Desert Isle Keeper
Girl Gone Viral
Girl Gone Viral is fluffy and substantive, emotional and trenchant, sad and joyful. It’s a lovely feast of human emotions that will fill the reader’s heart with gladness.
Ex-model Katrina King is a romantic at heart; a romantic who keeps mainly to herself, content to maintain comforting routines in her rich widowhood. She spends most of her time inside away from the public eye, and while she’s invested in dating apps she’s never used one herself.
In fact, if she weren’t the subject of a sudden viral hashtag, she might even find the notion of her non-romance with a total stranger cute.
Unfortunately, she is now #CuteCafeGirl, presumed to have landed herself in a sweet, romantic fling with a guy whom she accidentally spilled her food on in a coffee shop. Sadly for the internet, Katrina has not seen #CafeBae since their encounter – they are definitely not dating. Katrina had been trying to get herself back out on the dating market, but this puts an extreme halt to that hope – worse, the pressure of her sudden viral fame ramps up her anxiety.
Enter handsome and erstwhile Jasvinder – Jas -Singh, who’s been a friend of Katrina’s forever and her bodyguard since her husband passed away and he switched his services to following her. He offers to help her hide out at his family’s peach farm, which will be a secluded and quiet place for her to wait out her fame and heal up emotionally.
As Katrina settles in – and comes to enjoy and clash with Jas’ family – she starts to discover who she really is. But can she ever get Jas to look at her as more than a professional duty? And can she put the toxic relationship she has with her father behind her?
Girl Gone Viral is about family, a love that develops in sweet slow-burn manner, and the difficulties of viral fame.
Katrina is a fine, relatable heroine who is complicated but completely sympathetic. She has some serious personal scars; she’s hiding from her emotionally abusive father, who tended to use her anxiety against her, and during the height of her fame she was kidnapped and held for ransom. That left her with a panic disorder, all of which feels accurately and sensitively portrayed.
Jas, too, has emotional scars as a result of infighting with his family and a severe conflict with his grandfather Andreas, as well as PTSD from his military service. He’s steadfast, true, loyal and tough – a good hero, with strong moral fiber.
The romance is adorable. Jas defends Katrina and her recovery with the fierceness of the most loyal friend and the most dedicated lover; he’s not one to be messed with. But Katrina, too, urges Jas to get things together and work it out with his family.
I liked Katrina’s friendship with Rhiannon, who’s loyal and friendly, and I liked Bikram, Jas’ bitter brother, who is more than a bit put out by the sudden appearance of Katrina in their lives and his grandfather’s preference for Jas.
If the story has any real flaws, it’s that it hits a lot of familiar, tropey, expected points. Jas and Katrina adopt a lost dog; they wrangle with terrible memories and worse past trauma; the country is a healing place that is an almost paradise-like contrast when compared to the city.
But I didn’t mind that; not when the story is told in Rai’s engaging style. Girl Gone Viral is a weighty breeze of a novel, and it has character, form and personality and a very sweet, swoonworthy romance between two strong people. It’s a marvelous read.