Friday, August 6, 2021

Rachel Van Dyken - Stealing Her

My estranged twin brother, Julian, was always the wonder boy - and soon-to-be CEO of our ruthless father's corporation. My mother and me? Left behind. Now, years after tearing our family apart, my father dares to ask "me" for a favor? Pretend to be Julian while he fights to survive a tragic accident. It can save the company. Nobody will be the wiser. It'll be our secret.
I can play Dad's favorite. I'll do anything for Julian. And for my mother, who'll want for nothing.
But this double life comes with a beauty of a hitch: my very real feelings for Julian's fiancée, Isobel. Not only am I betraying Julian, I'm deceiving a woman I love. She doesn't suspect a thing. As lies compound, lines are crossed and loyalties tested, all I can ask myself is. . .what have I done?
Because sooner or later something's got to give. There's no way I'm giving up Isobel. But once the truth is exposed, it might not be my choice at all.

Comment: I got interested in this book after seeing it recommended somewhere about it having twins swapping places in a contemporary setting. When I got the book I saw it wasn't too big and now I finally managed to add it to my monthly list but it turned out I wasn't too fond of it after all.

In this NA story we meet twins Julian and Bridge as they are separated because their parents have a divorce and each son stays with one parent, and Bridge goes with their mother. Years later, Bridge works two jobs to help with her mother's medical bills and lost contact with his brother, whom he swore he would protect but Julian hasn't contacted him either. Suddenly, Julian has an accident and ends up in the hospital, which is why their ruthless father calls up Bridge and makes a deal with him. Bridge knows this could be the help his mother needs and accepts to replace his brother while he is in the hospital but soon realizes there were things he didn't anticipate such as having to fake his identity with his brother's fiancee, not knowing she would everything he would want in a woman...

This is the first story by this author I try. I saw the NA label but as with everything, each author and each book is unique so I still hoped to be impressed despite NA sometimes feel like YA but with older characters. I don't feel like I'm the public target of NA but it is true sometimes the plots seem intriguing and some authors have proven all could be great in the right perspective.

Sadly, I didn't end up with this impression from this book. I see how it might appeal, with characters having to face adverse situations or going through the motions when the timing isn't the best and how much more challenging that could be, but the dynamics and the situations presented feel so over the top and unlike any possible reality that I struggled to just accept them. Even if, allowing for the craziness of the real world, the book's plot were to come true, I still didn't enjoy how things developed and I especially disliked the narrators' voices, Bridge and Isobel.

I mean, nothing against these characters but repeating myself, this is a case where first person narrator just doesn't work. Both protagonists had to give us all the important information and so sorry to say, they both felt like silly people complaining about avoidable issues. Maybe this is not the case, but it sounded like it to me. The fact Bridge re-enters a life of privilege (the idea is that it requires personal and almost moral sacrifices) and all the good and bad parts that come with it just made things even more fake and hard to empathize with... so many situations I just found silly... maids throwing themselves at their boss, how much cheating there is, how much to complain about designer dresses, about appearances.. things most people just don't see in real life...

Of course, were the characters to have been characterized in a way I'd have liked them more, I could have overlooked the details I liked less, but how to like them when they only seemed to complain, to do things with secondary motives (I can accept Bridge wanted to help his mother but was what he did even legal?) and had lustful thoughts about one another? I suppose if the writing had conveyed things differently, I could have accepted the weirdness better but the way things were, I only wanted the story to end.

I think I understand why this author is prolific and why many readers enjoy her books, it is true that reading this was easy, in the sense the words just fly by...but the content wasn't to my liking. Therefore, I think I'll stop here and think of this as just another experience I wished could have been better for me.
Grade: 4/10

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