s view of someone he’s always seen as his best friend. Now that his eyes are open, can he prove to her – and the Aunties back in Houston – that she’s the most important thing in his life?
Yes, this is short but given that these two are in their early forties and have known each other for decades, I didn’t want to wait for them to have a long courtship. Kiran now knows who he wants and he goes after Devi with focused precision. He’s also realized that the quiet life in Houston that he’d wanted to escape as a young man is “home” and where he wants to be. Proving his determination, he volunteers to help with the Diwali Mela that Devi has helped organize for years and which is loaded with Aunties who watch them with delight.
I enjoyed the little touches that center the story on the Indian American characters. Non English words are used but, thankfully, not immediately translated. There’s the Internet for that, if needed. Telugu music plays in the background at times and Devi apparently also enjoys Telugu movies. She mentions to Kiran how, at times, she compares her life working for a senior citizen center to the more glamorous ones of her two sisters (working in law and medicine) and she’s also got student loans to still pay off. Booyah for Kiran that he doesn’t offer to pay those off for her – she’s refused her father’s offers already – but volunteers his investment expertise instead.
When he does work up the courage to pop the question, he does so with his whole heart and willing to do whatever Devi wants whether that’s marriage or scandalizing the parents and Aunties by living together. And he times it very well, too, with Diwali firecrackers backing him up. I wish there had been a bit more shown of the Mela but the story felt easy, contemporary, and comfortable. B
This is a Harlequin free online read and can be found at their website. I think you need to have an account before being able to access it.