- Title: Spice and Smoke
- Author: Suleikha Snyder
- Series: N/A
- Genre(s): Contemporary, M/M, Erotica (?)
- Publisher: Samhain, April 2012
- Purchase: Amazon, $2.66
- Tropes: Star-Crossed Lovers
- Quick blurb: Bollywood celebrities reluctantly star in their own personal soap opera.
- Quick review: Bollywood + angst + humor + HEA + great writing = I want MORE
- Grade: A
Longer review coming soon, but for now… Wow. I need to read it again with a more critical eye, but I definitely *need* to read it again.
When the cameras stop rolling, the real scene begins.
To their adoring public, Avi Kumar and Trishna Chaudhury are Bollywood’s sweethearts. Behind closed doors, their open marriage lets them freely indulge in all manner of forbidden passions. The arrangement suits them both, but as they begin filming on the set of their new movie, the heat of new and rekindled flames singes the pages of what they thought would be a fresh script.
When costars Michael Gill and Harsh Mathur arrive on set, the sexual temperature goes up exponentially—at least for Trish. She can’t take her eyes of Harsh, for whom she’s carried a torch for years. Avi’s instant attraction to Michael, however, bounces off Michael’s solid wall of resistance.
Meanwhile, ex-boyfriends Vikram Malhotra and Sam Khanna, cast as fictional enemies, are finding it harder and harder to control the very real demons that once cost them the love of a lifetime.
Once the music starts, though, they all have no choice but to dance . And pray the fallout doesn’t ruin all their careers…and destroy their love.
Bollywood + Sexy Times + Gratuitous Musical = Kelly Hands Over Her Debit Card.
A few of my favorite passages….
“So, what if Avinash Kumar is who Ishwar has written in the stars for you?” First love-struck and then stressed, now Mathur the Monk was painfully insightful. “Then what will you do, Michael Gill? You’ll be crying into your Kingfisher like I am.”
“Shove off, Harsh.” Michael pulled a face, shrugging off his grip. “If I ever cry, it’ll be into a Heineken.”
“Don’t be kind, Avi. Go back to being a drunk kaminey,” she pleaded quietly. “Make eyes at Michael. Hurl insults at me and stay out all night. Pretend you don’t give a damn about anything but what you need.”
“Why?” His voice was bewildered. As young and naïve as hers. “Why would you ask that of me instead of asking for more?”
This misty reminiscence couldn’t last. It wouldn’t last. She knew better.
“Because that man is the husband I know how to let go of.”
His breath left his lungs in a harsh gasp, and he seemed to grow hard as marble. Her only answer was the swift absence of his body, and the bitter remnants of smoke.
Avi came away from the column, crowding into his space. Big and masculine and such a mardh. Such a man. “I don’t have a half-life. I have a full life. Everything I have is what I want. Except you…you are standing just out of my reach, na?”
It was just enough truth to make Michael’s nerves dance. To send his blood south and stirring. He inhaled, but the breath wasn’t cleansing or calming. It was full of heavy, humid air and the taste of Avinash’s mouth. It would be so easy to fuck him. To say “yes” and end this bullshit dance of tension and violence and lies. He wanted to. He wanted Avi to cover him, hold him, wring every last drop of come from his body and render him insensate. But he wanted more than that, too.
Michael wanted honesty. He wanted integrity. He wanted commitment. Passionate confessions and stupid musical numbers in a field of yellow flowers. Everything that they sold to eager young men and women crowding the cinema halls. He didn’t want to believe that was completely an illusion…that they were marketing something that couldn’t be attained.
God, he was beginning to sound like Harsh.
“Don’t you believe in love, Avinash? Sachai pyar? Real love?”
…This time, when he breathed in, he counted to ten, and the air felt pure.
The same could not be said for Avi’s gaze. It was a black as a crow’s wing. “I stopped believing in poetic nonsense when I was twenty, Michael. When I learned that love can be bought and sold, the price haggled over like fish at market. There’s no such thing as ‘sachai pyar’. There’s just deep trust. Trishna and I have that. You and I could have it also.”
No. No, they couldn’t. Michael wanted to take his face between his palms, to kiss him until there was nothing left but heat and sweetness. He wanted to bathe the redness from his eyes and slowly, softly, scrape the beard from his cheeks. He wanted to tell him, “Rest with me” and “Be with me” and “Fight with me” and “Fuck me”. But he couldn’t promise to trust a man who didn’t trust himself.
So he did what he’d done just weeks ago on this very veranda.
He turned and walked away.
All that lovely angsty goodness, AND a happy ending. *~*sigh*~*