Review: Spice and Smoke by Suleikha Snyder (2012)

Bollywood Confidential, Book 1

Heat Factor: Based on the blurb, I was honestly expecting more sex (or kinkier sex?) than there was. There is definitely sex, but no group activities. 

Character Chemistry: Lots of sexual attraction

Plot: More like three short stories than one cohesive novella

Overall: In an author’s note to the current edition, Snyder refers to this book as “banana-pants” and she is not wrong.

The basic premise of Spice and Smoke is that a bunch of actors with various shared histories have all signed on to work on a movie together. They’re filming at a remote location, so when they’re not on set, there’s nowhere to go but back to the hotel. Drama ensues!

Let’s meet our couples!

Avi and Trish are married. Avi is bi but generally prefers men; Trish is his beard (kinda). She’s fully aware of his preferences, but they have sex with each other and they have an open relationship that mostly involves him bringing home other men. But when they arrive at the set for The Raj, things start to unravel because of their attraction to their co-stars. Harsh was Trish’s childhood crush, and Avi is instantly attracted to Michael – but Michael has no interest in being a side piece, and it seems like the marriage is not open enough for Trish to play on the side without Avi. (Which side note, that is some bullshit misogynistic double-standard right there which made me dislike Avi.) 

And then, there’s Sam and Vikram, who broke up several years ago because Sam was high all the time. Sam and Vikrim are not part of the poly mess that is Avi and Trish and Harsh and Michael, except for the fact that they are in the same movie. 

Lots of pining ensues, as well as a lot of fantasizing about sex. Which, I guess, if I’m reading it, is, from my perspective, the same as them having sex. Maybe I should update my “Heat Factor” rating. 


The novella is roughly divided into two halves, with the first half covering Avi and Trish and their potential new lovers, and the second half covering Sam and Vikram. Because we spend very little time with any individual, none of the relationships have much room to breathe or develop. 

Setting aside the underdeveloped nature of the romances, I did really enjoy the Bollywood setting. It was fun and campy and dramatic, which is pitch-perfect for the ridiculous internal turmoil of these characters. You will probably get more out of the book if you are well-versed in Bollywood film; some of the fantasies the characters have use scenes from well-known Bollywood movies as a starting point, and characters regularly reference stars and film conventions in their conversations.  

TL;DR: I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book – it’s pretty rough in places – but I am definitely interested in reading more of Snyder’s stuff.

Buy Now: Amazon

Looking for something similar?

Poly romances

Actors / Actresses

Want something quick? Try a novella!

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