Rocky Varma is a young actress who moves from America to her father’s native India to become a Bollywood star. Her language skills leave much to be desired and a slight culture shock is just another obstacle she must work through to achieve her goal. There’s one friendly face in the crowd but Rocky’s co-star, Ashraf Khan, has his own troubles to work through. One of these problems for both of them is Taj Ali Khan, Ashraf’s older brother.
I don’t know much about India. I can find it on a map, cobble together two or three historical facts, and the little I learned of Hinduism in school I’ve had ample time to forget. Luckily none that hindered my reading experience of Bollywood and the Beast because Snyder’s writing is magic.
“He wore his nightmares like a second skin. Ashraf couldn’t scrub them away under the hot spray of the shower. He could barely cover them in clothing.”
Magic or poetry. Either works for me and both work for the fairytale retelling that is the story. Rocky is the Beauty who faces Taj’s wounded Beast. They meet and sparks fly. Also parents and staff make things slightly inconvenient. I liked their romance even though it felt partly neglected in favour of Ashraf’s story, which didn’t bother me at all because I loved Ashraf’s story with its dark moments and painful reticence.
Ashraf has made some questionable choices to achieve what his brother lost years earlier and now he’s paying for those mistakes that raise interesting questions about consent. He has his brother and a friend in Rocky, but he needs more to put himself back together.
I loved it and I cried.
Final Assessment: Read it. B
Source: Advanced Readers’ Copy provided for review.
Series: Bollywood Confidential #3.