Twins separated at birth? Family psychoses? Slow-burn murderous plots? Count me in!
THE PLOT: Jane Flannery made a big mistake when she chose abusive Frank, a crooked cop, for a boyfriend. When she got pregnant and he tried to force her to have an abortion, she knew she had to get away. She moved away, changed her name to Jane Ryan, started a new life, and severed contact with her family. But when she found out she was having twin girls, she knew she didn’t have the resources to keep both. Jane kept Harper, the bad-tempered twin with colic, and gave serene Louisa to a loving, wealthy couple.
Now, 14 years later, Jane often worries that sullen, difficult Harper has inherited her father’s family’s mental illness and brutality. Is she a normal, petulant adolescent girl? Or does she have the kind of anger management issues that would lead her to try to take out a sports rival with a baseball bat?
Things get even more complicated when Louisa, now called Isabel, and her adoptive mother move to the small town. Isabel’s father has died, and her mother has had health problems. Isabel wants to connect with her birth family before they become all she has left. The girls couldn’t be more different. Harper is an athlete who is most comfortable in a team uniform. Isabel favors pink and spends her time cooking and designing clothes. The twins bond, but Jane remains uneasy. Has one of the twins really inherited Frank’s madness…and if so, which one?
MY TWO CENTS: I don’t think I will ever stop looking for a stories that are reminiscent of V.C. Andrews (the fantastic original author, the real Virginia Andrews, and the early ghostwritten stories that were good). The summary for this book hooked me…reunited twins, one good, one evil; family shenanigans including sabotage and framing; manipulation; abuse…even (WARNING) pet trauma is in there. For VC fans, it was like a cross between Heaven and Ruby.
I had two main problems with this book. The first was that there was a LOT of setup time; I think I was at about 55% before Isabel even showed up in the story. There was a lot of description about Jane and Harper’s day-to-day, Harper’s angst with her friends and team sports, Harper being moody…I guess it was all setup for Harper’s character, but it seemed a bit long before the action really kicked in.
My other main problem was that it was too predictable. From the time Isabel showed up, talking about her recently deceased adoptive father and sick mother, I knew what was going on. (Maybe I’ve just read too much V.C. Andrews?) But the twins switching places, attempted boyfriend stealing, the garden no one should enter, keeping the classroom pets over the holiday…I had seen it all before. The ending had a bit of a surprise to it, and that was fun. Just when I was wondering if it could wrap up by the end of the book, it did…although a sequel is highly possible.
One more thing: ***MAJOR SPOILER*****
WHY was Jane so worried about Harper inheriting Frank’s madness, but not Isabel? Was it because Isabel had the façade of calm, cool collection? But if she was so convinced of the nature versus nurture thing, shouldn’t she have been at least suspicious of Isabel?
BOTTOM LINE: Mostly predictable, but also well-written and an easy read. Worth the read if you like this kind of story. I would totally read a sequel.
TEACUP RATING: Three-and-a-half out of five teacups.
ON SALE DATE: Available now in paperback and eformats.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.