Alisha Rai knocks it out of the park in Girl Gone Viral, and this book more than deserves to go viral itself.
You may have heard a little to do a while ago about a romance author who went out on a first date and subsequently found herself Twitter-famous for a tweet about cake pops. You’ll be happy to know that Alisha Rai’s new release, Girl Gone Viral, isn’t meant to be autobiographical, but she probably has a better understanding of its heroine’s central debacle.
Katrina had a traumatic childhood. After losing her mother at a young age and living with a control freak, gas-lighting, abusive father/manager, she’s happy to put her modeling persona behind her and enjoy the delights of anonymity in adulthood.
So, when a chance encounter at her favorite local coffee shop hits the internet with force, Katrina looks to her most loyal bodyguard, Jasminder, to help her find a way to avoid the masses. And he is more than happy to do whatever it takes to keep her safe, even if that means returning to his childhood home and facing his entire family.
I can’t believe this is my first Alisha Rai read. I mean, I’m glad it was, because Katrina and Jasminder are one hell of a pair to introduce me to her immense talent and distinct style. This vibrant world full of unique and authentic people left me feeling warm and tingly down to my toes.
I am in love with the men and women that make up the Modern Love series, and you better believe I am about to rectify my not having read The Right Swipe first (I’m pretty damn eager now that I know who that story is about).
But putting all that aside, I really just want to talk about how wonderful a story Girl Gone Viral is. I immediately identified with both Jas and Katrina, because I’ve definitely been in their emotional shoes before.
Watching them both tiptoe around each other, feeling the other out while believing in equal measure that there’s absolutely no chance that this loyal friend could possibly have the same feelings. Luckily for them, it just took the right place, the right time, and the right circumstances to give them the push they needed to throw caution to the wind.
And that’s what is so wonderful and remarkable about good romance. You don’t have to have anything in common with the lives that Kat and Jas have lead to feel kinship. I have very little experience in the type of world they spend their days in, and share very little commonality with their histories and cultures, but I immediately knew that ever-present ache of an (assumed) ill-fated crush. And I knew them, just like that. I knew their hearts and souls before I ever knew their lineage and histories.
And the rich backstory for both of them brings a satisfying fullness to the world they inhabit. Learning everything about Jas in relation to his family, understanding his life experiences and how they both empower and inhibit him in particular circumstances, I saw the image of the kind of man Kat has been surrounded by all these years in striking detail.
Kat has such a dichotomous history with men. She’s known both great cruelty and great kindness. She has experienced one man’s intense manipulation and another’s blissful attempt at freedom. So it’s only fitting that her emotions attach themselves to a constant source of kindness and protection, a man whose job it is to keep her safe, but whose goal is to help her live.
I am beyond grateful that this book dropped into my world at the exact moment it did. I don’t know how much longer I would have gone without experiencing the incredible writing of Alisha Rai, if Girl Gone Viral hadn’t fit perfectly into an unintended gap in my reading schedule. I believe it was meant to be, and I look forward to taking advantage of any spare time I may have in the next few unpredictable months by diving into her back catalog, especially since a few of them have been on my TBR for longer than I care to admit.
And this might just be the perfect book to escape into during these uncertain times. I find myself searching out comfort reads, and while sometimes that’s a high fantasy world completely separate from these current circumstances, other times, it’s just a wonderfully crafted, intimate story set in the familiar. One that doesn’t require learning a new world order, but one that opens my perspective to just how many different ways there are to live and learn in the world we share.
Girl Gone Viral is the perfect tale of unrequited love that is so very, very far from ever being unrequited. I really hope I learned from Kat and Jas’ reticence to take chances with acceptable to reach for spectacular. I hope that anyone who needs to break free from the confines of their homes finds escape and solace reading Katrina and Jasminder’s love story.