Spice and Smoke by Suleikha Snyder (Bollywood Confidential #1)


13447917To their adoring public, Avi Kumar and Trishna Chaudhury are Bollywood’s sweethearts. Behind closed doors, their open marriage lets them freely indulge in all manner of forbidden passions. The arrangement suits them both, but as they begin filming on the set of their new movie, the heat of new and rekindled flames singes the pages of what they thought would be a fresh script.

When costars Michael Gill and Harsh Mathur arrive on set, the sexual temperature goes up exponentially—at least for Trish. She can’t take her eyes off Harsh, for whom she’s carried a torch for years. Avi’s instant attraction to Michael, however, bounces off Michael’s solid wall of resistance.

Meanwhile, ex-boyfriends Vikram Malhotra and Sam Khanna, cast as fictional enemies, are finding it harder and harder to control the very real demons that once cost them the love of a lifetime.


Avi and Trishna are the darlings of Bollywood, a married couple that can do no wrong. Few know, however, that their marriage is an open one and that they both pine for someone else. While shooting their newest film they, and a bunch of other people, find that love and angst are forever intertwined.

The plot of this novella is, like the relationships, a bit tangled. The first part covers Avi and Trishna but the second veers off and follows two other actors as they do their thing. Instead of a main story with a sub arc it’s two mini arcs that happen one after the other. If the work were longer, with a string of linked short stories about all different cast and crew romances instead of just the two, it may have hung together better.

I normally don’t do mega drama or angst but with the outsized personalities and Bollywood backdrop it tipped just over into ridiculousness, in a good way. There’s a reforming druggie, people coming to terms with their sexuality, and knock down drag out fights that end with hot make up sex. Everything’s big, loud, and in Technicolor.

One thing that bothered me throughout was the use of Hindi right next to its translation in the middle of dialogue.

You would still have to stay quiet, live your lives just for tum dono, for the two of you. So, kya farak hain? What’s the difference?

I realize that Snyder probably wanted to get the Hindi in there, but the repeating is so unnatural it took me out of the story. I think having the characters code switch naturally, untranslated, would have worked better. That or adding translations outside of the spoken dialog for short phrases. This was a bit much.

This novella was just okay, but it still kept me reading until the end.