Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Book Review: Vegas to Varanasi

By Gail Allison

Anna is nice. That's the foremost thing that everyone notices and remembers about her. She's an involved parent and good example to her kids. She's fantastic friends with her ex-husband, Luke (they separated after they came to terms with the fact that he's gay). She's even nice enough to try and salvage a relationship when her current boyfriend, David, starts dipping into the whiskey a little too often for anyone's comfort. And Anna has always been nice, all the way back to high school. When she's at a wedding one night with Luke, she happens to run into a gorgeous gentleman named Kiran who remembers her from high school specifically for being so….you guessed it…nice.

Kiran was always the fat kid in school, and the emotional scars from that are still dangerously close to the surface. Anna has just ended a long-term relationship with David after his excessive drinking put her and her kids in a spot that none of them deserved to be in. It's obvious from the way the characters are set up that this won't be one of those classic chick-lit whirlwind romances. When Anna and Kiran finally start to realize their feelings for one another (set against the awesome backdrop of Varanasi), Ms. Hickman still does a fantastic job of keeping the hesitance alive. It's so obvious to the reader that these two might just be perfectly meant for each other, but it's written in such a realistic way that Anna and Kiran keep second-guessing the relationship as "too good to be true."

Vegas to Varanasi could be a very boring, standard straight-line love story, but Ms. Hickman keeps it from becoming that way by keeping all the secondary characters very much alive. From the alcoholic ex to Anna's daughter's new boyfriend (and all the drama that comes from that) to Kiran's traditional family in Varanasi, this novel moves along at a light-hearted pace, but never feels obvious in the plotline. Even near the end when most authors would be winding down the pace of the book, Ms. Hickman introduces another branch of the storyline, and she does it well enough that I'm curious if she's ever planning a sequel to this novel. I, for one, would really like to know what happens after the story is over, and to me that's definitely the sign of a good novel.

The most surprising part of this novel to me was the Vegas aspect. I always think of Vegas as a sparkling, super fun destination. I've never really thought of it as home to anyone normal. I thought it was really cool to have this family going through regular family things, but against the backdrop of Vegas. It could have taken place in any town anywhere, but it was really neat to have this normalcy juxtaposed against the bright lights of the Las Vegas that everyone knows. Aside from a few landmarks mentioned, the fact that this story took place in Vegas didn't even come up, but every once in a while I'd remember and be impressed at the way it was all worked together in this story.

All in all, this was a fun read and I sure hope Ms. Hickman is planning a sequel. I think she'd do a great job and if it were to carry on in the same vein with the same style as Vegas to Varanasi, I'd definitely pick up a copy.

Thanks to Shelly Hickman for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Shelly Hickman:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for reading and sharing your review, Gail! And I do plan to start a sequel this summer. :)