Tangled Lies: A Husband/Wife Review, Part 2 (The Wife)
I was never very familiar with Harlequin Intrigue, other than the Catspaw books by Anne Stuart. Given the cat burglar/’50s fun of the Catspaw books, you have to imagine how shocked I was to read the back of Tangled Lies, a book that can only be described as “…Incest??”
Back of the book reads:
She was all caught up in his tangled lies…
The porcelain butterflies arrived like clockwork every year on her birthday. Rachel Chandler received gifts postmarked from exotic places all over the world from her brother Emmett, who had been living underground since his implication in a bombing in the late 1960s.
After fifteen years, Rachel was about to see Emmett again. He had surfaced in Hawaii, and nothing could keep her from going to him. But when they did meet, Rachel knew something was terribly wrong. She hadn’t expected to recognize Emmett right away …but she hadn’t expected to be attracted to him either!
This is the POOREST WORDING OF A NON-INCEST PLOT EVER. Thank God when they reissued the book, they changed the back. But my God, it makes no sense!
What also makes no sense? The beginning of the book. It’s very oddly writing, kind of stilted and a bit confusing. I don’t know why I felt that way, but I did.
But as the book goes on, basically once you’re past that unnecessary prologue (if only she’d known Jenny Crusie then!), it makes a lot more sense. Rachel’s brother was involved in a bombing and has been on the run ever since. She’s been told he’s in Hawaii by her uncle or something, and told not to go there.
Okay, so it doesn’t make PERFECT sense.
Once she’s there, she starts getting hot and heavy for her brother, and he reciprocates enough for her to not completely loathe herself. We learn from his perspective that he is definitely not her brother, but he keeps letting her think it while having impure thoughts and actions toward her.
A lot of the things that don’t make sense, Rachel waves away by saying “Well, obviously he doesn’t remember me as much as I remember him!”
One thing I didn’t remember from Catspaw II is that Stuart’s heroines are often wide-eyed and, yes, a bit dim. I’m not sure why Stuart writes these women, but she does. I hope that when I re-re-read Catspaw II, Ferris isn’t dim.
There are a few reveals in this book, some obvious, some really, really not. But the crux of the book–that Rachel believes she’s having sexual thoughts and feelings for her brother–is so goddamn off-putting and unsexy that I have NO idea what V.C. Andrews-loving member of the Harlequin staff decided to publish this thing.
The Westermarck effect doesn’t even come into play here, as they were supposed to have been raised together. The concept of hero worship is, okay, thought of by our heroine, but she doesn’t decide to reject him because it’s what’s going on. And the end result is that even though she was into her fake-brother, and he was fake after all, SHE STILL ENDS UP WITH A DUDE WHO LOOKS SUSPICIOUSLY LIKE HER BROTHER WOULD HAVE IF HE’D NEVER CHANGED FROM YOUNG ADULTHOOD TO MIDDLE ADULTHOOD.
Still a little creepy, Krissie.
So the end result is a creepy but interesting book that probably shouldn’t be under any romance imprint.