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March 6, 2021

My Rating - 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher - Notion Press
Genre - Romance Fiction
Publishing year - 2020
Language - English
ISBN - 978-1-63633-664-0
Pages - 344

My Review - 

Retrace Love is Malini Amaladoss's debut book. The plot revolves around two best friends, Tina and Meghna, and their love lives. I read romantic fiction after a long time, and I'm glad that this love story is not the typical one I read in the past. 

Tina and Meghna were inseparable in college. They both fall in love on the same day and share a bond stronger than siblings. Tina met Ray, who is a doctor, and Meghna falls for Neil, an architect. Their love life is blossoming. Meghna looking forward to marrying Neil while Tina starts her internship in a media house. 

The story has a past-present narrative where Meghna meets with a horrible accident in Canada, and her doctors reached Tina in the USA. They separate their ways a decade ago over an argument. Now, Tina is getting multiple life-altering news about Meghna's family. Her lost love Dr. Ray comes into the picture when she ought to take a trip to India to find Meghna's letters which are left for Tina. 

What were in those letters? Why does Meghna want Tina to take care of her family? Why Tina and Ray broke up? Why is Neil not with Meghna in the hospital? These are the questions that you'll find after reading the book.

Main Characters Analysis - 

This section contains some spoilers, so please skip this part and hop onto the last one if you're planning to read this book. 

Tina - An ambitious and only child; she has liberal views, and her spontaneous behavior made her more attractive. The author describes her as a beautiful and sensuous woman by whom every other girl feels resentful and insecure. For her, loving someone doesn't mean that they have to marry. She is more focused on building her career, and that's why she chooses to avoid having a conversation with Ray while working on a story related to his family. 

Tina's problem is that she felt Ray didn't trust her by not disclosing a patient's story. She wants to listen to want she wants instead of understanding what the other person is trying to say. This behavior of her leads to the argument between Meghna and her as well. After spending 10 years alone and sad, she realizes her mistakes when a tragedy hits and starts feeling guilty about not be in touch with Meghna, which portrays the ego part. 

When she first goes to Ray's house, she realizes that he is the son of a famous surgeon who owns a hospital and apprehends how wealthy Ray is; here my mind goes, like, are you stupid or what, Tina? The first time you go on a date, he came with a Ferrari, like a god damn FERRARI. She seems so ignorant in many places.

Tina was prone to compliments and special attention; it shows clearly when she was in a relationship with Ray. I feel that no matter how strong she shows but deep inside, she was lonely and insecure. Ray was her first love, and I don't think subconsciously she was ready to commit to a long-lasting relationship. She didn't know that it would hurt her that much, and she left with a lifeless heart. 

When Kartik comes into the picture, she said yes to a platonic connection and moved to the USA. She wants everything new, but in a broad sense, she was running away from reality. Moving on is indeed good but what Tina did is not healthy. Living in a relationship for 10 years where there is no love is beyond absurd, and I didn't expect this from a girl like Tina. Her character actually starts growing when she took a trip to India. 

Meghna - She's also the only child and not much into progressive means of living. She felt lucky that a girl like Tina is her best friend. Unlike Tina, the author never mentions Meghna's interest in journalism. Her story directly jumps to marriage after college. When she was with Neil, they share intimate moments, but sex is after the wedding; it was her policy. When Tina told her about her sexual relationship with Ray, she freaks out and behaves like a parent. 

She was not ambitious at all. After marriage, she spent time cleaning, cooking, or at kitty parties. She decides to get pregnant so she won't feel lonely when Neil goes on work trips. I mean, is she for real? Then after her broken sacrament, Meghna decides to become a doctor. The author mentioned only once that it was her dream; if it was, why did she study journalism? Meghna's character is confusing, naive, and univocal.

She didn't even tell her parents about Neil's infidelity and pretended to continue the long-distance relationship. She seems to be someone like Tina, who is fierce, and she wants the same for her daughter, Pari. I may have my problems with this character, but she shows tremendous courage after leaving Neil, and I hoped that she discovers that about herself, which she didn't. The story's main POV is by Tina, and I guess it snatched Meghna's chances to shine in many ways. 

Ray Dubey - A hot doctor who falls in love instantly and innocently asks Tina to marry him because they had sex. My first impression of him was that he would turn out to be a spoilt brat, but he didn't. He loved Tina with all his heart and worships her. Ray is as ambitious as Tina. Most couples will part ways and start fighting if something is related to their parents is showing on a news channel in a bad spotlight. But Ray's reaction was phenomenal and professional; he never accuses Tina of anything. That shows his maturity level, and he always wanted to keep his professional and personal life separate. He chooses his ethics over Tina, for which I have mixed feelings. 

Neil - He is an architect that looks like a Calvin Klein model. He didn't get much space in the story but portrays a significant role. Neil never forced Meghna for sex before or after marriage. But he is far from perfect. Neil chooses to cheat Meghna instead of talking about his sexual fantasies. He seeks redemption and never married again, proving how much he loved Meghna. But does he? His character exhibits several emotions, and as a reader, it's hard for me to hate him, but I don't want to glorify him also.

The commonality between the characters - 

1. They all have grey areas. 
2. Tina and Meghna were single children, and the author didn't mention any siblings of Neil and Ray, so I'm assuming that they fall in the same category.
3. All of them are good-looking. 
4. None of the characters' parents object or interfere in their kids' lives.

A few other characters come here and there in the story, which I'm not revealing here. 

Does this book touch any social issue?
Yes, there is a mention of depression, hallucination, a drinking problem, and most importantly, compulsive sexual behavior, also known as hypersexuality disorder.

Who should read this book and who shouldn't?
If you enjoy reading romance fiction, give this book a try. This novel contains erotic scenes, so if you're a teenager, avoid reading it. 

Final verdict - 
Malini Amaladoss creates a perfectly imperfect love story representing different phases and aspects of life, love, marriage, and friendship. I have some technical issues, or one can say unanswered questions about a few things which I don't like. Apart from this, I found one or two spelling errors that are avoidable. The language is pretty straightforward, and one can finish this book in a day or two efficiently. Overall, it's a good book, and I recommend it.

Grab your copy from - Amazon IN Amazon US

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