Night Whispers

Relentless

Suite Seduction

 
Two to Tangle by Leslie Kelly
(Harl. Temptation #882, $4.99, R) ISBN 0-373-25982-4
***
Two to Tangle is a typical case of mistaken identity. Twin brothers Trent and Troy Langtree are part of a wealthy family that owns a prestigious department store. Troy is Mr. Uptight Business suit, while Trent is down to earth and wants to create his own landscaping business. Their grandmother, the family matriarch, manipulates them both. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Chloe is a full-time college student by day, part-time window dresser by night. She put off her dream of college for four years already so she could support her flaky, aging hippie mom and her gifted teenage sister. She’s dependable, conservative and puts everyone else’s needs first. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Anyway, one night while working in a store window, Chloe catches sight of her usually uptight boss reveling in a late night rainstorm. Chloe is shocked and more than a little aroused by the site of “Troy” peeling off his shirt and laughing at the downpour. The incident sparks a creative window display that makes the newspaper and catches the eye of the Langtrees matriarch. Next thing she knows, Chloe is on her way to a posh hotel in Florida for a retailers convention.

While there, Chloe runs into the new and improved Troy and goes against her usually conservative nature and ends up in bed with him. Little does she know she actually just slept with Trent.

Despite its clichéd nature, the mistaken identity plot works really well as it goes on thanks to Kelly's skilled writing. She does a good job of keeping the mistake going without getting unbelievable. For example, the racy phone message Chloe leaves the real Troy. By including a mix-up between one of Troy’s one -nightstands and Trent, Kelly provides a reasonable explanation as to whom the message could have come from.

There is wonderful chemistry between Chloe and Trent. Although they do end up in bed together on the first date, there is sufficient dialogue and attraction precluding it that makes the reader confident that these two can create a deeper relationship. It also makes their love scenes that much hotter.

The author also does a superb job of dealing with the mundane details of real life, such as birth control, without jarring the reader. A prime example of this is when Trent eats a garlic and onion pizza, then meets Chloe for a date. When Chloe finds out what he’s eaten, she offers him a stick of gum before she’ll kiss him. It was smoothly written and much more enjoyable than the usual romance fantasy land (no BO, no bad breath, no stubbly legs) where the reader is thinking YUCK while reading about a big passionate kiss.

When the secret is revealed, not only does it torpedo poor Chloe, but it does a number on the book as well. Chloe descends into a contemporary heroine angst that is maddening. She really likes Trent, she finds him attractive, she was so happy with him, but all that’s negated because he wasn’t who she thought he was. If she said “But you were a stranger!” one more time I was going to bean her. Ok, so he wasn’t Troy, but she barely knew Troy aside from him being her boss. She knew more than that about Trent by the time they got into bed, so why should it make a difference? An initial hesitance would be acceptable, but Chloe goes on too long making conflict just for the sake of conflict.

Chloe’s reaction isn’t the only problem with the second half of the book. Troy’s sudden interest and pursuit of Chloe is obnoxious at best, especially considering how we’re told the brothers are supposed to be best friends. Nice friend. Also, the little subplot involving Chloe’s mother is trite and has a hasty tacked on feel to it.

Still, the first part of the book was good enough to redeem the lackluster ending. My advice is to enjoy the first half, then forgive the second.

--Anne Bulin


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