Review: Duty and Desire by Anju Gattani


Today I am pleased to present Duty and Desire by Anju Gattani, the first in a planned series of family sagas that present India in a new way to you, the reader.

Duty and Desire
Series: Winds of Fire #1
Author: Anju Gattani
Genre: Family Saga
Publisher: Greenbrier Book Co.
Pages: 304
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Books A Million |
Stars:  4
Book Description:  How Can Happiness Survive When Duty Clashes With Desire?Sheetal Prasad has it all: youth, beauty, wealth and education. But when this modern Indian woman surrenders love for honor and marries into India’s most glamorous ‘royal family’, these very advantages turn against her and she is stripped of her freedom.

Meet the Dhanrajs — a powerful family bound together by a web of lies where infidelity, greed, secrets and hidden identities lurk beneath the lush tapestry. The Dhanrajs have plenty to hide and will do what it takes to mask the truth from the world.

As Sheetal peels back the layers of deceit, she confronts a haunting reality and is threatened by the blazes of passion she ignites.

As today is the last day for the tour – be sure to enter to win one of 10 swag packs by  using this Rafflecopter link.  Or go back to see what others thought of the book, read excerpts and see guest posts by Anju Gattani by using this link: Tour Stops

My review and More about the author can be found by reading on…

My Review:  I received an eBook copy of this book from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.   

Let me start with saying that I had also purchased this book, prior to it coming up as a potential book for me to review.  I have a varied list of purchased books, and Amazon with its recommendations popped this one into my list as I have a few other books by Indian authors that center around women and their relationships.

Part of the joy of reading, for me, is the ability to gain perspective on another’s beliefs, traditions and see the differences and commonalities that we all share.  In this story, the author has clearly detailed the struggle of a modern woman existing with traditional values that have been in existence for hundreds of years.  In addition, her own guilt tends to allow her to behave in less than logical ways: a rather begrudging acceptance of her parent’s choice for marriage turned sideways in a rather Stockholm-syndrome like reaction to the man she has married – against her will, and with his disdain for the custom.

The story does jump about quite a bit: rich with imagery and information it takes a bit to fix all of the strangeness to the western reader to complete the picture. And the author has provided a glossary of terms that are frequently used throughout – my suggestion is that you look at those before starting in on the book; it does help to eliminate some of the strangeness.   What I found is that the characters of both Sheetal and Sanjeet are developed with care and a completeness that depicts, better than expected, the inherent conflicted feelings they both have with the situation. What I don’t have experience with, is the overtly traditional and paternalistic society in which she is expected to live: where some of her reactions feel overblown or excessive to me – they do seem to fit with both the story and her character.  So the tug of the modern against the expected and traditional is a core component of her psyche and her actions.  Sanjeet, on the other hand, is a spoiled brat of a man child – who will bully, batter and berate to get the submissive and compliant reaction he wishes to have, while all the while wanting a ‘western style’ woman who flouts the conservative norms of their society.  And he can’t express love or caring in words – it is done with grand public gestures rather than softly spoken words.  His behaviour and mood swings deepen the conflict within Sheetal:  because there is a ‘one she left behind’ that she sees as the behavioral polar opposite from her husband.

The whole story reads very much like a fly on the wall that is privy to all of the secrets that you don’t share outside your own family, and as such tends to jump about a bit.  But the overwhelming sense I got from this story is that it felt ‘real’. I could easily imagine the conflicts and the struggle that Sheetal experiences in coming to claim her place as the wife, and the constant intrusions of a modern sensibility meeting the traditional expectations.  It was not an ‘easy breezey’ read, at times it was certainly uncomfortable: but still and all quite a good book that left me with a better understanding of the tradition of arranged marriages and the pitfalls that can arrive with them.  It’s an interesting peek into the world of the privileged and wealthy in Indian society, where everyone seems to have some conflict with traditional expectations and the modern wants.  I’d gladly read more from this author, and am happy to recommend this book.

About the Author:  Anju was born in India but grew up in Hong Kong. Her Indian upbringing and British education worked together to strongly influence her writing.

Anju’s fiction explores how the distinct mindsets and traditions of different cultures permanently shape people’s values, thinking, and behavior patterns—for both good and evil—despite the “leveling” effects of 21st century communications and travel.

Anju earned a Bachelors degree in English Literature in India and a teaching degree in the United Kingdom. She has also studied creative writing.

Anju has lived in Singapore, Australia, India, New Jersey and Connecticut. She now makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two kids. Anju is a columnist for a multicultural magazine in the USA. She is also an avid guest blogger, who loves to share her experiences in health and fitness, food, self-empowerment and great fiction reads.

Duty and Desire is her first novel.  Visit Anju at

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