(I have no idea what’s up with the title. I got it under the first title, it’s on Goodreads as the second title… I don’t know what’s up, so you get both. Yay?)
I love any kind of story that balances on family dynamics. One of my all-time favorite stories I ever worked on with a friend dealt with two brothers in love with the same girl. Family problems can be some of the most fun, because they are so ingrained and so core to who these people are, that it can push them away from all the other answers. Needless to say, hand me a story where a girl means to end up with one twin and finds herself with the other…yeah, I wasn’t going to let that one get away.
And it’s another story that when I looked back at some of the other reviews, I was a little confused.
Melina has been close friends with twin brothers Max and Rhys since they were very young. It was a difficult friendship, since the boys’ parents traveled significantly as performing magicians, but Melina didn’t mind. She was comfortable with the boys; she always knew she’d be able to turn to them. Now, to be fair, while she was more outwardly comfortable with Max, the outgoing and demonstrative one…she’d always been fascinated with Rhys. Quiet, withdrawn, contemplative Rhys was the one Melina dreamed about, and he was the one who always seemed to keep her a half-arm’s distance away. As they got older and hormones and relationships began driving them apart, Melina drifted from the twins, to the point where she barely believed they remembered her anymore. At least…she wasn’t sure Rhys did. But when her friends challenge her to ask one of the twins to find her locked-away wild passion, and make her a “more satisfying lover,” she knows there’s only one she can ask…even if it’s not the one she’s always loved.
Now successful magicians of their own, Max and Rhys are finally on the verge of a major breakthrough. Everything’s falling into place, and they’ll finally have a theatre of their own. Max has spoken to Melina about her plans, and has agreed to help, but Rhys knows nothing of it. Knowing full well that Rhys has always loved Melina, Max secretly arranges for Rhys to be the brother who comes to the room Melina’s waiting in—and she’s not wearing her glasses, making the subtle differences between the brothers that much harder to see. But will Max’s ploy pay off, and the two finally find each other? Or will the sudden toss into the deep end prove to be one trick the magician can’t pull off?
Is this the best written book in the world? No. It doesn’t need to be. It’s a light romance, with angst balancing out the humor, and one with a lot of back and forth motion. Melina is incredibly insecure, and battles with herself to try and be courageous and forward…and in seconds has lost her nerve. Previous boyfriends haven’t given her much reason to believe in herself, and even as Rhys says everything she’s wanted to hear, it’s hard for her to believe. Other reviewers I’ve seen find this incredibly irritating of her. On the contrary, I find it one of the reasons I relate to her the best. Melina is described as being heavier, but still attractive. She thinks she’s fat and ugly; she’s been told almost as much. Trying to be a forward sex kitten is not something that comes easily to the etymologist. Very Gil Grissom. Yes, she spends a lot of time reiterating that she’s uncomfortable. She thinks she’s unattractive. She’s unsure if any of this is the right decision. And there are bursts of inspiration, where suddenly she’s all the things she didn’t think she could be. Is it annoying? Maybe. Try living it. As an overweight (and that’s being nice; I think clinically I could go with a worse term) female-bodied person, this is exactly how I’ve felt attempting to be forward in a romantic relationship. I’ve heard the encouraging words and been unable to believe them. And I’ve had moments where I wrangled up the courage to do something…only to have it slip away in the next breath. I know exactly how Melina feels, and it’s nice to see a girl in a romance do the same.
Hell, it’s even nicer to see a guy like Rhys stick around through it. Now if I could find my own Rhys…
The ending of the story doesn’t blow me away; I think it’s stronger without the epilogue. It feels forced and awkward; I would have appreciated more seeing how they got to the point we see them at than suddenly jumping forward in time and saying “ta-dah, see where they end up? Yay!” Is it surprising where they end up? No, not at all. But I think there were better ways of setting up the subsequent novels—which is all the epilogue really does. And while Max’s might hold some interest for me, I was given no reason to be at all interested in Jamie’s story, not even for his female counterpart. He’s a big empty nothing for me, and that’s too bad.
For a magic trick, while the pledge and turn were good, the prestige is a little lacking. (Incident with the axe notwithstanding.)
Rating: *** (Worth a Look)