Name of the Author : Sundari Venkatraman
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How do you review short stories? This question has been debated in many forums. Every story has an essence, a feel. Some of the stories live up to it and some don't. Being a fan of Leo Tolstoy, I always feel that the stories compiled together should follow a thread. Be it in the form of a character, theme or situation. Thankfully, in this book I found a thread. Romance. My favourite kind. At the age of 40+ I'm a bloody sucker of Romance. What can I do? God is Love. :D
Sundari Venkatraman has brought together 13 stories under the title of Matches Made In Heaven. 13 ? Ummm.. well only Sundari can get away with that number. :D .. and she did.
The Anthology starts with a smashing foreward from Milan Vohra, our very own first Mills & Boon writer in India, Author of The Love Asana and Tick Tock, We're 30.
Stories that worked for me ....
Beauty Is But Skin Deep: This one was a beauty. My Fair Lady is a bit overated in India. To have a dark skin is still looked down upon in the marriage market and Sundari has very sensitively transfrormed Simran. She did not have an expensive pigmentation injections but she underwent a confidence lesson under the gentle hands of Nitin.
I just loved An Arranged Match. It was just too cute. Ritu came out as a fiesty beauty while Yash was a cool guy. Both complimented each other. Though the ending was predicatable .. well some stories however predictable they are, as a romance reader you always want to read it. This is one of those stories.
Rehaan and Jhanavi took my heart in Chahti Hoon Main Tujhe. It was a hot-hot romance and one of the best in this series. It has a complete feel. A story, a conflict and a beautiful ending. Jhanavi as an actress comes out superbly. The history and the papparrazzi create the right amount of tension.
MadeInHeaven.com : Damn cute. Sundari is good in raising social issues without sounding preachy. In here too she has subtly brought out the fact about the worries parents go through if they have an unmarried daughter sitting in the house. I just loved the listing Menka created for her needs in a groom :D
Rahat Mili: is a story of reincarnation. The journey of unfulfilled desire of souls. The story goes back and forth and then falls into place, making this into a page turner.
The Reluctant Bride: Loved it. Till a woman is not ready-- she is not ready. If a man understands that, he is really a man. Again a beautifully portrayed story of a woman understanding her heart and a man waiting till she does not.
Shewta Ka Swayamvar: Too good. And having such reality shows in India, one can very well visualize this kind of a story. Even though I don't approve of these shows for the bride never marries the grrom or even if they do they end up in a divorce court within a year.. but this story has arealistic version - of a participant who will find her mate if she follows her heart. Of all the heroes created by Sundari in this series, I am partial Aditya.
Love Match for Velan: This is a mythology. A rare piece which I'm sure many mytho lovers don't know about. The love story of Lord Kartikeye. Beautifully penned.
Soulmates: I really don't know how to rate this. It has all the right ingredients but I personally feel it was too much information in a short story. But on the whole this story leaves you with a smile over the love stories touching different generations. Maybe .. if it was just the story of Soumya I would have loved it. But taking it to the next gen after almost panting my way to know what was in store for Soumya was like asking a runner to run one more mile after reaching the finishing line.
Reema's Matchmakers: To start with the story title did not do it justice. Reema was the matchmaker. So I started reading it with a different set of mind and was a bit puzzled by this title. But I cannot say I did not like this story for it is a beautiful story of a second chance. I just wish this had some other tittle.
Stories that did not work for me ....
Groomnapped: That is the first one. I remembered a TV serial when I read this. Bhagyavidhata. No it is not the same story under any circumstances. But Sundari's stories generally creates a visualisation for me. This story had a 'Dil Maange More" [Heart wants more] kind of feeling. It was too abrupt. I wanted to know more. I got a bit furious after reading this story, in fact. A bit apprehensive- if I would get the same feel in every other story.
Red Rose Dating Agency is another one that was a bit complicated for me. It could have been a long beautiful story and I really wish Sundari takes it up. But as a short story it was finished off in a bit of a hurry.
Pappa's Girl: I am sorry about this but the girl came out very weak. I understand the problems that an heiress will face but here she comes out too archiac and in today's world with Paris Hilton leading the way for stray heiresses, imgining a woman, a successful business woman, being rescued by her Dad everytime, did not work for me.
Phew! That was one long review. That is the problem with short stories. Each story holds an element of desire, like and dislikes [a bit strong word I know] but some of the stories are such page turners while some makes you want to skimp through the stories. But thankfully in this series even the stories which could have worked better are page turners. I am just dissappointed that they are not a novella. They have that potential and the use of narration was a bit too much in the stories that did not work for me.