Saturday, June 09, 2007

two down, eighteen to go...

Double Trouble by Claire Cross

ETA: an actual review. Oops! I accidentally published.

Two sisters. One disaster.

First things first: I’m the bad twin. While my sister, Marcia, has the perfect family in the perfect suburb, I’ve been making my living as an Internet advice columnist and designing Web sites in my downtown loft. I always thought I had the right answer - and hair color - for any occasion. That is, until Marcia ran up loads of debt and ran out on her husband and kids, and I was left helping to pick up the pieces.

Her husband, James, is a lawyer who I hate on principle alone. But for a guy who’s just lost his job, his marriage, and his expensive toys, he’s keeping it together - and making me rethink my feelings toward him. It’s not that he’s traded in his conservative suits for sexy jeans. It’s that he’s not giving up what’s important to him, and oh baby, I’m a sucker for a guy who hangs tough.

That doesn’t mean I’m ready to step into Marcia’s designer shoes now that she’s gone AWOL. And it doesn’t mean I’m going to fall for James’s easy charm...not again, anyhow. Besides, I’ve had a lifelong policy of not being mistaken for my twin and I’m not backing down on that one now - no matter how convenient it might be for a certain sexy (and persuasive) man...

I'm not up to summarizing. DT was, for me, a book which had flaws, but worked very well in spite of it. Every problem or question I had was adequately explained or solved, and the few issues that remained didn't really matter, because it was such an involving and enjoyable read.

The basic premise of the free-spirited heroine and the uptight hero is one that I am always drawn to. It always seems like it could be exciting and sexy and a nice twist on the bad boy/good girl plot. Unfortunately, in romanceland, an independent or idiosyncratic woman is often characterized as self-centered, bitchy and judgmental. At first I thought that Maralys O'Reilly was going to be a heroine in this vein. The Boston computer programmer grated on me with her insistence on independence and her "unconventional" lifestyle, meaning she dyes her hair a lot. But as the book unfolds , the reader gets to know Maralys a lot better (it's from her p.o.v.). How she would like to see herself, and how she really is, are two different things. And they are also very different from how her family sees her. She ends up being very likable and sympathetic. She is someone who has had to build a hard shell around her because of events and treatment in her past, but underneath she is a very caring person. I was so pleased to see her get her HEA.

I was also concerned that the hero was actually her twin's husband. I thought it had some squick potential. James was a great hero though, and given what happens to him, i.e. the fact that his self-centered bitch of wife took off after practically bankrupting him, I got over it quickly. James is strong, kind, empathetic and intelligent. Totally dreamy, and the chemistry between James and Maralys was great. I would've liked to see some flashbacks or something, to better illustrate the dislike that was supposed to have existed between them over the years. But there was some great tension between them. It's clear from the start that Maralys' distaste for her brother-in-law is not what it seems. There is a surprising twist that really upped the emotional ante for me. I don't want to give it away, but it was painful and revealed a lot about the two of them, as well as the missing wife, Marcia.

The supporting cast of characters was interesting and sometimes surprising as well: Maralys' crochety Dad, James' not-annoying children, her group of girlfriends, even her twin sister. This book was about family and familial expections: how they shape a person, how they shape a person's self-image, and how hard it can be to subvert them. It takes awhile for things to develop (the characters, the backstory), which gave me a feeling of disjointedness at first. When the full picture became clear, that feeling went away. I found this to be a sweet and emotional read.

Hmmm...other things. I wasn't thrilled by some of the netspeak, which I found a bit forced and cutesy. This book was originally published in 2002, so at that point it may have been a bit different, but I found it unnecessary. The sex scenes were very brief, just barely getting through the bedroom door, which is bad or good depending on your preferences. I'm going to give this a B, and I'm keeping it. I recommend it for someone looking for a straight-up contemporary that is a bit different, and bit surprising, and more focused on emotion than sex.


nath said...

How was the book, Devon? I like the cover, so I'm interested :P

nath said...

I'm glad you posted the review LOL :D It does sound good :D and I also like the free-spirited heroine with uptight hero... although not a fan of I'm falling in love with my sibling love... But then, if you say it was dealt properly :D And lucky for me, the book is on sale for only 4.50$ :D

Rowena said...

Hmmm, this one sounds interesting, I'll have to keep it in mind.

Great review, very thorough! =)