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The Secret Keeper of Jaipur

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It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr. Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema. Malik soon finds that not much has ch It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr. Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema. Malik soon finds that not much has changed as he navigates the Pink City of his childhood. Power and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favors flow from Jaipur’s Royal Palace, but only if certain secrets remain buried. When the cinema’s balcony tragically collapses on opening night, blame is placed where it is convenient. But Malik suspects something far darker and sets out to uncover the truth. As a former street child, he always knew to keep his own counsel; it’s a lesson that will serve him as he untangles a web of lies. In New York Times bestselling author Alka Joshi’s intriguing new novel, henna artist Lakshmi arranges for her protégé, Malik, to intern at the Jaipur Palace in this tale rich in character, atmosphere, and lavish storytelling.


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It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr. Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema. Malik soon finds that not much has ch It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr. Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaves to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema. Malik soon finds that not much has changed as he navigates the Pink City of his childhood. Power and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favors flow from Jaipur’s Royal Palace, but only if certain secrets remain buried. When the cinema’s balcony tragically collapses on opening night, blame is placed where it is convenient. But Malik suspects something far darker and sets out to uncover the truth. As a former street child, he always knew to keep his own counsel; it’s a lesson that will serve him as he untangles a web of lies. In New York Times bestselling author Alka Joshi’s intriguing new novel, henna artist Lakshmi arranges for her protégé, Malik, to intern at the Jaipur Palace in this tale rich in character, atmosphere, and lavish storytelling.

30 review for The Secret Keeper of Jaipur

  1. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    the immersive quality of AJs storytelling is what i loved most about ‘the henna artist’ and what made me want to pick up this sequel. ‘the henna artist’ is wrapped up pretty nicely, so i was wondering what sort of direction this story would take, and its very much just a check-in with the characters. this isnt really a continuation of the previous novel, per se, but more of a glimpse into the lives of the characters and what they are doing 12 years after the events of the first book. yes, there the immersive quality of AJs storytelling is what i loved most about ‘the henna artist’ and what made me want to pick up this sequel. ‘the henna artist’ is wrapped up pretty nicely, so i was wondering what sort of direction this story would take, and its very much just a check-in with the characters. this isnt really a continuation of the previous novel, per se, but more of a glimpse into the lives of the characters and what they are doing 12 years after the events of the first book. yes, there is a little mystery/investigation plot regarding a collapsed balcony, but this novel is predominately about the characters. and the setting. oh, the setting. once again, i was immediately transported back to india in the 1960s. all of the descriptions about the clothing, jewellery, henna, food, buildings, and city made me wish i had a time machine. it just feels so tangible and i love that sort of power AJs writing has, as i could vividly see the characters living their lives. overall, i do appreciate another book revolving around this group of people, especially malik. he was such an adorable boy in ‘the henna artist,’ so it was really lovely seeing him grow and create a place for himself. the cast and atmosphere definitely have me wishing for a third book. ↠ 3.5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Regina

    Alka Joshi’s debut novel, 2020’s The Henna Artist, had the benefit of Ms. Reese Witherspoon shining her book club sunshine upon it, resulting in almost 80,000 ratings on Goodreads to date. Here’s hoping all those readers follow its characters to this second installment in a planned trilogy… even if a celebrity’s logo isn’t slapped on the front cover this time. What I loved most about The Henna Artist was its protagonist Lakshmi, who I found to be a wonderful example of a strong, independent, res Alka Joshi’s debut novel, 2020’s The Henna Artist, had the benefit of Ms. Reese Witherspoon shining her book club sunshine upon it, resulting in almost 80,000 ratings on Goodreads to date. Here’s hoping all those readers follow its characters to this second installment in a planned trilogy… even if a celebrity’s logo isn’t slapped on the front cover this time. What I loved most about The Henna Artist was its protagonist Lakshmi, who I found to be a wonderful example of a strong, independent, resilient woman. I was so pleased to discover that The Secret Keeper of Jaipur doesn’t shift its focus completely away from her, even if it picks up many years later and integrates the secondary character of Malik more prominently in its storyline. Don’t get me wrong, Malik is a treat. But for me Lakshmi is the bread and butter. I did find the action of this follow up to be more external and adventurous, as the characters here deal with gold smuggling and a scandal involving a collapsed theater. Fortunately, Joshi’s writing never makes any of this action feel too over the top. Readers just get easily swept away in the vibrant sights and sounds of late 1960s India. As I mentioned in my review for The Henna Artist, this trilogy has already been optioned for a TV series starring Freida Pinto that is being described as a lush production akin to an “Indian Downtown Abbey.” I look forward to that, along with the third and final book! I received a printed advance readers copy from Harlequin/Mira Books, which includes an index of characters, a glossary of terms, and even a few recipes. Those who might prefer the audiobook format can find both The Henna Artist and The Secret Keeper of Jaipur on the Hoopla library app for immediate download. Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/

  3. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Although I have never been to India, I love reading stories about its history, culture and customs. The Henna Artist, and now The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, both by Alka Joshi, truly added to any knowledge I had about this exotic country in a most delightful way! Positive points about this book: 1. Plot: corruption is incorporated into the story-lines involving gold smuggling and the mysterious collapse of the newly-built Royal Jewel Cinema, both inadvertently affecting the lives of the main charact Although I have never been to India, I love reading stories about its history, culture and customs. The Henna Artist, and now The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, both by Alka Joshi, truly added to any knowledge I had about this exotic country in a most delightful way! Positive points about this book: 1. Plot: corruption is incorporated into the story-lines involving gold smuggling and the mysterious collapse of the newly-built Royal Jewel Cinema, both inadvertently affecting the lives of the main characters as well as keeping me in suspense; 2. Characters: I loved the return of main character, Lakshmi, her assistant, Malik (now a 20-year old apprentice) and newcomer, Nimmi, a 23-year old tribal widow with two young children from the Himalayan region to the north. Other characters from The Henna Artist return as well, including my favorite, the feisty Dowager Maharani Indira; 3. Details: I could deeply visualize the graphic descriptions of the clothing and various settings, including Lakshmi's Healing Garden - many of the plants mentioned grow well in my own personal flower garden; 4. Audiobook: the 3 narrators are very realistic in their roles! Direction to a webpage is also included to view a map of 1955 India, list of characters, glossary, two essays about Indian gold and food, and two recipes; and, 5. Book Covers: the gorgeous cover designs of both books are breathtaking! The only teensy issue I had with this story was Malik's constant preoccupation with Sheela's body. Otherwise, I am really looking forward to Book #3!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    This was a fine continuation to the author's The Henna Artist. In it we meet once again, Lakshimi, the natural healer who is now married to Dr Jay Kumar. Lakshimi's protege, Malik has finished his private school education and is ready to embark on a career. He meets and falls in love with a mountain girl, Nimmi, who is a widow with two young children, who can't read or write. Lakshimi is somewhat disappointed in his choice, but comes to realize Malik is his own person. Meanwhile, there is a trage This was a fine continuation to the author's The Henna Artist. In it we meet once again, Lakshimi, the natural healer who is now married to Dr Jay Kumar. Lakshimi's protege, Malik has finished his private school education and is ready to embark on a career. He meets and falls in love with a mountain girl, Nimmi, who is a widow with two young children, who can't read or write. Lakshimi is somewhat disappointed in his choice, but comes to realize Malik is his own person. Meanwhile, there is a tragedy as the balcony of the new constructed Royal Jewel Theater flls to the ground and people are injured and killed. Malik had been hired at the Facilities Department, a part of the Royal Palace, so he is sent to assess the damages. He discovers something amiss, something he believes caused the tragic collapse of the balcony. He and his family are placed in danger as his discovery has several hidden agendas that involve the illegal transportation of gold, a much sought after commodity in India, and perhaps a very wealthy family in Jaipur. Will the guilty be punished or will all of this be swept away because of power and money? Once again, Alka Joshi has filled her story with vivid scenes of India, ones that encompass the beauty of the country as well as ones who show the poverty and class structure that seems to still be in effect. Her words transport the reader into the sounds and smells of the Indian culture and even includes some recipes at the end for the Indian foods she incorporates into the book. I very much enjoyed this second book in The Henna Artist series, and hope to read more of this family and its love and care for one another. A definite recommendation for this one. Thank you to Alka Joshi, Mira Books, and NetGalley for a copy of this story due out June 22, 2021.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook…Hoopla download…. Narrated by Snha Mathan, Ariyan Kassam, Deepa Samuel ….11 hours and 8 minutes [The Jaipur Trilogy Book 2] Author Alka Joshi….was born in the desert state of Rajasthan in India. She earned her BA from Stanford university and an MFA from California college of arts in San Francisco. Prior to writing “The Henna Artist”….. (a breakout-terrific-New York Times best seller….and Reese Witherspoon book club pick), Alka ran an advertising and marketing agency for 30 years. She has Audiobook…Hoopla download…. Narrated by Snha Mathan, Ariyan Kassam, Deepa Samuel ….11 hours and 8 minutes [The Jaipur Trilogy Book 2] Author Alka Joshi….was born in the desert state of Rajasthan in India. She earned her BA from Stanford university and an MFA from California college of arts in San Francisco. Prior to writing “The Henna Artist”….. (a breakout-terrific-New York Times best seller….and Reese Witherspoon book club pick), Alka ran an advertising and marketing agency for 30 years. She has spent time in France and Italy and currently lives with her husband on the coast in Northern California. I don’t commit to many trilogies….or series….but with Alka Joshi’s name on the book ….I didn’t hesitate….(even when I had no idea that having read “The Henna Artist” ‘was’ planned for a trilogy). Beauty illuminates throughout…. It’s intimate at once, and stylistically a ‘tour de force’. ( I rarely say that term about books)… but it possesses so multiple many layers of magnificence storytelling… …that I just don’t know how else to express it. Other than also say it’s a very engaging story - with both splendor and affliction. There is family…mystery…and even a little glorious romance. And of course it goes without saying it’s sensual in every sense-of-the-word…. with yummy foods, flowers, gardens, smells, culture, ambience & imagery, with imperfect captivating characters that charm us - move us - and contribute to our thoughts of justice: class, identity, and worthiness. “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur” is sultry…..perhaps even better than “The Henna Artist”……it’s a lushly woven tapestry for the many hopeful possibilities- from the past to the future…. NOTE…. Personally it took me a few minutes to feel committed to the audio-format, (I came close to switching to the ebook)…but then suddenly….I was hooked …enchanted with the voice-readers reaching into my soul reading Alka’s words. The one thing Alka Joshi could not have known when she wrote this novel, was about the horrific tragedy of the Florida Surfside building collapse….and that some of us readers were smack in the middle of grieving - (knowing friends and family still missing), ….when we came upon a balcony collapse - in a new Cinema theater - that Alka wrote into this story….[my body shivered for a few minutes]…. ….Lakshmi is the director of “The Lady Reading Healing Garden”, and is now married to the physician Dr. Jay Kumar. ….Malik is twenty years old…( having graduated from a prestigious Bishop Cotton School for Boys), is a new apprentice in the facility offices of the Jaipur Royal Palace. ….Nimmi is a widow with two small children. She falls in love with Malik. We learn about gold trafficking….and The Gold (Control) Act in 1968. I found the history so interesting — not knowing much about it - that I looked up more information on google. This story is dazzling, sparkling …powerful…and totally fresh. Alka Joshi’s strength is her mastery in *storytelling*- depicting our tender hearts. Highly recommended it to anyone who has a passion for the love and textures of India.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    "There are so many secrets in our world, aren't there?" After reading Book 1, The Henna Artist, I was looking forward to this book. Once again, I was transported to India with the author's storytelling. The writing is lyrical and vividly descriptive. The narration is fantastic. I really enjoyed the audiobook and highly recommend it. This story takes place 12 years from where Book 1 left off. We get to follow up on all the characters in the previous story. We're also introduced to a new character, "There are so many secrets in our world, aren't there?" After reading Book 1, The Henna Artist, I was looking forward to this book. Once again, I was transported to India with the author's storytelling. The writing is lyrical and vividly descriptive. The narration is fantastic. I really enjoyed the audiobook and highly recommend it. This story takes place 12 years from where Book 1 left off. We get to follow up on all the characters in the previous story. We're also introduced to a new character, Nimmi. She's a brave woman who's the mother of two young children and Malik's love interest. It's 1969 in India, and secrets abound around all the characters. Some secrets you hope will be uncovered, others you hope won't. This is a great story about family, loyalty, and new beginnings. I'm now looking forward to Book 3! For a map, list of characters, and recipes: Visit www.harpercollins.com/audio/thesecretkeeperofjaipur

  7. 4 out of 5

    Provin Martin

    Oh how I did not want this book to end – now I sit eagerly awaiting the third book in the series!! I really hope this series is picked up for film or TV. 🥰 It is 1969 and 12 years have passed since our introduction to Lakshmi in The Henna Artist. Lakshmi and Dr. Jay are married and working together at their hospital in Shimla. Malik is out of boarding school and working on his future. He has met a beautiful young widow (Nimmi) with two children who he wishes to marry. Lakshmi and Dr. Jay invite N Oh how I did not want this book to end – now I sit eagerly awaiting the third book in the series!! I really hope this series is picked up for film or TV. 🥰 It is 1969 and 12 years have passed since our introduction to Lakshmi in The Henna Artist. Lakshmi and Dr. Jay are married and working together at their hospital in Shimla. Malik is out of boarding school and working on his future. He has met a beautiful young widow (Nimmi) with two children who he wishes to marry. Lakshmi and Dr. Jay invite Nimmi to come work at the hospital herb garden (which is how Lakshmi got her start at the hospital). One day several children show up at the clinic with an ‘uniquely’ injured sheep. Nimmi not only recognizes the sheep‘s wound as a gold smugglers hiding place, but she also recognizes the tattoo in the sheep‘s ear as one of her brothers flock. She and the children leave immediately to help her brother. Meanwhile, Malik now works with Ravi on his new construction/architectural projects. Ravi has built a huge new theater similar to the ones in the United States. During the intermission of the first show at the Royal Jewel Cinema, the balcony comes crashing down. Were shortcuts taken during the construction of the new theater? Another beautifully written work of art that sweeps the reader away to the sounds, sights and smells of India. Filled with a beautiful storyline, mysterious plot and well written characters, this book is sure to become another favorite!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zoya

    UPDATE: 18/06/2021 This review will contain spoilers for ‘The Henna Artist’ Alka Joshi has officially become an instant-buy author for me. I adore her writing and I love her characters. I’d like to thank Harper Collins for sending me an ARC of The Secret Keeper of Jaipur! Set twelve years after the events of The Henna Artist, this installment follows three protagonists. We encounter Lakshmi once again, we meet a new character, a young tribal woman named Nimmi and of course my most beloved character UPDATE: 18/06/2021 This review will contain spoilers for ‘The Henna Artist’ Alka Joshi has officially become an instant-buy author for me. I adore her writing and I love her characters. I’d like to thank Harper Collins for sending me an ARC of The Secret Keeper of Jaipur! Set twelve years after the events of The Henna Artist, this installment follows three protagonists. We encounter Lakshmi once again, we meet a new character, a young tribal woman named Nimmi and of course my most beloved character from the first book, Malik. Set in the towns of Shimla and Jaipur, Alka weaves a mystery that connects our three characters from across the states, from snow to sand, from person to person. Each idea ties in perfectly with the next, making it a pleasurable experience to solve. All the threads come together perfectly. While it isn’t necessary to read the first book before picking up this one, I would highly recommend it. Having read The Henna Artist provides depth to the characters that the reader will be unable to experience. ‘The Secret Keeper of Jaipur’ sucked me in almost immediately. Contemporary fiction usually takes me a few chapters to get involved and interested in, but within the first few chapters of this book, I was engrossed in knowing how the characters had grown, what they were doing, how their lives had progressed. The writing remains soft and simple which is wonderful because you get to focus on the intrigue of the plot and the journey of the characters. The narration is able to create vivid imagery and the descriptions are almost visceral yet softened by the simplicity of the writing. “Pearl and ruby bangles, now too large for her thin arms, threaten to slide off her wrists. “ It’s one of my greatest fears that Indian authors brought up in America or who live in America will try and appropriate Indian culture in their writing. One of the prime examples for me was a show that came out on Netflix called ‘Never Have I Ever’ or a book that came out earlier this year titled ‘Cast in Firelight’. But all of Alka’s writing is well researched. You can tell that she takes the time to do the research regarding Indian culture that she might be unaware of, and she mentions as much in her book. The customs of Nimmi’s tribe are brought to the front with tact, she researches the construction techniques that would have been used in 1960’s North India, she researches smuggling in India. All of it is well thought out. Where The Henna Artist spoke about poignant topics regarding domestic abuse and the slow climb out of poverty, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur explores relinquishing emotional custody of someone you have raised as a child, friendships between women who might once consider each other rivals, and affairs and sex. This book depicts Alka’s range. What I really loved though aside from the way the plot tied together and the narrative style, were the characters. I really enjoyed seeing Lakshmi again! While the romance between Malik and Nimmi was negligible, I enjoyed the romance between them. It was barely there, and yet there was something soft and safe about it. At the same time, Lakshmi is now married to the handsome Doctor Jay from the previous book and yet we experience angst within her well-established romance, what with the reappearances of old flames and doubts. It was interesting to see how all the relationships evolved towards the end and how all the old relationships from the first book tie into this one. Range, range, range! All in all, I loved this book, and while I have mulled over it I can’t honestly decide which of the two I like better. Perhaps a reread is in order. Spoilers will be added to this review on June 29th! The Secret Keeper of Jaipur will be available to purchase on June 22nd! Update (06/06/2021): Brilliant. Absolutely freaking brilliant. Alka Joshi is now an instant-buy author for me. A spoiler-free to review to follow in this coming week and a complete review ripe with spoilers to follow one week after public release. Update: I absolutely cannot wait for Malik's story! Counting down days...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    I listened to The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi on audiobook. It was brilliantly narrated by Sneha Mathan, Ariyan Kassam and Deepa Samuel. Their voices and interpretations of the characters really brought this book to life. I remember how impressed I was with Alka Joshi’s debut novel, The Henna Artist. At the time, I was not aware, or simply forgot, that The Henna Artist was the first book in a trilogy that the author planned to write. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur was written as the secon I listened to The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi on audiobook. It was brilliantly narrated by Sneha Mathan, Ariyan Kassam and Deepa Samuel. Their voices and interpretations of the characters really brought this book to life. I remember how impressed I was with Alka Joshi’s debut novel, The Henna Artist. At the time, I was not aware, or simply forgot, that The Henna Artist was the first book in a trilogy that the author planned to write. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur was written as the second book in this trilogy. It portrayed Malik, Lakshmi’s trusted and loyal assistant. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur was Malik’s story just as The Henna Artist was Lakshmi’s story. Many of the characters in The Henna Artist once again found their way onto the pages and into the intricate plot of The Secret Keeper of Jaipur along with a few new ones. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur picked up twelve years after The Henna Artist left off. Alka Joshi cleverly transported the setting from Jaipur to Shimla, nestled among the Himalaya Mountains. Greeted with new sights, fragrances, sounds and cultures, Shimla and that part of India were easily identifiable and vivid. The recording of this audiobook was a little over eleven hours. It was fast paced, intriguing and suspenseful and I did not want it to end. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur immediately revealed that a tragedy of catastrophic magnitude had occurred at The Royal Palace Cinema on opening night. There had been so much hype and excitement for the grand opening of the Royal Jewel Cinema in Jaipur. Everyone that could attend its opening was there. Among the guests was Malik, Lakshmi’s young assistant, now grown up and a man of twenty years of age. He had been commissioned as an apprentice to the Singh-Sharm Construction Company. Malik had completed his schooling and had graduated from Bishops Cotton School for Boys and was not sure what he wanted to do with his life. He had recently met Nimmi, a beautiful young widow with two young children. Malik liked Nimmi a lot. He had been living with Lakshmi and her husband, Dr. Jay Kumar in Shimla, when Lakshmi arranged this apprenticeship for Malik. Was Lakshmi just trying to help Malik with a career choice or was she trying to put distance between Malik and Nimmi? In either case, Malik traveled to Jaipur and began his apprenticeship. Malik would never go against Lakshmi’s wishes. Although he wanted to remain in Shimla with Nimmi, Malik traveled to Jaipur as Lakshmi had wanted. Almost immediately, Malik found himself fully involved with some of the aspects of the construction of the Royal Jewel Cinema. It had been carefully constructed by the Singh-Sharm Construction Company and meticulously checked and oversaw by Manu Agarwal, Lakshmi’s good friend’s Kanta’s husband. After the balcony tragically collapsed on opening night, killing two and injuring many, all eyes were cast upon Manu, since he was the main engineer and signed off on all the materials used to build the cinema. Malik has his own suspicions though. An investigation was started and the evidence was piling up against Manu and all fingers were pointing at Manu as the person responsible for this tragedy. When Lakshmi heard about what had happened, she did not hesitate and traveled to Jaipur to try and help Manu and Malik. Would Lakshmi and Malik be able to gather enough evidence to clear Manu’s name and reputation and find out what really caused the balcony of the Royal Jewel Cinema to collapse? Woven between Lakshmi’s and Malik’s search for the truth about the collapse of the balcony, a beautiful love story between Malik and Nimmi was starting to develop. There was also the subplot of gold smuggling that emerged within the pages of The Secret Keeper of Jaipur. Gold smuggling became more prevalent after the Gold Act was enacted in India. Nimmi discovered that her brother had been involved in smuggling gold. She found him close to death on a mountainside with bricks laden with gold sewn in the wool of his flock of sheep. Just before Nimmi’s brother took his last breath he directed her to a piece of paper with a name on it. Nimmi knew immediately that the bricks that were hidden in the wool of his flock of sheep and were hiding quantities of gold and had to be delivered to their next destination so that nothing bad would happen to her brother’s family. Lakshmi and her husband, Jay, helped Nimmi accomplish this very dangerous and complicated act. Could Nimmi and Lakshmi discover who was the mastermind behind the smuggling of gold in and around Shimla? It was hard for both Malik and Lakshmi to return to Jaipur. They were met with ghosts of the past. Strong class differences still existed. Old grudges and bad feelings were hard to forget. Temptations were present. Obstacles still existed and old alliances hadn’t faded. Secrets were still kept but would they be revealed? I loved The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi as much as The Henna Artist or if possible even more. Alka Joshi has written not one but two five star books. I look forward to the next installment in this trilogy which I believe will be about Radha, Lakshmi’s younger sister and will be published sometime in 2022. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur can be read as a stand alone book but I would recommend reading The Henna Artist first. I highly recommend this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Allison Faught

    4 ⭐️! I thought this was an incredible follow up to The Henna Artist and was excited to see that Malik had more of a focus in this book than last. He was my favorite character in The Henna Artist so it was neat hearing his own story. I thought the few new characters were great additions as well! I learned so much about women of the Himalayans. I love a book that can truly teach me something. Minor complaints: I wish Nimmi and Malik’s relationship was a bit more built out before Malik left for Jai 4 ⭐️! I thought this was an incredible follow up to The Henna Artist and was excited to see that Malik had more of a focus in this book than last. He was my favorite character in The Henna Artist so it was neat hearing his own story. I thought the few new characters were great additions as well! I learned so much about women of the Himalayans. I love a book that can truly teach me something. Minor complaints: I wish Nimmi and Malik’s relationship was a bit more built out before Malik left for Jaipur. It seemed a bit forced and rushed to appreciate their love story. There were a few portions of this story that made me question Malik’s choices and character. For him being a main protagonist, his downfalls definitely disappointed me. All in all great story with imagery that takes you to a new place!

  11. 5 out of 5

    MicheleReader

    Alka Joshi’s beautiful and lush new book, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, is book #2 following last year’s wonderful debut, The Henna Artist. While this latest book serves well as a standalone, I would recommend reading book #1 first so you can get the backstories of its characters in more depth. When the book begins, it is 1969, twelve years after the last book ended. Everyone in Jaipur is celebrating the opening of a spectacular movie house, commissioned by the palace. During its opening night, t Alka Joshi’s beautiful and lush new book, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, is book #2 following last year’s wonderful debut, The Henna Artist. While this latest book serves well as a standalone, I would recommend reading book #1 first so you can get the backstories of its characters in more depth. When the book begins, it is 1969, twelve years after the last book ended. Everyone in Jaipur is celebrating the opening of a spectacular movie house, commissioned by the palace. During its opening night, tragedy occurs as the balcony collapses. The story then goes back two months before the collapse to the town of Shimla, in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. Lakshmi, the former henna artist, is married. Malik, her ward, is now well educated and lives with Lakshmi and husband Dr. Jay Kumar. Fearing he is susceptible to the criminal activities of the area, including gold smuggling, Lakshmi arranges for Malik to return to Jaipur, the city where he was born, to learn about the construction business. While interning, he uncovers irregularities in the construction of the new Royal Jewel Cinema. At the beginning of the book, the author provides a list of all the characters and their descriptions. It seemed a daunting task to keep track of so many people. But the talented Joshi has written such an engaging book that every one of these fascinating characters fell perfectly into place. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur offers a fascinating look into so many different types of people from different levels of society in India - from the royal family to the tribal people who live in the mountains tending sheep. Lakshmi continues to be a pillar of strength to all and a very wise woman. Malik is an endearing character. He was an orphan, a street urchin and in this book, a responsible young man discovering himself and where he fits in given his humble beginnings. I highly recommend getting immersed in the writing of Alka Joshi. She has already revealed a third and final book in the series is forthcoming. Great news! Rated 4.5 stars. Review posted on MicheleReader.com.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I loved the cover of The Henna Artist, but the cover of Alka Joshi's follow up book is even more vibrant and beautiful than the first. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur picks up in 1969, 12 years after The Henna Artist, and it was easy to fall right back into step with these characters. This time the story is split between Malik's time in Jaipur as well as Nimmi's and Lakshmi's story in Shimla. This book revolves around a balcony collapse of a new Cinema theater in Jaipur and trying to find the root c I loved the cover of The Henna Artist, but the cover of Alka Joshi's follow up book is even more vibrant and beautiful than the first. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur picks up in 1969, 12 years after The Henna Artist, and it was easy to fall right back into step with these characters. This time the story is split between Malik's time in Jaipur as well as Nimmi's and Lakshmi's story in Shimla. This book revolves around a balcony collapse of a new Cinema theater in Jaipur and trying to find the root cause of this terrible accident, but it also introduces the reader to gold smuggling during this time period which I found interesting and led me to read more about The Gold Control Act of 1968. As with her first book, this one is rich with cultural references and vivid descriptions of the food which made my mouth water and had me craving Indian for dinner tonight. It felt good to be reunited with some of my favorite characters from the first book, especially Lakshmi, Malik and the Maharani Indira all of whom I adored in the first book. The introduction of Nimmi, another strong female character, and her back story added another layer to the story which I enjoyed. Joshi's writing is beautiful and eloquent, and I look forward to reading the third book. If you are considering the audiobook, the narration by Sneha Mathan, Ariyan Kassam and Deepa Samuel is fantastic. 4 stars.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Avani ✨

    4.5 stars Loved it more than the first book

  14. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    “The Henna Artist” was a wonderful glimpse into a part of Indian society in the 1950s, the restrictions faced by some women and the way that Lakshmi managed to independently navigate in that society working as a henna artist. I was really looking forward to this second book about Lakshmi. The focus of this book is split three ways, and that was one too many for me. In 1969, Lakshmi is married to the doctor she met in the first book. Her ward Malik is working as an apprentice at the Facilities Of “The Henna Artist” was a wonderful glimpse into a part of Indian society in the 1950s, the restrictions faced by some women and the way that Lakshmi managed to independently navigate in that society working as a henna artist. I was really looking forward to this second book about Lakshmi. The focus of this book is split three ways, and that was one too many for me. In 1969, Lakshmi is married to the doctor she met in the first book. Her ward Malik is working as an apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. The Palace has sponsored the construction of a movie theater that has a partial collapse on its opening night. Malik begins to suspect that the collapse was not due to overcrowding but to shoddy construction. Malik and Lakshmi try to prove his theory. This is a different view of India, the India of gold smuggling, bribery, corruption and privilege. I preferred the plot of the first book, but my larger problem was the third character whose point of view is presented. Malik is involved with Nimmi, a widow with 2 young children. I found her annoying and thought her presence was completely unnecessary to the book. This book might work as a standalone since the author repeatedly rehashes events from the first book. However, I suggest reading the first book because it is a better book and you might as well get the details as they were originally written. 3.5 stars

  15. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This is the second book in the series, and although I had not read 'The Henna Artist', this book could stand on its own easily. The story was told in several points of view, and gave a view of life in India with its rich culture and politics. The story involved sheep herding, architecture/building, and gold smuggling. It involves people from many stations in life from the royal maharanis, to middle class, to lower caste. There's definitely a mystery to be solved and the unwinding of the tale rev This is the second book in the series, and although I had not read 'The Henna Artist', this book could stand on its own easily. The story was told in several points of view, and gave a view of life in India with its rich culture and politics. The story involved sheep herding, architecture/building, and gold smuggling. It involves people from many stations in life from the royal maharanis, to middle class, to lower caste. There's definitely a mystery to be solved and the unwinding of the tale reveals hidden secrets and deception. The characters are rich and believable. I really liked Lakshmi who seemed to be trying to help everyone. I was impressed by Malik for his moral character and his intelligence and curiosity. I admired Nimmi for her strength and courage. I enjoyed this book and will try to pick up The Henna Artist and read that as well, to provide the background - I've heard good things about it. Thanks to Mira and HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing through Netgalley for an advance copy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    Oh how lovely it was to revisit the rich characters from The Henna Artist in Alka Joshi’s new novel The Secret Keeper of Jaipur. Lakshmi’s helper Malik is now 20 years old and apprenticing at the palace in Jaipur to learn the building trade. When an errant figure is found on a set of building invoices, Malik’s sharp mind knows there is more to this than a simple accounting mistake. His investigation leads him to revisit some old friends including Samir, Parvati and Ravi Singh from the earlier st Oh how lovely it was to revisit the rich characters from The Henna Artist in Alka Joshi’s new novel The Secret Keeper of Jaipur. Lakshmi’s helper Malik is now 20 years old and apprenticing at the palace in Jaipur to learn the building trade. When an errant figure is found on a set of building invoices, Malik’s sharp mind knows there is more to this than a simple accounting mistake. His investigation leads him to revisit some old friends including Samir, Parvati and Ravi Singh from the earlier story. In Shimla located in the Himalayas another story involving Lakshmi, the henna artist from the original story, plays out. Lakshmi now works out of a clinic with her husband Jay and overseas the healing garden on the property. She hires a tribal woman, Nimmi, who sells special flowers in the market stall to work with her in the healing garden. When two children come into the clinic with an injured sheep, Lakshmi and Nimmi set out on an adventure that may have connections to the mystery Malik is trying to puzzle out. I adored revisiting the characters from The Henna Artist and found they carried forward seamlessly. The tension in this book was moved up a notch from the previous book resulting in my wanting to get back to reading this book every time I had a few minutes. While I would call this a stand alone novel, it is enriched by having first read The Henna Artist as most of the characters are established there. Visiting a different part of the world through my reading and being invited to experience the culture, food, politics, and traditions is very special and I urge other readers to take this trip. Clever, warm and hearty, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is going to be a hit when it publishes June 22, 2021. Thank you to @_mira_books_ and @this_is_edelweiss for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Lakshmi still as engaging! The Henna Artist grabbed my attention from the get-go. Diving back into that world with the Secret Keeper did exactly the same thing but in an entirely different way. The tone has shifted, but the drama is just as heightened. We are treated to the ongoing lives of people met in Lakshmi’s story, including her former ward Malik, who is now a man. Lakshmi Kumar now lives in Shimla in the State of Himachal Pradesh, a northern state in the Himalayas and is married to Dr. Jay Lakshmi still as engaging! The Henna Artist grabbed my attention from the get-go. Diving back into that world with the Secret Keeper did exactly the same thing but in an entirely different way. The tone has shifted, but the drama is just as heightened. We are treated to the ongoing lives of people met in Lakshmi’s story, including her former ward Malik, who is now a man. Lakshmi Kumar now lives in Shimla in the State of Himachal Pradesh, a northern state in the Himalayas and is married to Dr. Jay Kumar, a physician at the Lady Reading Hospital and director of the Community Clinic. She is director of the Lady Reading Healing Garden, a herbal garden designed to collect and use indigenous healing plants the people of the region are able to identify with as a valid medicinal source and to serve as a bridge to further treatments the people might be suspicious of. The story opens with a heart stopping tragedy in Lakshmi’s former home of Jaipur that effects many of Lakshmi’s close friends, including her sister’s son’s adoptive family (an important secret!) and her ward Malik. As we are treated to the back story of events prior to this tragedy we become part of Malik’s journey to the now. He has moved to Jaipur apprenticed to the Facilities Office of the Palace working on a huge cinema has been with This includes the young hill’s widow (not that the Himalayas are mere hills!) Nimmi and her two children. There’s the fascinating and dangerous encounter with gold smugglers operating in the mountains and the implications of this, including the method of transport. Lakshmi ends up back in Jaipur and her past relationship with the maharanis becomes important. After all she was custodian of secrets as the Henna Artist. A satisfying read putting us in touch with the growth and development of these old friends There are just so many threads drawing me on. I was fully present! A Harlequin Trade ARC via NetGalley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Selene

    When I found this book, which picks up 12 years after The Henna Artist left off, I was eager to read it. The Henna Artist is a recent favorite of mine. The lives of Lakshmi, Malik, Dr. Kumar, and others continue, while new characters are introduced. When Malik returns to Jaipur to learn the building & design industry, he uncovers a secret that is sure to permanently alter the lives of the characters. In the meantime, he has left behind his new love, Nimmi, in Shimla, where he has been living, alo When I found this book, which picks up 12 years after The Henna Artist left off, I was eager to read it. The Henna Artist is a recent favorite of mine. The lives of Lakshmi, Malik, Dr. Kumar, and others continue, while new characters are introduced. When Malik returns to Jaipur to learn the building & design industry, he uncovers a secret that is sure to permanently alter the lives of the characters. In the meantime, he has left behind his new love, Nimmi, in Shimla, where he has been living, along with Lakshmi & her husband, Dr. Jay Kumar. In Shimla, gold-smuggling is pervasive, and is a threat to all those involved. I enjoyed becoming lost in the world of the characters, and there was just enough suspense to keep me invested in the story and characters. Even some of the characters whose integrity was questionable possessed admirable qualities. The vivid descriptions of clothing and food found in India provided a rich reading experience and enhanced the sense of time and place. Readers also might enjoy the definitions and recipes at the end of the book. Although this novel could be read on its own (the author references events from The Henna Artist), I highly recommend reading Henna first. Not only was it a fabulous read, but it will also add more depth to the reading experience of this novel. Thank you NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an advance e-book reader’s copy of this novel!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cya_all_day_dream_about_books

    All may seem well from the distance, now that Lakshmi is married to Dr. Jay Kumar, Radha is happily married and far away from scandal that might have rocked the city of Jaipur, and her child is in the best care with the adopted parents, Kanta and Manu. Malik is well educated and has been sent by Lakshmi to work in Jaipur for his better future with Manu. Lakshmi is working with her husband at his hospital. As for the elites of Jaipur, Singh and Sharma are renowned joint business with the marriage All may seem well from the distance, now that Lakshmi is married to Dr. Jay Kumar, Radha is happily married and far away from scandal that might have rocked the city of Jaipur, and her child is in the best care with the adopted parents, Kanta and Manu. Malik is well educated and has been sent by Lakshmi to work in Jaipur for his better future with Manu. Lakshmi is working with her husband at his hospital. As for the elites of Jaipur, Singh and Sharma are renowned joint business with the marriage of Ravi and Sheela. Country is moving ahead post independence. But trouble is brewing from inside, which no one is able to forsee, not even the closely related. In Jaipur amid the summer heat,Manu in collaboration with Singh Sharma have taken up the ambitious project of building a theatre that anyone has ever seen and Malik has been a part of the same, a dream that Maharani has been looking forward to. On the day of inauguration, a massive tragedy occurs which could jeopardize careers, family and even the innocents. While in the beautiful hills of Shimla, trouble hasn’t left Lakshmi yet. Something unknown that anyone has yet known, is being igniting slowly and it might have an influence on Lakshmi. While The Henna Artist focused on Laksmi’s life and how it changed with the influence of other people, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur goes ahead with a drama yet to be uncovered from within, and all the characters from Henna Artist are equally involved in this saga. Henna Artist did justice to every character with their backstory and personalities. Now it’s sequel goes into how their lives will be influenced due to external factors. Alka Joshi has done an amazing job yet again with her proficient writing skills.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eva K (journeyofthepages)

    The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi has been one of my anticipated reads of the year! I absolutely loved The Henna Artist and had extraordinarily high hopes for this one. That may not have been in my best interest; as you know what they say, expectation breeds disappointment.   To be clear, I was not disappointed with this one! It was just different.  Taking place more than ten years after The Henna Artist, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur continues the story of Malik - an absolute favorite chara The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi has been one of my anticipated reads of the year! I absolutely loved The Henna Artist and had extraordinarily high hopes for this one. That may not have been in my best interest; as you know what they say, expectation breeds disappointment.   To be clear, I was not disappointed with this one! It was just different.  Taking place more than ten years after The Henna Artist, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur continues the story of Malik - an absolute favorite character of many from book one. I adored him! His strong work ethic, honor, and fierce loyalty continue to define him as an adult.  This story focused on the corruption of money and power in society designed to maintain a hierarchical order. The historical and cultural elements of this book were wonderful, detailed and very interesting.  Overall, this is another beautiful novel by Alka Joshi.  Thank you, Libro.fm, for an advanced listeners copy of this book for review!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

    Got the book today 💖

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Wow! This book is incredible! It is engaging, intriguing, enthralling, gripping, rich in detail, and so much more! Whenever I picked up “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur”, I was whisked back in time to the late 1960s, and went on such an emotional journey with this story. This is the second book I have read by Alka Joshi, the first being “The Henna Artist”! Many characters and their stories from “The Henna Artist” continue in “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur”. However, I also believe this book can be rea Wow! This book is incredible! It is engaging, intriguing, enthralling, gripping, rich in detail, and so much more! Whenever I picked up “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur”, I was whisked back in time to the late 1960s, and went on such an emotional journey with this story. This is the second book I have read by Alka Joshi, the first being “The Henna Artist”! Many characters and their stories from “The Henna Artist” continue in “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur”. However, I also believe this book can be read as a stand-alone as well. Ms. Joshi’s writing style is incredibly visceral; each and every word and moment truly springs to life right off of the page. I truly felt like I was right there in India; the sights and sounds of each scene came to life right before my eyes. I feel like I learned so much about different cultures, ways of life, and much more. Furthermore, Ms. Joshi brilliantly connects and intertwines plot lines. Featured in this book are quite a few stories, all weaving with each other in one way or another. When a tragedy occurs as the new cinema theatre in Jaipur collapses, there are both those who will do anything to seek the truth, and those who wish to keep what really happened hidden. In another part of India, Nimmi, a widow with two children, has fallen in love with Malik, a young man who has traveled to Jaipur to be an apprentice. Nimmi is taken under the wing of Lakshmi and her husband, Dr. Jay Kumar, and they all soon find themselves unwillingly involved in dangerous activity. This book explores both class and caste structures, wealth and / or lack of it, expectations, gender, and all of this, as well as so much more. All of this truly makes this book very hard to put down.. If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book! It had me turning the pages to see what would happen next, and I can’t wait to read what Ms. Joshi writes next. Thank you so much to MIRA (Harper Collins) and Edelweiss + for the ARC of this book, it is incredible! All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bookoholiccafe

    The Secret Keeper of Jaipur was the one I was waiting for months to read since I loved The Hana Artist, and it was my 2020 top 10 books. I simply could not relate to the story. At the same time, I cant wait to read the third one. I have to add the narrators were amazing, however, I was not able to connect with the characters as much as I did in the first book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn in FL

    3.5 Rounded Up Stars on a Tough Act to follow. This is the second installment in the trilogy of The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi and her writing talent is on full display in her creating engaging characters, plotting and storyline. She touches on themes such as how we define family and the power of loyalty and honesty in the face of corruption and tragedy. A nice assessment of people's character when adversity strikes. Again, we see the cast of characters as in the first installment reimagined as th 3.5 Rounded Up Stars on a Tough Act to follow. This is the second installment in the trilogy of The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi and her writing talent is on full display in her creating engaging characters, plotting and storyline. She touches on themes such as how we define family and the power of loyalty and honesty in the face of corruption and tragedy. A nice assessment of people's character when adversity strikes. Again, we see the cast of characters as in the first installment reimagined as the story begins now 12 years later. Lakshmi is the main narrator, with Malik (her former assistant and foster child) also contributing greatly and as well a new character to this installment, Nimmi, who is navigating her life in a big city after growing up as a tribal nomad. Nimmi share her thoughts on her hesitancy to trust strangers and her interactions with Lakshmi once her connection and subsequent love relationship develops with Malik. Malik plays a more prominent roll in this one but Lakshmi (who I adore as well) is still very much a positive influence on the lives of all around her. The culture of India in the late 60's shines as Lakshmi begins to realize her dreams and India's participation in the world economy on an even grander scale is displayed. While I preferred the first installment greatly, Joshi continues to prove herself as an author to watch. Hindi words are sprinkled throughout the text to give it even greater authenticity, just as it had in the prior story. Don't let this stop you from reading the book as a large dictionary is provided in the back part of the book to clarify the context (unfortunately there were approximately 5 or so words missing but I could either ferret out the meaning or use Google). I read this while quite sick, so perhaps that diminished my pleasure and is due more stars? I still enjoyed it immensely and I do hope that film makers will take notice of this story series. I think it would easily translate to the big screen. Bollywood or Hollywood, this is seriously good literature and perhaps worthy of the funds for a feature film. I have always been obsessed with the Indian subcontinent pursuing any good fiction or nonfiction sources my entire adult life, be it in stories or film (unfortunately, certain things I would really like are sometimes hard to come by in the U.S.) despite my efforts. Hopefully, that will change in the near future?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sumedha the wordy habitat

    So I literally just finished this book and I have a couple opinions to share. For anyone who doesn't know, this is a sequel to The Henna Artist and stars mostly the same characters. Let me quickly talk about what I liked before moving onto dislikes: 1. The writing. It was just as good and immersive as The Henna Artist. 2. The characters. Overall they were good but not all were used well. Will explain in the next section. 3. The overall plot. I liked how the author tried something else here compa So I literally just finished this book and I have a couple opinions to share. For anyone who doesn't know, this is a sequel to The Henna Artist and stars mostly the same characters. Let me quickly talk about what I liked before moving onto dislikes: 1. The writing. It was just as good and immersive as The Henna Artist. 2. The characters. Overall they were good but not all were used well. Will explain in the next section. 3. The overall plot. I liked how the author tried something else here compared to The Henna Artist. This book was focused on plot, not characters. Now, onto the dislikes: 1. This was clearly a plot-driven book. I generally don't like this. A stark difference from THA which was character-driven. 2. I hated how quickly things got resolved in the end. The peak was not high after all the setup. 3. This book had three POVs but one was so clearly neglected. I didn't like that. Why add her POV at all then? It felt like the author just wanted to add some diversity. 4. Despite Lakshmi (from THA) not being the main character of this book, it felt like she was. She was smarter and better than everyone else. Hated that. The book's title is literally about Malik but he didn't do much compared to Lakshmi. Towards the end, her POV chapters were more than Malik! 5. The meaning of the title didn't click for me when the scene happened. Only later when I was like "why is it titled this way" did I realize. That wasn't done well. 6. You know what, it felt like the author just wanted to write about Lakshmi again. I was so happy when I realized that this book is about Malik, but Lakshmi took center stage again. Why even blurb this as Malik's book?? It was half-hearted towards him. So yeah, I was disappointed with The Secret Keeper of Jaipur. It was good but failed in some very key areas for me. Note: I received an ALC on @librofm in return for a review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)

    QUICK TAKE: I listened to both this book and THE HENNA ARTIST on audiobook, and I really enjoyed them both. This book takes place several years after the ending of THA, and follows Lakshmi in her new life working in the healing garden until she's pulled back into another Royal Palace controversy, this time involving her young protege, Malik, and a tragic accident. I really enjoyed the audio narration in this story and was captivated by the time and setting and characters. I would definitely read QUICK TAKE: I listened to both this book and THE HENNA ARTIST on audiobook, and I really enjoyed them both. This book takes place several years after the ending of THA, and follows Lakshmi in her new life working in the healing garden until she's pulled back into another Royal Palace controversy, this time involving her young protege, Malik, and a tragic accident. I really enjoyed the audio narration in this story and was captivated by the time and setting and characters. I would definitely read a 3rd book in this series (err..,listen to).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Salma19 (High Lady of the Dawn Court)

    *Noting the release date in my agenda*

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Metcalf

    Having met and enjoyed Lakshmi and her young protege Malik in The Henna Artist I was eager to read Alka Joshi's sequel The Secret Keeper of Jaipur.     The things I loved about the first book were once again evident; engaging storyline, a great setting and characters I thoroughly enjoyed.    Though it's a sequel I think it would work as a stand alone but I'd still urge you to start at the beginning of their story. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is set approximately twelve years after The Henna Artis Having met and enjoyed Lakshmi and her young protege Malik in The Henna Artist I was eager to read Alka Joshi's sequel The Secret Keeper of Jaipur.     The things I loved about the first book were once again evident; engaging storyline, a great setting and characters I thoroughly enjoyed.    Though it's a sequel I think it would work as a stand alone but I'd still urge you to start at the beginning of their story. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur is set approximately twelve years after The Henna Artist.  The chapters alternate between  Lakshmi and Malik two of my original favourites.    The prologue opens with Maliks perspective of the opening night disaster at the  Royal Jewel Cinema in Jaipur.     It then goes back by a couple of months and works forward from there.      Lakshmi is now married and Malik is a young man making his way in the world.  Their home in Shimla is at the foot of the Himalayas and Malik has met and begun seeing Nimmi, a Himalayan tribeswoman, widow, and mother to two young children.     When Lakshmi decides to send Malik back to Jaipur to get some experience in the building trade she insists it's to keep Malik from getting into strife in Shimla where there's an emerging gold smuggling trade.    However Nimmi is resentful, believing she's trying to keep them apart, perhaps hoping Malik will meet someone better while he's away. In Jaipur, Malik is working with many of the characters we knew from The Henna Artist and as the story unfolds we get a sense of how the disaster in the prologue might have eventuated.    Meanwhile back in Shimla, Lakshmi and Nimmi inadvertantly get caught up in the gold smuggling trade.   Both threads of the story came together well and tied off all the loose ends in a satisfying manner but I have a hunch there's room for another book in this series.   Perhaps that's just wishful thinking on my part but I'll keep my eyes and ears open just in case there's another on the horizon. My thanks to the author, to Harlequin Books and to NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review which it was my pleasure to provide.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kristine Mckenna

    Enjoyable. This is the Sequel to The Henna Artist. Interesting following the lives of the characters. Also, fascinating information about India and it’s cultural heritage. Reading about the delicious food makes me hungry. This book introduced the practice of smuggling gold into India, as it is so popular, but there is a limit on the amount an owner can buy. This I had never heard about. I liked this book, but did not become engrossed in it the way I did with The Henna Artist. The plot and charac Enjoyable. This is the Sequel to The Henna Artist. Interesting following the lives of the characters. Also, fascinating information about India and it’s cultural heritage. Reading about the delicious food makes me hungry. This book introduced the practice of smuggling gold into India, as it is so popular, but there is a limit on the amount an owner can buy. This I had never heard about. I liked this book, but did not become engrossed in it the way I did with The Henna Artist. The plot and characters were not as complex.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate Baxter

    After having been seduced by the cover art of this book, it didn't take long to fall deep within its pages. The writing is lovely and the scene settings are lush and atmospheric. The character development is thoughtful and well fleshed out. The story is riveting and captivating. Ms. Joshi has set this book in 1969 within cities of two states of India - Jaipur in Rajasthan and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, in the Himalayan foothills. She deftly weaves a tale through the voices of three characters o After having been seduced by the cover art of this book, it didn't take long to fall deep within its pages. The writing is lovely and the scene settings are lush and atmospheric. The character development is thoughtful and well fleshed out. The story is riveting and captivating. Ms. Joshi has set this book in 1969 within cities of two states of India - Jaipur in Rajasthan and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, in the Himalayan foothills. She deftly weaves a tale through the voices of three characters of differing cultures and classes. She portrays the unforeseen clashes which result when there is tension between the cultures. She also speaks to the clash between traditional Indian customs and the modern ways; struggles between and within families; integrity and honor versus the get-rich-schemes and its subterfuge. The gold smuggling trade plays a major role in this story as all three main characters, unintentionally, get wrapped up into it. It was most kind of Ms. Joshi to provide a fair amount of background information for the non-cognoscenti of Indian customs, language and food. I found the material fascinating and quite informative. The glossary of Indian terms and expressions was particularly helpful. This second book in series follows the great success of Ms. Joshi's, "The Henna Artist" (March, 2020) - a book which I will assuredly read too. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and commend it to you wholeheartedly.

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