I am a bleeding heart reviewer, and try to find the best in any book I read. If it's a new author, I figure it takes awhile to find their nitch. But sometimes you come across a story that just bothers you because you can't buy into it, and I have just read such a book. "Twin Fantasies" by Opal Carew. I debated, and still do, whether I should post on a book I don't like. Writing, to me, is a fantasy, and it takes a lot of hard work and guts to put yourself out there. But then I decided to be honest about it, because some of the reasons I didn't like it were my hot buttons, and I wanted to explain my reaction to the story. Here's the back cover blurb:
Mistaken identity has never been so sensuous....Jenna Kerry has a secret. She's always fantasized about sharing her bed with two men, but her fiancé Ryan would never approve. But one night at a posh reception at a luxury hotel, Ryan unexpectedly appears, leads her to his room and shows her the wildest night of her life. The trouble is, he isn't Ryan. When she discovers the truth-that her fiancé has a twin-she reignites a long-standing rivalry. Both men are determined to have her, and they set out to prove their talents in the most erotic ways imaginable. But does she dare ask them to explore her most hidden fantasy... and can she handle all that these hot-blooded twins have to offer? Lock your door and indulge in this wickedly erotic tale from Opal Carew-an irresistible new voice in erotic romance.
Sounds hot and sexy, and exactly like the kind of story I like to read - a woman enjoying two men. The cover of the book is sensuous, with the lower torso of a woman in a red dress with a slit up the side and rose petals resting on her thigh near her knee. Before reading it, I would have thought this was a book that I just had to have. And that's why I bought it. But then I read it.
It starts out promising. Jenna is frustrated because she's at a friend's wedding with her best friend Cindy instead of her boyfriend Ryan. He was working, AGAIN, and so this leads Jenna to wonder if, after more than a year, if her and Ryan were really meant to be together after all. They hadn't even slept together in the last two months. She's confiding to Cindy, thinking that maybe she should break up with him if he cares more about his job than her, when in walks Ryan. Jenna's eyes light up, and when he pretends to be someone named Jake, obviously remembering her fantasy about having sex with a stranger, she realizes that he does care for her, and listens to her when she talks. What ensues is one of the sexiest, wildest nights of Jenna's life.
Only thing is, Ryan is not pretending, because it's really Jake, Ryan's twin brother! Jake's thinking he's just met the gorgeous, sensual woman who takes him on a trip to heaven, and he falls instantly in love. But in the spirit of the game, Jenna calls herself by another name and after their passionate night together, tells him good-bye in the morning, believing she will be seeing him again as Ryan. But because it's Jake, not Ryan, he regretfully walks away, believing she just wanted the fantasy for one night. Yet he wants to get to know her better, and memorizes her license plate number.
Well, guess what? Jenna ends up pregnant. And there's no doubt that it's Jake's baby, only Jenna thinks it's Ryan's, and when she tells Ryan, who knows they hadn't had sex for months, he realizes she's slept with someone else, but he decides that's okay and that he'll raise the baby as his own. He asks Jenna to marry him, and she joyfully says yes.
They plan the wedding, yet again Ryan falls back into his pattern of working 23 hours a day and Jenna's left taking care of all the arrangements. In the meantime, Jake has hired a private investigator to locate his mystery woman with the license plate number he remembered, only he feels guilty about opening up the envelope with the results, so he doesn't. Soon it's the rehearsal dinner, and both Jenna's and Ryan's family gather together, meeting for the first time. Ryan is busy talking to family members when it happens. Jake sees Jenna before him, unable to believe his eyes, and unable from planting a passionate kiss on the woman he loves. Jenna, believing it's Ryan, kisses him back with enthusiasm. Then Ryan's/Jake's parents walk up, and wonder why Jake is kissing Ryan's bride-to-be.
In that awful moment, they all realize several things: Jenna, thinking she'd been with Ryan the whole time, comes to the conclusion that she unknowingly cheated on Ryan and ended up pregnant with that man's child. Jake realizes that the wildly uninhibited woman he fell in love with is just not some random woman but his brother's fiancee. Ryan realizes that the one night stand Jenna had was with his brother, and that to her, it wasn't a one night stand at all. Now what do they all do?
Well, what happens next is that both Ryan and Jake want Jenna, and plot and scheme against each other to be with her. Jake wants time to get to know Jenna and be there to raise his unborn child, hopefully by marrying Jenna and living happily ever after. Ryan decides he isn't going to let Jenna forget about him, the man she originally loved, and does what he can to interrupt her time with Jake. Jenna is confused but her pregnancy hormones are taking over, and all she wants is sex with whichever twin is available. This goes on until they finally reach a conclusion that is apparently satisfactory to them all.
Now even with all the convoluted schemes and events, it might have been an okay story. But the tone of the book is very light and "yeah, whatever". La la la. First of all, how does Ryan not tell his girlfriend who becomes his finance that he has a twin brother???? It's not that they are estranged and won't be attending the wedding because they work together a lot and he's definitely going to be at the wedding. To me, that was too contrived to be believable and I didn't like it. Another thing is, Jenna comes across as too stupid to live. For example, when she finds out she's pregnant, her best friend Cindy tells her she should have put extra money towards condoms, to which Jenna replies "I know. I got sloppy. But when you're as regular as I am, it's easy to believe it won't happen." WTF? That comment really bothered me because one of the first things you learn in sex ed class is that the only guaranteed form of birth control is abstinence. Then, when all three learn each other's identities, Ryan doesn't want Jenna to tell Jake that she's pregnant with his child so that Jake will leave and let Ryan raise the child, unbeknownest to Jake it's actually his baby. As time goes by, Jenna is confused by which man to be with but she's so horny she's sneaking into their rooms at night or availing herself to which ever twin is in front of her, which didn't sit too well with me when she's a pregnant woman trying to decide what decision is best for her and her baby.
I read the book through to the end, hoping for something that would redeem it in my eyes, yet for the first time ever, I have decided that I am going to return a book back to the store and get my money back. I feel bad and guilty about that and truly do wish the author all the best, but I just can't keep this book. To me, it represents many of the things that give romance a bad name: a silly airhead of a heroine that I could not respect, relate to, or care about; lying, deceptive heroes competing for a woman like she was a prize to be won; irresponsible choices when it comes to sex. Maybe it was supposed to come across as light and fun and sexy, or maybe filled with zany shenanigans that have the reader laughing out loud and cheering for the characters, but instead it left me with a bad feeling about the whole situation.
Being a first for me, I feel a bit depressed, so I am going to probably grab a favorite book and settle in for a re-read, taking comfort in what I know to be a good, strong story. Throwing in a Cappuccino Blast and some chocolate I think will help. Brockmann, take me away.....