This post is going to be on the long side so I’m going to do away with the catchy intros and just jump right in. This week Melinda and Jessica are participating in the blog tour for A Change of Heart by one of their favorite authors, Sonali Dev. We’ve got a silly story of two bloggers, a review, an interview with the author, and, if you make it all the way to the end, a giveaway! Fun right! We think so 🙂
Melinda and Jessica have both read (and LOVED) all of Sonali Dev’s books and knew that A Change of Heart was a book they needed to read as soon as possible. While their journey to reading the book starts and ends in the same place it takes a few detours along the way–here’s what happened.
Jessica: OMG! Hey, Melinda! Sonali Dev is going to be at BEA! AHHHHH!
Melinda: Awesome! I hope we can get ARC’s of the new book!
A few weeks later, Melinda and Jessica get to BEA and get to have the one of the best fangirl moments ever hanging out with Sonali who graciously gives us display copy of A Change of Heart. The one and only copy at BEA. *insert your own ideas of how Jessica and Melinda decided who got to keep that copy*
Jessica: Thanks for the book, Sonali! 😉
Later that night at the hotel: Being the bookworms we are Melinda and Jessica settle in for some bedtime reading and, of course, pick up some of their BEA haul.
Jessica: I’m going to start A Change of Heart *is excited*
*reads the first paragraph of page one* Um no. Just no. *puts book down*
Melinda: What’s up?
Jessica: I’m not even done with the first page and I’m getting teary. I can’t read this right now.
Melinda: Is that good or bad?
Jessica: Sonali is an evil evil woman.
A couple of days later, Jessica posts a rather emotional rant/review on Facebook:
“Chapter 1:OMG! Just rip my heart out why don’t you! You said your books have a happy ending–that wasn’t just to lull me into a false sense of security was it? I’m trusting you here Sonali!
Chapter 5: Who the F is this B and what is she doing to Nic?!? I swear, Honey, mess with him and I’ll cut you. PS Change your freaking name. I think I hate you and we can’t have the same name.
Chapter 12: Well. Ok. Maybe this chick has gone through some stuff but I don’t know if I can like her you know? If she’s his HEA she’s still got a lot to prove. I’m feeling very sisterly overprotective of Nic right now.
Chapter ? Somewhere in the middle: Yay, it’s Ria and Vik! I love them! And the whole family. Let’s hope they can help Nic find what he needs–in all the ways. And that they poke at Jess and see what she’s up to. They can’t possibly trust her, right?
The End: Annnnnd I finished it. Now I need some quiet time with a box of chocolate.”
To which she receives the following responses:
Melinda: You’re making me NEED this book more than I already did lol! *grabby hands*
Sonali Dev: Thank you! And thanks for the ranting on your FB page, love it. And my poor Jess!!
Jessica: Poor Jess?!?! Pfsst. She got off easy. [other stuff removed because spoilers sweetie]
Jessica: I have a feeling your enjoying my emotional turmoil too much :p
Sonali: I’m enjoying (more like loving) your emotional engagement. Seriously, thank you for that.
Jessica: *imagines Sonali sitting in some crazy throne-like chair tapping her fingers and laughing like some movie supervillain.*
Fast forward a bit to when Melinda gets an ARC of the book too!
Jessica: You finished it? Now we can talk? Yay!
Melinda: Yes! I admit that it took me longer to get into this one. The beginning of the book didn’t grab me immediately, but I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads so you can see I had a ‘change of heart’ (see what I did there lol) by the end.
Jessica: Speaking of changes–can we change Jess’ name? I really am not ok with having the same name as this chick.
Melinda: I don’t think we get to do that lol!
Jessica: Can I just call her “that manipulative bitch” then?
Jessica: Fine then *pouts* But seriously, I can see why it took you a bit longer to read it. It wasn’t exactly like Sonali’s other two books. I thought the last one was more emotional but this one drags you into all sorts of dark places.
Melinda: Yes, this book has a different tone and atmosphere than the previous two that came before it. I hate to think that people may abandon the book because of the difference in tone because it’s just as beautifully written and just as great of a book.
Jessica: Exactly. I think that it may be a shock to some readers but not everything can be happy all the time, right? That wouldn’t be life.
[The rest of this conversation has been edited out because of spoilers but here are Melinda and Jessica’s final thoughts]
Jessica: I’ll just say that if the author’s goal was to write a book that causes dramatic emotional swings in her readers she were successful, lol! I think I both loved and hated this book in all the best ways. And without giving away too much, I don’t hate this Jess woman as much as I did in the beginning but I’m still not sure I like her. But I guess she’s not so bad. Definitely the rebound girl but not the cold-hearted bitch I was afraid she’d be. In summary, great book, definitely darker than the others not a fluffy romancy light read but not so heavy it’s oppressive. Tissues are required for the beginning but upgrade that to a large glass of wine for the middle. Add it to your TBR list, you won’t be disappointed. Oh one side note, I really think A Change of Heart is enhanced by reading The Bollywood Bride first. It’s not a straight sequel and it’s certainly not required to read the other first, but personally I think the emotional gut punch in the beginning of the book is much more impactful if you’ve already met Nic and Jen.
Melinda: There is a darker undertone of grief and sadness in this book which at first threw me off but when I thought about it was absolutely an element in the previous book with the character’s pasts as well. This one just had it a little more prevalent right away. As more and more layers were revealed to the plot and characters I got more entrenched in their lives and in their relationship. Nik broke my heart and I just wanted Jess to be able to fix everything. But then Jess broke my heart the more that was revealed about her.
What I love the most about Dev’s writing is that she brings diversity to romance effortlessly (or at least it seems effortless) and that’s so desperately needed. I love to read about the culture in her books, the different foods and their traditions. She’s such a wonderful author and brings all of this with layered characters and a thoughtful plot. I can’t wait for her next book already!
I’m sure by now you’re sick of listening to us talk…why not take a peek at what Sonali Dev had to say in our recent interview:
Bookish Devices: A Change of Heart is a little darker than the previous two books – what made you want to go that route? When you develop the characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
Sonali Dev: Nikhil and Jen were important secondary characters in The Bollywood Bride and I’ve lived with them for many years now. My intention after I finished The Bollywood Bride was to write Nikhil and Jen’s story. But given the life they led and the dangerous situations they routinely placed themselves in, this awful tragedy happened without me meaning for it to. Once it had happened, I couldn’t make it unhappen and the story became about exploring what happens when your happily ever after turns into loss and tragedy. What does it take for a person like Nikhil— who sees life as black and white, who sees love as a once in a lifetime thing— to find healing and a reason to go on.
As for my characters I usually know them really well before I begin. I especially know what their wounds and conflicts are because I’m primarily concerned with having them grow past and overcome those.
BD: Do you remember the first story you ever read and the impact it had on you? Or the first story that had a major impact on you?
SD: I was probably in second or third grade when I read this true story set in 1600’s India about a milkmaid called Hirkani who goes to work in one of the most well-guarded forts in King Shivaji’s kingdom. Every day at sundown the fortress shuts down and by decree of the king no one can enter or leave. One evening Hirkani gets delayed at her job and by the time she gets to the gates, they’re shut. She has a baby at home and must get out of the fort and to him and she begs the gatekeepers to let her out. But rules are rules and they refuse to bend them for her. She scales the fortress walls and makes her way down the cliff the fortress is built on specifically to keep out the most well trained enemy soldiers, and she makes her way to her baby.
The story was called ‘For My Baby.’ It was such a tale of courage, agency, and female power, and it touched me and inspired me at so many levels I think it changed me forever.
BD: Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
SD: Other than consuming copious amounts of chai and chocolate? I write in very intense fits and starts during which I get really really moody. Sobbing one minute and throwing my arms around random people the next. Plus, I listen to the same music over and over again until my harried family starts throwing headphones in my general direction.
BD: I know a lot of authors joke about needing to erase their search history – what’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research for a book?
SD: Gosh, there are so many. From something as harmless yet crucial as finding out how many years it takes for condoms to expire, to all the various ways in which organs can be cut out of human bodies in order to last the longest.
Tangentially, possibly my least favorite search was the various forms of wound infections— doesn’t look bad in my search history but those images will never ever leave my brain and I would do anything to un-see them.
BD: What’s something you are really good at that few people know about?
SD: Don’t know how good I am at it but I love to fix things and build things. I replaced the railings in our house a few years ago and cutting the wrought iron spindles was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. I’ve also replaced our garbage disposal, fixed my mother’s sewing machine. I can change tires (my father taught me even before I learned how to drive) and replace all the lights in a car. But don’t ask me the make and model of said car, I’d have to call the hubby.
BD: One of the things I love about your writing is the diversity you bring to romance which is so needed. The culture, the food, the traditions included in your books make me so happy. Can you recommend any authors or books with diversity in romance for us and our readers?
SD: My favorite question…
Kishan Paul’s Second Wife.
Falguni Kothari’s My Last Love Story (which will soon be rereleased under a different title)
Suliekha Snyder’s Bollywood stories
Annika Sharma’s Rearranged marriage
Anything at all by Piper Huguley and Alyssa Cole and Jeanie Lin
Also follow these authors on social media and you will never be short on recommendations.
BD: You have the BEST covers, I know you hear that all the time. This one might be my favorite, no question here – just had to tell you that!
SD: Thank you! And truth be told, mine too. I just feel like this cover captures the exact mood and tone of the story.
Before you run out to buy your copy of
Click the link below and enter to win one of Sonali Dev’s wonderful books
*giveaway run by CLP blog tours*
And if you missed it, check out our earlier Ten Questions with Sonali Dev
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Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewers: Jessica & Melinda
Title: A Change of Heart
Author: Sonali Dev
Release Date: September 27, 2016