Tuesday, January 14, 2014

VBT: Vegas to Varanasi

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?”

I met the kids’ father, Luke, in high school, and for a long time we were just good friends, although I’d always had a secret crush on him. He looked just like John Taylor from Duran Duran. Dressed like him, too, with his funky new wave clothes and big ’80s hair. He was gorgeous. Still is, in fact.
We were inseparable, and every weekend we’d go dancing at That’s Entertainment, a night club for people under twenty-one. Whenever I hear “Melt with You” on the radio, or smell clove cigarettes, I’m sixteen again on that packed dance floor with Luke.
All the girls loved him. In addition to his looks, he had that kind, sensitive thing going for him. Quiet and unassuming, but always with some pretty girl who idolized him.
I was just the opposite. There was nothing impressive about me in the looks department. Still isn’t. I’m kinda bony, shaped more like an adolescent boy, and have an ordinary face with a nose that’s a little too big for the rest of my features. But I had the “nice” thing going for me, too. I never had trouble making friends, probably because girls didn’t see me as a threat.
And boys? I had a few boyfriends here and there, but they weren’t exactly busting down my door. My problem was often the clueless oddball that followed me around like a puppy dog because I didn’t have the heart to tell him to get lost.
I remember one guy in particular. His name was Frank and he had albino white curly hair. We were on a bus ride to California for a school drama trip, and he had invited himself into the seat next to me. For nearly an hour he chattered my ear off, and in the course of that time briefly laid his head in my lap, made strange whinny noises like a horse (I didn’t quite get why he thought it was funny), and then pulled out a strand of my hair and put it in his wallet.
I wanted to scream, “Leave me alone, ya weirdo!” but couldn’t because he wasn’t a bad guy, just socially inept, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
Luke sat across the aisle one row up, watching the exchange with mild amusement, when I pleaded silently with him to help me. That was when he casually walked over and put a friendly hand on Frank’s shoulder. “Hey, buddy, I really need to talk to Anna about something. Do you mind?”
“Sure!” Frank was apparently thrilled that Luke referred to him as a buddy. “No problem whatsoever!” But before he moved to another seat, he had to do the mock punch to Luke’s arm.
“You are so mean!” I said to Luke, once Frank was out of earshot. “What took you so long?”
He just chuckled, put his arm around me and kissed the top of my head.
It wasn’t until college that we were officially a couple. Looking back, there were definite warning signs, even then, that Luke was gay, but they were subtle enough to be easily dismissed. For one, he always came up with some reason to break up with his numerous girlfriends. I guess I had fooled myself into believing it was because he had feelings for me, but he also seemed uneasy hanging out with the guys, like he didn’t really know how to act. He was very guarded.
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. So I did what any normal, twenty-two-year-old woman would do. I said yes when he asked me to marry him. And like two young, stupid people in total denial, we started a family right away.

Review Rating: 4 LIGHTNING BOLTS

Review: This is my second Shelly Hickman book, and another one that made me laugh, feel anger, feel frustration, feel happy....get what I'm getting at here? It made me feel. The emotions are real. The characters are well crafted to make them real to me. There's some issues, there's trials and tribulations, there's fun....All around I had a great time curled up with this book. I enjoy the author's style and how she can make me go from one mood to the other depending on what people in the book do.  Anna and Kiran are life like. Sometimes I understood them, other times I didn't. But hey, that's true to real life too! I don't understand myself at times! 

This is a good, light read that keeps you on your toes. I read it with in a few hours. Keeping Ms. Hickman on my to watch list! 

Author Bio:

Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly Hickman 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 applications and multimedia at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. Shelly lives with her husband, two children, and their dog, Frankie.

Connect with Shelly!

Twitter: @shellyhickman