I love reading novels that sweep me away to faraway places; far from the mundanity of my daily routines, worries, and struggles. A Distant Heart (Kensington) by Sonali Dev does just that. From page one, suddenly I was in Mumbai, India with its gritty slums, beautiful mansions, rickshaw drivers, and okra curry. The author weaves in Marathi words as well, giving the story a backbone that makes its sensibility authentic and undeniable.

Kimaya, a young woman with a heart transplant has lived behind glass in a mansion her whole life until now. She’s ready to experience the world, in all of its beauty and wonder. When she ventures out, she doesn’t expect the other side—the pain, the poverty, or the darkness and soon, she becomes involved with a crime lord who is leading a very dangerous organ ring on the black market.

Rahul, our policeman hero, was raised in a chawl, a residential building that is cramped, run-down, and in a seedy part of town. He’s lost his father who was shot while safeguarding a politician, and this tragedy along with the sudden expectation that he must help provide for his family haunts Rahul into adulthood. A broody but generous man, he made the perfect counterpart to Kimaya, an optimistic, joyful young woman and the daughter of a politician—the very same Rahul’s father died protecting.

One of the great things about A Distant Heart is that it doesn’t fit into a perfect genre. A coming-of-age tale flavored with suspense, as well a satisfying romantic tale, I found myself turning the pages rapidly, and I even had to swallow a lump of emotion a time or two. The author’s voice is compelling and unique, and at times, Dev sprinkled in a bit of wry humor. But what I enjoyed most of all was the visual imagery, and the little gems about Indian culture I didn’t know before, especially within the context of a gripping, well-paced and thoroughly romantic read. Highly recommended.

A Distant Heart is available for purchase.

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Award-winning author, Sonali Dev, writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith. Sonali’s novels have been on Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post and Kirkus Best Books of the year lists. She has won the American Library Association’s award for best romance, the RT Reviewer’s Choice award for best contemporary romance, the RT Seal of Excellence, and is a RITA Finalist and has been listed for the Dublin Literary Award.

Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world’s most perfect dog. Find out more at sonalidev.com.