Monday, April 15, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: M for MANU, the tiger

 

MANU is the name I gave the tiger in my historical fiction novel. The young princess of Kongunadu, Chamundeswari, brings the little tiger cub to her palace, when he is found near his dead mother’s carcass. The little princess is also orphaned when the king and queen die in a palace fire. Princess and pet grow together to make a powerful team. 

I recall watching a Tamil film when I was in school. It had the villain having a tiger for a pet. I have always been fascinated with this idea, especially when I heard from a cousin that people living in the US had wild animals for pets. At least, that’s what he told me in the 1970s. I don’t know the present scenario.

Finally, I could give vent to my imagination when I wrote my second historical romance fiction called THE REBEL PRINCESS, where Princess Chamundeshwari has a pet tiger called MANU.

The princess is glad to have Manu’s company in her lonely life, especially surrounded by enemies. While Manu is generally docile, he could turn into a predator if he finds his mistress under threat. 


Read some excerpts featuring Manu:
SCENE 1

Just before dawn, Vijayendran woke up with a jerk when he heard Manu snarl. Wide awake even as he sat up on the wall, he watched in astonishment when Manu sprang down from the wall into the garden and loped further ahead towards the back door of the house. What must have set the tiger off?

He quickly jumped down from the wall too and took off behind Manu, doing his best to remain as silent as possible. He stopped and moved behind a tree when he saw Manu facing a man who was trembling from head to foot, obviously on coming across the fully grown tiger in the garden. Vijayendran could see the man’s hand—the one in which he was holding a kuthuval—shake, so much so he was on the verge of dropping the dagger. 

As for Manu, he was preparing to leap on the man, stretching his sleek body, building pressure on his front paws.

Vijayendran was curious to know what the tiger would do. It was obvious that Manu was completely tame and too well fed to crave human flesh. But it was also evident the tiger had sensed danger in the man. It was not just the fact he was a stranger. After all, had Manu not befriended Vijayendran the very first time they met?

The prince could see the man was up to no good. Or why would be come here before dawn when everyone tended to sleep like the dead? 

Manu leaped suddenly and the man screamed, the dagger falling out of his hand in a clatter. He was lying on the floor with the huge tiger’s front paws on his chest.

Vijayendran laughed softly even as he stepped out of his hiding place from behind the tree and walked to the rear doorway of the house where the man was sprawled on his back, abject terror in his face.

As for Manu, he growled deeply, showing his sharp incisors, obviously scaring the man out of his wits. 

SCENE 2

Princess Chamundeswari automatically turned in the direction he was pointing at and her eyes and mouth went wide in astonishment when she caught sight of a number of peacocks and peahens not all that far from them. Three of the peacocks had opened their feathers out to the fullest extent, turning this way and that as they wooed their mates. 

She laughed out loud when she heard the raucous calls the birds exchanged. “Looking at their beauty, one would imagine they would have lovely voices, right?” She laughed again when the peacocks and peahens once again screamed to each other. 

Suddenly, Manu, who had been sleeping on the top of his cage, leaped down and raced across the forest, scattering the ostentation of the colourful birds as they flew up on to the tree branches. 

“Naughty Manu! Come here,” called the princess, laughing some more.

Vijayendran was speechless as he stared at her. The angry woman he had known over the past three days had completely disappeared. In her place was a laughing princess who had jumped off her horse to race after Manu who was about to climb the tree as he chased the peacocks. The prince got down from his horse, a cheerful smile on his handsome face as he took in the lovely scene where the beautiful princess of Kongunadu chased her gentle tiger Manu which in turn was growling at the escaped peacocks. Looping Kethu’s reins around a tree branch, he leaned against the trunk to watch the scene around him. 

Anagha pushed the curtain to one side to look out of the carriage when she heard Princess Chamundeswari’s laughter and was thoroughly amused by Manu’s antics. Just as she wondered if she should get down to go help her mistress, Chamundeswari caught her pet by the scruff of his neck and ordered him back to his cage. 

“If you do not behave, Manu, I will have to lock you in your cage, do you hear?” she scolded him affectionately.

Manu gave a soft growl of acknowledgement before rubbing his head against her sari-clad leg, making it difficult for her to walk. Which only made Princess Chamundeswari laugh all the more. Soon, the two of them, woman and tiger, were rolling on the grass in a mock tug of war. 

Gentle laughter and soft growls permeated the air as Vijayendran and Anagha watched on in amusement.


Saturday, April 13, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: L for LOVE… NO CONDITIONS ASKED

 

LOVE… NO CONDITIONS ASKED is a standalone romance novel following the story of Shrikant and Savita. I introduced the two of them in another novel of mine, and felt an urge to write one specially for them. 

While many people have loved the bold premise to this story, some have hated it. All I can say is NONE OF US ARE PERFECT! Which is exactly the theme of this book—that love has no conditions. 

When they appeared in GROUNDED (Book 3 of The Groom Series), they had already been married for fourteen years, and had a preteen daughter too.

I decided to start their romance in the middle of their marriage, instead of going back in time and writing about their falling in love for the first time. Though I have woven the story in such a fashion that it goes back and forth to their past and present. 

This book is available on Kindle and is free on Kindle Unlimited. 


Story-in-Brief:

“I want a divorce.” Shrikant is shaken when his wife of sixteen years greets him with those terrible words when he lands in Singapore, after being separated from her for two long years because of the lockdown which had crippled the world.

Savita knows that she doesn’t deserve a wonderful man like Shrikant, even though she loves him from the bottom of her heart. Which is the reason why she’s ready to leave him; and their teenage daughter, forever.

His heart refuses to let him believe that the woman he loves more than life itself, wants to divorce him. And he tries his best to dissuade her from taking such a drastic step.

But will she listen to him? And what about Shrikant, is his love strong enough to face the truth of why Savita wants to go her separate way?

You can stalk her @
      

Friday, April 12, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: K for KICKASS KHANNAS

 

KICKASS KHANNAS is a multi-book series I have been planning for at least two years. The novels surround the lives of the seven Khanna siblings who live in Delhi. 

To begin with, seven siblings in one family was kind of difficult even for me to swallow. But then I thought, “What the hell? This is how I want the series to be.” Please bear with me, my readers. But somewhere along the way while planning this series, Karan Johar’s spirit has come to live in me, I think. 

I introduced the Khanna family in my book SHAAN GETS HITCHED, which is a part of the MALHOTRAS series. 

I also conducted a contest whether to call them “Kickass” or “Khiladi” and KICKASS KHANNAS won with the bigger number of votes. 

I am planning to release the first couple of books in the second half of 2024. In this blog, I am revealing the titles, along with the name of the sibling each book belongs to. 


MONDAY’S CHILD is fair of face – Jheel Khanna

TUESDAY’S CHILD is full of grace – Yuvraj Khanna

WEDNESDAY’S CHILD is full of woe – Shirina Khanna

THURSDAY’S CHILD has far to go – Raunaq Khanna

FRIDAY’S CHILD is loving and giving – Barkha Khanna

SATURDAY’S CHILD works hard for its living – Dhruv Khanna

SUNDAY’S CHILD is fair & wise & good in every way – Harsh Khanna

If you have any questions regarding these books, you are welcome to ask them in the comments section. 


Thursday, April 11, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: J for JAMIE SCOTT

 

ROSE GARDEN INTERNATIONAL, the 2nd book in The Bansal Legacy trilogy, is an interracial romance.

It is the story of Rhea Bansal and Jamie Scott. So, it is J for Jamie Scott this tenth day of April for the blogging challenge 2024.

Jamie hails from Australia. He’s curious to visit Ooty, a hill station in South India, mainly because his grandmother had spoken to him a lot about it.

His grandparents had fallen in love with Ooty and set up house there during the British Raj, and had later moved to Australia when India became independent in 1947. In fact, his own father had been born in Ooty. His grandmother had left all her memories of the Indian hill station in the form of her diaries.

Jamie makes a sudden decision to check his roots in India and catches a flight. Was it his destiny calling out to him? Read this romance novel about Jamie and Rhea to know more. The book is available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and as a Paperback.

 

Sample Chapter from my book:

Rhea didn’t realise she had been looking out for him. But her heart picked up tempo when Jamie entered the reception from a side door. Dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans and a jade green full-sleeved t-shirt, the same shade as his eyes, he was truly a sight for sore eyes. She had put in too many hours at work and had been sorry to cancel their dinner plans. It was almost 9 pm and she needed to eat. She wondered if he had had his dinner. Well, the only way to find out was to ask.

She walked forward to meet him halfway, giving him a soft smile. “Hey!” His hair was damp, probably from a shower, she thought. His eyes were red-rimmed. Would he be too tired to spend an hour or so with her? 

Jamie looked at Rhea. Though beautiful, she looked beat. “Hey,” he grinned, “Are you still working?”

She shook her head. “Just got done. Have you had your dinner?”

“Nope. And you?”

Rhea grinned now. “Not yet. I know it’s rather late. But would you mind sharing a meal with me?”

Jamie laughed. “I ne’er stopped hoping. Do you want to go out? Any specific place in mind?”

Rhea shook her head. “The local joints will be closing as we talk. Actually, if you don’t mind, shall we order a meal over at my place? We’ll order whatever you want to have,” she tempted him.

Would he mind?! Jamie jumped at the chance. “I’m game. Lead me.”

Rhea laughed, thrilled at his response. “Come along then.” She took his hand to walk to the other end of the reception and stepped out into the cold air. “Are you okay? It’s so cold.”

Jamie shrugged, holding on to her hand, liking the feel of it. “I just had a swim in the hot pool. I must say it was a fabulous experience.”

No wonder his hair was still damp. “I’m glad you’re enjoying the hotel’s facilities. So, where did you go for the day?” 

They had reached the wicket gate by now. Jamie opened the latch and let her walk ahead of him, following right behind her. “I took the toy train and went all the way down the mountains.”

Rhea opened the double door with a brass key. “Welcome to my home,” she said, walking in.

Jamie stared, his jaw dropping. From the outside, the building had appeared like a small cottage with a tiled roof. But they had entered a living room which seemed to go on forever. “This is lovely,” he said, turning to look at her.

“Make yourself at home, Jamie,” she said, pointing him to a comfortable couch. “What would you like to drink?”

“Some brandy, if you have it.”

“Brandy it is. Soda?” asked Rhea, turning to a well-stocked bar to remove a glass from a shelf. 

Jamie walked up to her, wondering how many people lived in the house. The bar seemed to have a large collection of liquor. Seeing his gaze on them, Rhea laughed. “I have two brothers who love their drinks, just like our father. It was Ritvik who insisted on adding all that stuff.”

“Do they live here?”

Rhea turned around from the fridge from where she had been getting some ice cubes. “No. It’s only me.”

She managed the hotel, she had said. Jamie brushed away his curiosity about the size of her abode. He took the bottle of soda from her hand and opened it before pouring it over the brandy and ice in his glass. “Aren’t you having anything?”

“I plan to. But I desperately need a shower before that. Let me light the fire before going to have one. Just give me ten minutes.” While there was central heating, Rhea had always thought a fire was way more fun.

“Why don’t you go and have your shower? I’ll light the fire,” offered Jamie.

“Are you sure?”

Jamie grinned. “Of course! And I’ll keep your drink ready for you. What’s your poison?”

“Hmm... I’m wondering. I prefer cocktails. Maybe I’ll order something from the hotel.”

“Allow me. I’ll make a cocktail for you. Something sweet or you prefer tangy?”

“A bit of both? With lots of ice. That’d be awesome. I’ll see you soon,” she said, walking to the left side and disappearing through a doorway.

Jamie took a sip of his brandy before going to the grate. Logs were neatly piled and ready to be lit. He took some kindling and set it going in no time. No, he wasn’t going to think of a nude Rhea standing under the shower. Shaking his head, Jamie went to the bar and removed a tall glass and filled half of it with crushed ice. Adding some vodka, raspberry liqueur and amaretto liqueur, he squeezed the juice of half a lemon into it. He topped it with lemon-lime soda and stirred the drink, all set for Rhea. 

Taking his own glass, Jamie walked to the floor-length window overlooking the hotel which seemed like something out of a fairy tale. He gazed at it unseeingly, sipping from his glass. He couldn’t wait for Rhea to join him. 

He turned around when he felt her presence and stared unblinking at the sveltely-clad woman who had walked back into the living room in exactly ten minutes as promised. The length of her graceful legs was enhanced by white stilettos. Her chiffon dress of deep red with a swirling white pattern fell a few inches short of her knees. Her curly hair tumbled down her shoulders all the way to her waist. Jamie lifted her cocktail glass and walked over to her, his eyes never leaving her face. 

Rhea’s breath was coming in soft gasps. She had made an effort to dress up after a long, long time; it had been a while since she had felt the urge to. A sizzle went up her arm when her fingers brushed against his as she took the drink from him. “Cheers!” Her voice hoarse, she raised the glass in a toast, touching it to his.

“Cheers!”


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: I for ISHIKA CHATTERJEE

The heroine of my romance novel called THE FLOUNDERING AUTHOR, Ishika Chatterjee is the commissioning editor of a major publishing house in Delhi. I find a lot of women from Bengal who work for the media, have an excellent command of the King’s language, which is why I gave Ishika a Bengali background.

Ishika is attracted to Jai Wadhwa, who aspires to become a published author. And she sincerely believes that his book is worthy of being part of Cooper Publishing House’s catalogue, the company she works for. But the CEO of the publishing house tries to manipulate Ishika in the worst way possible. 

Does she take it lying down? Never! Ishika is not only beautiful, but one hundred per cent bold. She does something which anyone who is trying to climb the corporate ladder would never dare to do. Read my book to find out how she handles the situation. 

THE FLOUNDERING AUTHOR (available on Kindle Unlimited & Paperback) is the 3rd book in the WADHWAS trilogy, the first two being FINDING ANYA (Dev Wadhwa) and LEO’S DESIRE (Chaahat Wadhwa). Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t allow one book to be placed in two different categories. While Leo’s Desire is the 2nd book in the Wadhwas trilogy, it is also the second book in my Written in the Stars 6-book series.

All the books can be read as standalone novels.  

Story-in-Brief:

Jai Wadhwa aspires to be a published author only to find that the path he has chosen is full of thorns. He’s almost on the verge of giving up his dream when Ishika Chatterjee walks into his life.

The commissioning editor of a major publishing house based in Delhi, Ishika is keen to have Jai’s book as part of Cooper Publishing House India’s catalogue, only to find her path blocked from all directions.

Heartbroken, Jai goes underground to lick his wounds. Will he ever get to realise his dream or is it doomed forever?

While Ishika isn’t one to give up so easily on a project she strongly believes in, she has nothing less than a battle on her hands. And what about the floundering author himself—the one she has fallen in love with? Will he take on the world and launch his writing career or fade away to nothing?

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: H for HEARTTHROB

 

HEARTTHROB is the second book in the Arora Iyers trilogy, which I spoke about in my first blog for the April Challenge 2024, for the alphabet A. 

It is the story of Krutika, who is barely thirteen, and absolutely confident that she’s in love with the sixteen-year-old Darsh, who is her best friend’s older brother.

It is only later that Krutika’s single father gets married to Darsh’s single mother (Once Bitten Twice Lucky). Not for anything does Krutika give up her love, even going to the point of announcing her intention to marry her stepbrother as soon as she turns eighteen.

Is Darsh embarrassed by his stepsister’s announcement? Not really, especially not with the support he receives from his mother and stepfather. 

But what about Krutika’s wish? Does it come true? Will Darsh fall for her, or no? Read my romance novel to know what happens. 

Story-in-Brief:

Krutika falls headlong in love at the tender age of thirteen when she first sets eyes on the dreamy Darsh. That he is barely sixteen seems oh-so-perfect to the barely-there teenager. She never stops loving him when her father ties the knot with his mother soon afterwards.

Darsh has always led a serious life, his responsibilities as the man of the house weighing heavily upon his young shoulders as his birth father never showed interest in his own family. Later, when his mother remarries his stepfather, he could have lightened up, but it never comes naturally to the young man.

With Krutika chasing him blatantly, Darsh really doesn’t have a place to hide, not even in Boston which is as far as he could get, away from Delhi.

How long will he be able to stall the call of destiny? And a determined young lady who has decided to make him her life partner? And what about love? Will he ever find it?

Read this story which is both young-adult and growing-up-together, all rolled up in one; but nonetheless a hot romance.

Monday, April 8, 2024

A to Z April Challenge 2024: G for THE GROOM SERIES

There are going to be four items for the letter ‘G’.

The first is the title of my book trilogy: THE GROOM SERIES. These stories are about three sisters from a village in Bihar, India. Not just bold and beautiful, Surekha, Radhika, and Vaishali, are also ambitious.

Daughters of a poor carpenter, the three young women lead their lives exactly the way they choose (all thanks to their father) despite the restrictions placed by society; so far as to even thumb their noses at such hurdles.



I am excited about the fact that I coined the word Groomnapped (Groom + kidnapped). This book follows the story of the feisty Surekha and the handsome Ameya, who is the only son of a millionaire farmer. See what happens when they fall in love. 

This is also about the dowry system which dogs the women of Bihar. The richer the groom, the more dowry is demanded. To thwart this, some have got into the habit of kidnapping young men and forcing them to tie the knot with poor young women at the point of a gun. I have based my story on this, hoping to bring a light-hearted angle to the same.
 

I simply love this word and was truly thrilled when I could make it the title for my second book in The Groom Series. This is the story of the village-born Radhika, and the city-bred Amit. They fall in love at first sight during Radhika’s sister’s groomnapped wedding; Amit being a friend of Ameya’s. They get married and she goes to live in a joint family with her husband and his parents in Delhi. 

Things come crashing down when Amit’s mother Shanti ill-treats Radhika. Hating her small-town daughter-in-law, Shanti is determined to break her son’s marriage from Day One. So much so, that Radhika ups and leaves. Amit is unable to forgive his wife (supposedly a courageous woman) for leaving him. Will the hapless couple get back together, ever?


For want of a better word, I had made this the title of the third book in my series, without a clue as to how I was going to play it out. I only knew it was going to be the story of the third sister, Vaishali. Then lockdown happened, and everyone was Grounded; with Vaishali and Avinash stuck with each other as next-door neighbours in a building in Mumbai.
 
He’s totally lost when he’s grounded after returning from abroad, with a time stamp on the back of his hand insisting that he should not come in contact with another human being. Having no clue how to even heat water, he is saved from not only starvation, but also loneliness, by his beautiful neighbour. He falls in love, but she’s dead set against marriage. Will Avinash ever find happiness with the love of his life?

All three books in this series are available on Kindle, and can be read for free on Kindle Unlimited.