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Tall Poppy Review: Love & Afterlife in “A Change of Heart”

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Sonali Dev’s third novel, A Change of Heart (Kensington), opens with Dr. Nikhil “Nic” Joshi, a former Doctors Without Borders physician, who’s working as a cruise ship doctor. He’s drinking himself to death while alternately chasing down, and hiding from, the ghost of his wife, Dr. Jen Joshi, who has been dead for 2 years. She was murdered before his eyes, along with their unborn baby.

When a stranger, a Bollywood dancer named Jess Koirala, shows up on Nic’s cruise ship knowing and saying things shared only between Nic and Jen, Nic is gutted. But then comes the real shocker, the stranger shows Nic a jagged scar and tells him that she has been given Jen’s transplanted heart. Not only that, Jen has also been communicating with her from the other side.

“I feel like I know her.”

While Nic remains skeptical, he is pulled in by Jess’s compelling story and becomes consumed by her. He is utterly obsessed with finding out the real truth about Jen’s murder. But Jess wants him to focus on something else.

“Sometimes you have to have faith. Sometimes you have to leap first to see if your parachute will open.”

Jess doles out information about her own past in small bites. She has a son named Joy staying with her flatmate and friend back home, who she is anxious to get back to. She also has a past trauma that is haunting her like a nightmare. Jess lets Nic into her world slowly.

“This stubbornly meditative woman, who shrouded herself in darkness and appeared impossible to touch, was nothing but an eggshell.”

The resulting journey is one that will unravel a dark ring of organ trafficking, unspeakable violence, and crime in Calcutta and Mumbai. The fast-paced mystery plot is beautifully interwoven with the very personal story of Dr. Nic and Jess, two grief-stricken people finding their way back to life – and back to love. Jen shows up in this story as well, although not in the way you might think. Every chapter begins with an excerpt of her diary and the reader will appreciate hearing her voice from the past as the story unfolds.

“Sometimes marriage terrifies me. If I don’t keep a piece of me for myself, won’t I be just one half of a whole?”

A Change of Heart is connected to Dev’s prior novel, The Bollywood Bride, which featured the wedding of Nic and Jen as a backdrop, but focused on the story of Ria and Vik. Ria and Vik make important appearances in A Change of Heart too. But really, this novel can stand on its own.

If Sonali Dev is a new author for you, I promise you it will make you hungry for more of her layered storytelling and gorgeous prose.

Sonali Dev’s A Change of Heart is a raw, poignant and heartbreakingly beautiful story of courage and the resiliency of the human spirit. I highly recommend!

A Change of Heart is available for purchase.

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ABOUT SONALI DEV:

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 in a happily ever after.

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.

Amy Impellizzeri is a former corporate litigator, start-up executive, and award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction. Her debut novel, Lemongrass Hope (Wyatt-MacKenziePublishing 2014) was a 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Bronze Winner and a National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist. Amy’s newest novel, The Truth About Thea, (Wyatt-MacKenziePublishing 2017), has been called “clever, mind-bending and darkly original” (NYT Best-Selling Author Heather Gudenkauf) “thrilling and well-plotted” (NYT and USA TODAY Best-Selling Author Julie Cantrell) and a “perfectly compelling read all the way to the shocking end.” (USA TODAY AND WSJ Best-Selling Author Kimberly Belle). Amy is a frequent invited speaker at Lawyers in Transition Meetings, annual Bar conferences, and creative writing workshops across the country. Amy is a member of the Tall Poppy Writers and the Past President of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She is a 2018 Writer-in-Residence at Ms-JD.org. Keep in touch at www.amyimpellizzeri.com.

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