Vegas to Varanasi
By- Shelly Hickman
published November 18th 2013
Anna has never been the beautiful one; she’s always been the nice one. So when the gorgeous man sitting across the table at a wedding reception remembers her from high school—and quite fondly at that—she’s taken off guard. Formerly overweight and unpopular, Kiran has never forgotten Anna, the one person who was kind to him when no one else could be bothered, and Anna’s a bit flustered as she slowly comes to grips with his intense attraction for her. In what feels like a romantic dream come true, all-grown-up, hunky Kiran invites Anna on a trip to Varanasi. But her troubled, whack-a-do ex-boyfriend starts interfering, creating drama at every turn, which begs the question, “Can nice girls really finish first?”
****4 ½ -Don't Drink the Water!- Stars****
this review contains minor spoilers
So when she meets devastatingly handsome Kiran at the wedding of a friends daughter, she's more than a little surprised and apprehensive when he takes an intense interest in her. Turns out, they went to high school together,
I can honestly say I've never met anyone in real life who was so arresting.
I feel flushed and touch my face.
He's not full of himself, and he genuinely seems to like me. Clearly, he has these idealistic memories of me which are far too much to live up to. I'm not Gandhi, for crying out load.
This was my introduction to Shelly Hickman and I was not disappointed. This book had a bit of everything in it- drama, tears, a bundle of giggles, some sexiness and a sweet romance. But most of all it was, well....real. The leads were both flawed and insecure, nothing had a quick fix and everyone suffered from issues that most of us face at some point in our lives or know someone who has. It made the story very relate-able.
Okay, I admit it. I am nice. Not perfect, but nice. I can be impatient, snarky, whiny, but I'm very uncomfortable making another person feel bad, even if they deserve it. Someone has to really push my limits before my nasty side shows itself. And when that happens, it's usually because they weren't being nice.
Anna has not had a whole lotta luck when it comes to the men in her life.
Her ex-husband and the father of her two, now-grown children, turned out to be gay....
Looking back, there were definite warning signs, even then, that Luke was Gay, but they were subtle enough to be easily dismissed...
...Unable to bear the thought of losing him, I told myself it was all in my imagination. After all, there was nothing overtly feminine about him.
And her current relationship is taking a nose-dive after five years due to alcohol....
“What's really bothersome here is that you're completely missing the point. This is not healthy. I'm worried about you. You look like you've been hit by a Train.”
….Despite David's claim he's going to turn things around, for some reason, I'm not all that optimistic.
“You don't remember me, do you?”
“From high school. You don't remember me.”
“I'm sorry, but Kiran isn't exactly a common name. I think I would remember... Wait. Now that I think about it, there was a Kiran in my English Lit class junior year, but he was this quiet, kind of pudgy...”
Kiran smiles and raises his eyebrows before nodding ever so slightly.
“You remember. You do remember me!”
“Oh, I didn't mean to call you pudgy!” I. Am. Mortified.
“It's okay, Anna. Actually, I was fat.”
Kiran spent most of his life being overweight, he only just lost it all and toned up quite nicely within the last few years. He remembers Anna as the only person in school to ever show him kindness and has nursed a little crush on her ever since. After running into each other a few times after the wedding they exchange numbers and decide to see where this friendship takes them. When Kiran gets the heartbreaking news that his Nana is dying, he plans a trip to India to visit with her while he can and offers Anna the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I want to know if you'll come with me. You said you've always wanted to see India. There would be no expectations, of course. I just... enjoy spending time with you. You're easy to be with, and I'd like you to come, so you can see Varanasi with someone who knows it.”
….I'm truly kidding myself if I think I'm going to accept this invitation and not end up in the sack with this beautiful, sweet man. If he is so inclined.
Despite the circumstances behind the trip, Kiran & Anna lose themselves to the romantic setting surrounding them. They both suffer insecurities and uncertainty but can't help but fall for each other.
“I like you. A lot.”
“No. there's no but. I just like you. A lot!”
“I have some pretty strong feelings for you, Anna, but I've been withholding them because I'm worried I'll scare you away. I made you nervous in the beginning, remember? Which is why I'm making every effort not to come on so strong.”
I'm dying to say, I'm ready to hear about those strong feelings! Lay 'em on me!
But what happens when they leave Varanasi behind and head back to reality, can they make it work in the day to day of the real world? When Anna'a ex takes a trip down unstable-lane, stirring up trouble at every turn, and an old flame from Kiran's past floats back into his life will they survive all the drama with their hearts in tact or will their insecurities be their downfall?
Despite all the layers of angst in this book, it was still surprisingly sweet. Your never overrun by the heaviness and there are always some laughs around the corner. If your looking for a nice, sweet romance with characters you feel like you know in real life, than this book is for you.
“Boy, heart has taken some serious beatings, hasn't it? We're gonna have to do some repair work.”
“So am I to understand that you'll be the one who does this repair work?”
“I just might.”
Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly has witnessed many changes in the city over the years. She graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Art in 1990, and in her early twenties worked as an illustrator for a contractor for the Nevada Test Site. In the mid-90s, she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in Elementary Education. She now teaches computer literacy and media technology at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. She lives with her husband, two children, and their dog, Frankie.