Title: A Change of Heart
Author: Sonali Dev
Release Date: September 27, 2016
There’s no nice way to put it—Dr. Nikhil Joshi is a mess. Ever since his beloved wife, Jen, was murdered in the slums of Bombay, he hasn’t been able to pull his life back together. He spends his days drinking, barely functioning, and considering putting an end to his misery. But when he meets Jess Koirala, he can’t help but be startled by things she knows. Things about Jen. Is it possible that, as Jess claims, she received Jen’s heart in a transplant, and Jen has reached out to Nic from beyond the grave?
On the surface, A Change of Heart appears to be a sweet romance novel about two people who have been to hell and back finding one another. It’s clear from the beginning that both Jess and Nic have faced their share of tragedy. Nic wears his heart on his sleeve—he hasn’t been able to get over Jen’s death. More than that, though, he hasn’t been trying. He’s so comfortable wrapped in his blanket of despair that he’s content to stay there forever. It’s too hard to begin living again, so instead he dies a little more each day.
Jess, on the other hand, has a much murkier past. We don’t know exactly what she’s faced in A Change of Heart, but it’s clear that it isn’t good. Why is she doing this? Why has she tracked Nic down? What was her relationship with Jen? Question after question surrounds Jess, and Dev does an exceptional job keeping the mystery swirling about her. Every time one of the reader’s questions is answered, more surface. Her motivations might be easy to question, but it’s much harder to question Jess as a person. She’s damaged, she’s been through so much, and the reader wants, most of all, for her to find some solace.
Once the reader begins to dig into A Change of Heart, it becomes clear that this isn’t as bright and shiny of a novel as one might have predicted from the gorgeous cover. There is darkness here. Dev chose to use this novel to discuss the problem of organ trafficking in the slums of India; that’s what Jen was investigating when she was killed. Indeed, this novel isn’t afraid to examine many of the issues the poor in India face, how they have so few options and are desperate to merely survive.
Sonali Dev is a bright light in the romance novel world; I’ve enjoyed every one of her novels, and especially appreciated how different they are from one another. If you haven’t given her novels a chance, I can’t recommend them highly enough. They all have incredibly rich characters, layered and flawed, and are wonderfully engaging novels. A Change of Heart is no exception; as long as Sonali Dev keeps writing, I’ll be reading.