I am SO EXCITED to be hosting my good friend the lovely, generous, amazing Ritu Bhathal on my blog today as part of her blog tour for her new release – Marriage Unarranged – which I had the pleasure to beta read. I can recommend 100% – in fact I loved it so much I read it twice!
LOVED this book, my 5 star review is here: https://mjmallon.com/2020/02/09/book-review-marriage-unarranged-ritu-bhathal-arc-review/
So without further ado, let me introduce Ritu to you…
Hello there, Marje, and Hi! to all your readers too! I am so honoured to be visiting your blog in order to promote my new book, Marriage Unarranged, just released yesterday, actually!
Now, the book centres around my main character, Aashi, and her journey after finding out her fiancé has been cheating on her. A key character in the story is her best friend, Kiran, and Aashi would really like to share some background about her and Kiran, and their relationship, with you.
Aashi’s view of Kiran
Hello again! It’s Aashi here. I think I really need to introduce you to my best friend, Kiran. I loved being the only girl in my family, when I was younger. My two brothers and my dad, especially, doted on me. They still do, to be honest. But as I hit the teenage years, I began to yearn for a sister. Sure, I had lots of cousins, but it wasn’t the same. All that changed when I started college. That’s when I met Kiran. I was so nervous, being in this huge place, not knowing many of the other students, and when I sat down in my Economics lecture, I had no idea that my neighbour would become such a big part of my life. Kiran had been to a different school, coming from another part of Birmingham, but fate sat us together that first day and, well, you could say, she’s been by my side, in every way, ever since.
She was the loud to my quiet; the outspoken to my shy. And she was also in need of a sister. You think I have it bad with my two bodyguard brothers? Think of poor Kiran with three!
We just bonded. Two Sikh girls, from similar families, with the same sense of humour and interests; Bollywood films and bhangra music. And the same rules of living to adhere by.
No going out
I think my parents were relieved when they found out that we were going to the same university, in Nottingham. It was hard enough getting my mum to agree to me living out, so the thought of us both there, together, was a bit of balm on her worry. We went out to clubs and gigs for the first time there. It was all a bit crazy. I hated being
approached by guys, but Kiran was there, with her one liner retorts, to send them packing. That’s not to say we didn’t like any of them. But it just wasn’t the done thing. We just wanted to dance with our friends and have a laugh. Personally, I was so glad my parents let me come to university, the last thing I wanted to do was take any steps to disappoint them and going out with a boy would have been one of them.
The night I met Ravi. Kiran was there with me. We’d graduated and were at a party. I guess my parents had mellowed a little since I’d been to university, allowing me out in the evening.
You should have seen her, eagle eyes trained on him as he talked to me, not leaving my side, asking him all sorts of questions. I guess, like a sister, making sure he was a good guy. After all, I’d never really been out with anyone before. She’s always been there for me. The first one I call up to make decisions, to share good news with, to cry to if I’m down. And she has been awesome all through my wedding preparations. I’m just glad I won’t be moving far away, so she can still be near me, my sister, forever.
And an extract from the novel, where we first meet Kiran.
Kiran caught the bus to Stratford Road. She had no idea what the problem was. If Aashi’s previous behaviour regarding the wedding was anything to go by, she’d probably seen some fantastic jewellery and wanted Kiran’s opinion. Or maybe it was something to do with the bridal makeup. With Aashi, who knew…
Aashi had met Ravi the summer they graduated. Kiran wasn’t interested in marriage. Not yet. She’d been happy when Aashi got engaged because she knew how important it was to her friend. Ravi was a bit of a lad, always out with his boys on Broad Street at the weekends, dressed up as if he was on the pull, smelling like he’d bathed in the aftershave du jour, though he seemed to have calmed down once he’d got ‘hooked’.
Kiran saw Aashi notice her through her rear-view mirror and hurried up slightly. It was 11:30 am. Her friend had been waiting for about half an hour for her. Knocking on the passenger window, Kiran waved a gloved hand at Aashi. It was still cold, and the heating on the bus was terrible. As the door opened, she stamped her feet to get a bit of feeling into them. Once she was sitting in the car, Kiran peeled off her gloves and exclaimed, “It’s bloody freezing out there, this had better be good!”
When she turned to look at her mate, she noticed the blotchy eyes. They weren’t the eyes Kiran was generally greeted with. Aashi’s large, almond-shaped eyes were usually ringed perfectly with black kohl liner, the only makeup she wore, other than a slick of lip gloss. Then she saw the pile of discarded tissues, smeared with what must be black kohl, on the floor of the car. Aashi’s waist-length hair, usually left open, flowing like a sheet of silk, was hastily tied back with a grotty, grey scrunchie.
“Aashi, babe, what’s the matter? Don’t tell me. He doesn’t want to go to St Lucia or the Maldives. Hey, mate, come on, there’s no point in getting into a state like this. Come here.” Kiran pulled Aashi into a big bear hug. She’d always been the stronger of the two and was used to Aashi getting emotional over little things. As she held her friend, she realised the sobs were getting louder and not quietening down, at all.
“Aashi, please tell me what’s wrong, I can’t help you if I don’t know why you’re crying.”
Accompanied by a lot of sobbing and hiccupping, Kiran coaxed the events of the morning out of her friend.
startedended with that box…
Aashi’s life was all set.
Or so she thought.
Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.
But then Aashi found the empty condom box…
Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.
Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.
And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…
Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her. From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.
As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
Ritu also writes a blog, www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.
Social Media Profiles
Blog Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com
Author Website: http://www.ritubhathal.com
And by clicking the following link, you get to my author profile on Amazon
Hey, you guessed it! I am super excited for Ritu. xxx
Social Media Links
Authors Website: https://mjmallon.com
Collaborative Blog: https://sistersofthefey.wordpress.com
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
#ABRSC: Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook