I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Kishan Paul is an author to watch. I read her debut book, Blind Love when I was approved for an ARC on NetGalley, and immediately fell in love with her writing and her characters. She gives her characters a depth and complexity that is often lacking in romance novels. I’ve eagerly awaited a new book from this author for awhile, so imagine my excitement when The Second Wife appeared on my NetGalley dashboard; I don’t think I’ve ever been so anxious to be approved for a digital ARC. I may or may not have squealed in excitement when I saw it under my “Approved” tab, and I definitely consumed the entire book in one sitting. The Second Wife is a gripping suspense novel, filled with heart-wrenching pain and touchingly sweet romance. I thought it would be incredibly hard to top Blind Love, and I was right, but The Second Wife came incredibly close.
Two years ago, twenty-eight-year-old Alisha Dimarchi is kidnapped from her office in Philadelphia where she works as a psychologist, and taken to Pakistan where she is forced to become the second wife of a very dangerous and powerful man. While there she is forced to change her name, and endure horrors and trauma that are unimaginable. During the day, she fights to protect her new family within the house, and at night she dreams of her home, and her a husband…a man she isn’t sure loves her anymore. Back in Philadelphia, thirty-four-year-old David Dimarchi is heartbroken over the disappearance of his beloved wife. Just as he is beginning to heal from the pain of losing her, a ray of hope appears in the form of a man, who informs him Alisha is alive. Suddenly, David is racing the clock in a desperate attempt to save the wife he never stopped loving. However, Alisha’s disappearance goes beyond a simple kidnapping, and David and Alisha find themselves in a dangerous situation they never could have anticipated.
“The strongest steel is forged by the fires of hell.”
I really, really loved Alisha’s character. Kishan Paul has absolutely mastered creating female characters that are both strong as steel, but also empathetic with extremely kind hearts. They undergo horrible trauma’s, but don’t let it make them bitter or cruel. Alisha easily could have fallen into a hole of depression and self-pitying, while hating everyone in the house she was trapped in. Instead, she became stronger through suffering, like steel forged in fire. She realized that some of the other people in the house were just and trapped and abused as she was, and made it her priority to keep them safe, which is extremely admirable. She was ready to sacrifice her life to save others. I don’t think I’ve read a book where the heroine was as strong, brave, or selfless as Alisha, especially considering the horrors she endured. I have to admit, I was shocked by her tenacity. There were multiple times throughout the book where I though to myself, surely she can’t take anymore of this, and she proved me wrong. Alisha didn’t let the hell she lived in destroy her, instead she let it build her and make her stronger than ever before.
While David did not have to endure the same kind of horrors his wife did, he went through his own personal hell. I can’t imagine losing the person you love most in the world, and to have absolutely no idea what happened to them or where the went, or whether they are dead or alive. Just when he was beginning to heal and move on with his life, the wound was ripped open with the news Alisha was indeed alive. I know Alisha doubted his love for her after her being gone so long, but for me, there was never a doubt in my mind. This is a man who immediately dropped everything, pooled all his resources, and travelled across international borders in a desperate attempt to save the woman he loved. If anything, I was worried she wouldn’t want him, that she would be too changed by her experiences to ever be his wife again. I know that’s something that often happens with trauma and kidnapping victims–the find it too hard to go back to their old lives, so they create new ones.
This book was incredible. It was a dark, psychological thriller that had a very believable, with a well-thought out and thoroughly researched storyline. All too often these types of stories require the reader to suspend belief in reality, but Kishan Paul did not make that mistake. Instead, her book felt very real and raw. As a result, this book may be difficult to read for some. The theme is a dark and heavy one, and the things Alisha goes through are horrific. The darkness of this book is probably why Blind Love is still my favorite book by Kishan Paul–witty banter and a cute romance with a slight element of suspense is more my style, rather than dark psychological thrillers. That being said, this was still an absolutely amazing book, and I highly recommend it. Even if thrillers with darker elements are usually your thing, I urge you to give The Second Wife a try anyway. Alisha’s bravery is something we can all learn from and admire, and David’s love for his wife brought tears to my eyes and ache to my chest.
Kishan Paul has done it again! The Second Wife will hit shelves next Wednesday, October 8, so be sure to grab a copy!