I sometimes really like Jude Deveraux's stories, and sometimes I really don't like them. But this one - well, I just found it truly odd.
First of all, it often seemed as if major chunks of information were missing. And - they were. See, this is 2 stories, Twin of Ice and Twin of Fire, taking place at the same time. The Ice Twin is Houston Chandler, always a lady. The Fire Twin is her identical twin sister, Blair Chandler, apparently the opposite. But I read Ice first, and felt a lot of the time like I was missing something.
This isn't the only instance of an author writing different books that take place at the same time. The most recent I've read is Julia Quinn's The Lost Duke of Wyndham/Mr Cavendish, I Presume. In fact, I am thinking maybe I picked up Ice/Fire from a discussion on books with this conceit.
OK - Houston's story is that she is the "good" twin. She has been in love with Dr. Leander Westfield for as long as she can recall, and has been engaged to him for years. In fact, their wedding is just around the corner, so the "evil" (? I guess - since I haven't read her story) twin Blair is in town for the wedding. Blair has become a doctor and was living... elsewhere.
The chain of events that led up to the twins deciding to switch places for an evening still has me baffled. Kane Taggert, the hero, was such a buffoon with such bad language and habits that I was convinced he was going to later "out" himself as just kidding. He somehow appeals to Houston to come to his house for dinner on an evening she has a date with Leander. Houston convinces Blair to go with Leander in her place, since Leander doesn't seem to be able to tell them apart (although Kane can?). Blair - I guess I'll learn more when I read Twin of Fire - manages to sleep with Leander even though up to this point Blair and Leander can barely have a civil conversation. Go figure, 1 week before the wedding and the sister sleeps with her future brother-in-law.
I can't resist letting the cat out of the bag about Kane - he wasn't kidding. He was as rough a hero as I've read about, and pretty obnoxious about it too. Because Blair slept with Leander, they were forced to marry (not sure who told on them though), and the next thing you know, Houston is planning a double wedding with her and Kane as couple #1 and Blair and Leander as couple #2. And if sleeping with her sister's fiancé (and then marrying him) wasn't enough, the Fire Twin bitch tried to switch grooms at the wedding as if no one would notice, theoretically to save Houston from being forced to marry the madman Kane. Maybe after I've read Blair's story I'll feel more empathy for her, but during this book I just wanted to bitch slap her. Hadn't it occurred to Blair that it didn't matter which twin stood where, the wedding license would have the right names??
The balance of the plot is just how Houston and Kane manage to find their HEA - he thinks she married him for money, and nothing she says changes his mind. She discovers he married her to get revenge on another character, and that's another obstacle they have to overcome. The whole thing was just weird enough, though, that I had trouble following.
There seemed to be odd jumps in dialog too, where one person would say something and the response would be so out of left field, I wondered if I skipped a page. Another oddity to me was the juxtaposition of humorous and macabre - lots of suicides and death in this story, surrounded by jokes and people making fun of each other. I Just Did Not Get It.
Sometimes I find a book has characters I dislike, or a story line that annoys me, or even bad grammar. I can't exactly pinpoint what it is about this book that baffled me so. I didn't really hate it as much as I think I should. Maybe reading Twin of Fire will allow me to understand them both better - or maybe I'll read it and decide I really did hate it [ETA: the decision is in: Did Not Like It]. After all, I want my emotions engaged, I want to feel something besides confused when I read, and confused is all I felt about Twin of Ice. Disgusted is was I felt after finishing Twin of Fire: disgust at having wasted a PBS credit or 2 (hopefully I got a deal on them) as well as several hours of reading.
The AAR Reviewer used 2 words in her review of this that I should have used: incoherent (as in, incoherent writing) and barbarian (as in Kane, the barbarian hero). Yep. I shoulda said that. She seemed to like Blair and Lee better, so maybe I'll like them too.
And dangit, it didn't even fall under any of my reading challenges!!