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Married in Deceit by Shilpa Suraj

My take on the book:

Veda Gadde, renowned Bharatanatyam dancer and daughter of Media Moghul Chaitanya Gadde always had a crush on Agastya Kodela, IT Minister and elder son of the Chief Minister. Veda and Agastya’s sister Priyanka are best friends which meant Veda moved in the same social circles and attended the events as Agastya and though she openly showed her admiration for him, Agastya always maintained a serious exterior and cared for his family and their political legacy than Veda’s interest in him.

When Veda’s father ran a sensational news-op about Agastya’s father misusing the funds raised for Pandemic relief, Agastya decides that he needs control on the news being churned by Chaitanya Gadde as this is not the first time this news channel tried to demolish Kodela family’s political interests; if ignored, these false news articles might bring down his father’s political career and their party’s future.

Agastya thinks marrying Veda is the ultimate solution to control her father; Chaitanya will not risk ruining his daughter’s marriage for the sake of his news channel. When this marriage is proposed, Chaitanya is happy with the alliance as it is common knowledge that Agastya is planning his political career to be the future Prime Minister. Veda is thrilled that she can finally have the man she loved all her life, as her partner.

But will this marriage ever bring happiness to Veda? Will she be able to forgive Agastya if she realizes she is a pawn in the rivalry of their families, forms the rest of the story.

Married in Deceit is the second book in the Dynasty Rebels series after Married in Hate . While the first book was about Priyanka Kodela and her marriage with Aarush, the second book is about the elder Kodela sibling Agastya. Agastya who played the perfect elder brother to Priyanka in book one returns as the protagonist and Veda who was introduced earlier as Priyanka’s best friend returns as Agastya’s wife in book two.

Like book one, the second book in the series also runs around the Kodela family, their political ambitions and though Agastya and his father are honest and live by their values and principles, this book highlights how they like to stay ahead in the race. The story captures contemporary politics and how media circus makes innocents culprits in public eye before proven guilty in the court of law.

Online forums spreading rumors, political parties countering corruption allegations with press meets and show of people power, anyone with a camera phone acting as a journalist and making viral videos — the high voltage drama that is happening in media in current times is well weaved by the author into the narrative. The USP of the story is the fast-paced narrative that will captivate the reader till the end. This is hands-down the only book I read without a break in recent times.

The characters of Agastya and Veda are as contrasting as it can get — Agastya has always lived a life that benefitted his family’s political ambitions even if meant he never got to live a normal life. Veda though brought up among ruthless men had only love to spread to everyone she met. Agastya the smart politician who got everything he ever eyed for, while Veda the people pleaser will sacrifice anything for the happiness of others.

I liked how the author showed the slow transition of Agastya over the timeline of the story and how the two contrasting personalities within him are portrayed — the one meant for the public and his political career and the other meant only for the most intimate bonds like his wife. Veda’s character also gets her due when she stands up to her Guruma. I could also relate to Veda at many levels as she is realistic in her behavior or the compromises that she makes like any average girl.

However, when compared to the first book in the series, this one pales a bit, especially since Priyanka and Aarush had a solid backstory and character development. Veda’s penchant to be the not-so-feisty person could have been established better, in my opinion. Also, the closing sequence is almost like the climax in book one and so are few other sequences which feel repetitive for those who read book one. The actual intention of this marriage trying to use Veda as collateral by Agastya against her father could have been explored more.

The third book in the series promises to explore the story of the third and coolest Kodela sibling Harsh and the sharp-tongued Raashi which I am eagerly looking forward to.

Pick this one to read a contemporary romance of contrasting personalities that is laced with political undertones.

My rating: