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Sangeeta Duggal
Faded Lines
C.D. Paul, author
An International Romantic Thriller that touches on two lives and the decisions that have affected their course of action in the world they live. Meet Maya Singh, a physician who works with Doctor's Without Borders, divorced for two years and is still unable to come to terms with it. Meet Azar al Faid, an actor but also one who has ties to a terrorist group and the world of illegal arms trade. Both meet by chance, unexpectedly sparking a flame between them but one which neither is sure can last.
Paul’s debut romantic thriller crosses international boundaries, stretching from California, to Dubai, and journeying deep into Pakistan as it follows Azar Al Faid and Maya Singh on a whirlwind gamble of love and adventure. Azar, a Pakistani actor who finds himself immersed in his uncle’s illegal arms trade, embarks on a trip to Dubai for his current film, where he runs into Maya, an Indian physician residing in California and volunteering for Doctors Without Borders. Despite the pair having seemingly nothing in common, they are immediately drawn to each other, sparking a cross-country affair rich with twists and turns as Azar attempts to leave his dangerous past behind him. Can the two find their way through it all unharmed, and more importantly, together?

Paul’s fitting title is evocative of the choices that people are forced to make, often when circumstances are blurry and the line between right and wrong is indistinct. He maintains a firm grasp on his characters, and perhaps the strongest aspect of the story is his deeply human portrayal of not just Azar and Maya, but even other, relatively minor main players who support the novel’s outcome. That rich character development is accompanied by a thrilling narrative that constantly hurtles forward, delivering layers of curveballs—from Pakistani terror groups to leaked biological weapons in Paris.

At times, Paul’s plot comes across as far fetched, and readers may feel inundated with one unbelievable shock after another, but in the end it will be worth their time to suspend belief, as he delivers a satisfying and just reward at the story’s conclusion. The twists might be larger-than-life, but Paul makes sure to fill in all the gaps, never leaving readers hanging with unexplained details. Lovers of romance and thrillers will relish this novel, which is equal parts heartwarming and exhilarating.

Takeaway: A thrilling romantic thriller that crosses the glob and the lines between right and wrong.

Great for fans of: Jack Carr’s The Devil’s Hand, Kate White’s The Secrets You Keep.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B+