“A Change of Heart” by Sonali Dev (2016)
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Page Length: 352 pages (electronic review copy)
Synopsis: Dr. Nikhil ‘Nic’ Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.
Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.
Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy. She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication. (description from Goodreads)
A Change of Heart follows the story of a man named Nikhil who is mourning over the death of his wife, Jen, who passed two years ago. One day he meets a woman named Jess, who looks similar to his wife and she is coincidentally the organ donor recipient of Jen’s heart. Their mission to find the truth behind Jen’s death brings up many questions shrouded in mystery.
Nikhil can’t seem to move on after Jen’s death and is haunted daily by his treasured memories of her. Jen was is other half and now he feels incomplete without her. Meeting Jess stirs up feelings that he has tried to keep buried for so long in order to live day-to-day. Though he eventually gives into helping Jess figure out the mystery, he still can’t cope with the events that surrounded her death.
Jess, on the other hand, is torn between taking advantage of a broken man and saving her own son, Joy, from danger as she is being blackmailed by mysterious person who wants Jen’s secrets. Though she hates being apart from Joy she is fueled to complete her mission in order to return to him safely while (like Nikhil) battling her past.
Both Nikhil and Jess continue to hide from one another ever after they develop an acquaintance type of relationship. They are reluctant to share their pasts and both of their secrets start to eat at each other. The tensions between the two not only intensify as they get closer to the truth, but as the bad guys (who Jess is “working” for) further develop their plans in order to continue their black market operation.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I liked Dev’s writing style and how her words are descriptive, yet poetic. The plot shows strong character development and I appreciated that the romance didn’t happen in the beginning, but rather took it’s time to form. Nikhil and Jess need time to work on their own broken hearts and pasts in order to heal and help each other move on.
This was the first book I’ve read by her and I found it to be a satisfying story. The story was entertaining, the characters felt real, and while there were some difficult (trigger warning) topics that arose within the plot I like how they were discussed. It was also very interesting to read about some aspects of Indian culture that I was unfamiliar with. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books in the future!
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.