WINDS OF FIRE
Adored and pampered by her parents, accustomed to the comforts of wealth, Sheetal Prasad has never questioned the Indian culture that governs her life, nor doubted her parents’ ability to provide for her happiness…until she falls in love with Arvind, a college classmate—then meets the man her parents have decreed that she marry.
Spoiled, multi-millionaire playboy Rakesh Dhanraj, CEO of Dhanraj & Son, proposes a merger of the two families that will elevate the Prasads into the ranks of India’s elite. While society hails the Dhanraj-Prasad union as the wedding of the decade, Sheetal begs her parents to call off the marriage. She argues that, as a modern woman, she should be free to work outside the home and marry for love, not be bound by outdated traditions. Threatened by her parents with poverty, shame and becoming an outcast, Sheetal relents and marries Rakesh.
After raping Sheetal on their wedding night, Rakesh abandons her in his family’s twenty-five-bedroom mansion. Because the Dhanrajs are far wealthier than the Prasads and Sheetal’s worth is judged according to her father’s status, Sheetal is treated like a servant.
Determined to escape Dhanraj tyranny, Sheetal searches for a way to dissolve her marriage. In the process, she uncovers family secrets that help her understand Rakesh but destroys any fledgling hope for security and happiness. Only now, she’s pregnant. In an effort to preserve his public façade, Rakesh promises to do anything Sheetal asks if she’ll stay in the marriage.
With her own Prasad family secrets coming to light, and Arvind having fled Raigun, Sheetal has no safe place to go if she leaves Rakesh. For the sake of her infant son, heir to the Dhanraj fortune, Sheetal abandons her plans for divorce.
Rakesh’s reputation now secure, but his business empire faltering, he turns to alcohol, affairs and frequent travel to avoid Sheetal and to concentrate on his company.
By the time Sheetal learns of Rakesh’s betrayals, the Dhanraj mansion has become a luxurious prison too dangerous in which to raise a child. Yet, even if she and her son flee the country, her celebrity status and Rakesh’s wealth almost guarantee that he’ll find her. But with Sheetal’s eight-year-old son displaying symptoms of PTSD, staying in the physically and emotionally abusive marriage is no longer an option. Their only hope for survival is to reject financial security in favor of freedom, even at the risk of losing their lives.
“Duty and Desire kept me captivated from the first sentence to the very end. An enticing Downton abbey-style saga, but set in India! I simply adored it and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. ” Barbara Bos, Managing Editor – www.booksbywomen.org
Women Writers, Women(‘s) Books
The debut in the Winds of Fire series, Duty and Desire, penned by Atlanta’s fiction author and freelance journalist Anju Gattani, explores the conflicts of an affluent female protagonist forced into an arranged marriage of convenience. She must battle her own misgivings to find her bearing to refine and define herself even as she feels bound by duty and fueled by desire.
The tale is set in the fictitious city of Raigun where preparations for a big fat Indian wedding are rife in anticipation of the glamorous merger of two of the cities’ most affluent families and their fortunes. Gattani’s leading lady, Sheetal Prasad, blessed with youth, beauty, wealth and education is forced to give up the love of her life, Aravind, and marry the handsome playboy millionaire Rakesh Dhanraj. As lies and deception underneath the comfortable white Fultons of Dhanraj Mansion are unearthed, Sheetal struggles with her sanity. With her family honor at stake, Sheetal gives it all to fulfil her duties as a daughter and daughter in law. But as a mother, she is forced to question where her loyalties lie and must make decisions that are in the best interest of her son.
– Jyothsna Hegde, City News Editor, NRI Pulse