Length: 276 pages
My rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Maralys is poles apart from her twin, Marcia. Marcia married the man made of husband material, had two kids, and lived the perfect suburban life. Maralys, on the other hand, lived in her loft downtown and made a living as a writer of code and giver of internet advice. But when Marcia up and leaves her family and disappears, Maralys is left to step in to help out. Always tagged as the ‘bad twin’, Maralys didn’t care much for her role in helping her sister’s family get back on track, however little her role may be. She didn’t like her brother in law, James, whose career as a lawyer was only part of the reason for her dislike. And she definitely didn’t do ‘family’ or ‘trust’, not after all that she’s been through.
But when James seems to overcome the difficulty that his wife’s large pile of debt had thrown the family into without too much effort, when he handles with perfectly calm composure the fact that he’s lost his wife, home, money, and job in the blink of an eye, Maralys is forced to reconsider her opinion of the man. The more she allows herself to be taken in by what James seems to be, the more she finds herself attracted to him. Plus, he seems to reciprocate the attraction and is doing little to fight it. Can Maralys fight his charm? Or will she fall for him (again)? And why does James, who had always reciprocated her dislike for him too, suddenly seem to want Maralys as much as she wants him?
To begin with, let me tell you that Double Trouble is categorized as a romance. What it is though, is 276 pages of people simply rattling on with no apparent destination for their thoughts, words, or life in general. The romance is left to a few pages which, for all its build up, is highly disappointing to say the least. I personally found the book lacking any real element of romance, with the focus being more on narcissistic and prolonged drama.
And that’s, unfortunately, not the only problem. The first chapter of this book starts off great! It hints at elements of suspense, heat, romance, and lots of scope for the characters to truly find themselves as they discover each other. And then it fails to live up to any of it. What follows after the first chapter is a monologue of how Maralys thinks she’s the cat’s cream, in spite of her drawbacks, both known and unknown. Put forth in an utterly uninteresting fashion, her character is displayed to the readers through pages and pages of ‘I this’ and ‘I that’ with a little bit of ‘This is how rigid I am about everything’. The rigidity is not even the worst of the problems. In fact, it is quite the opposite. For a woman who claims to have her head on straight about everything including awareness about the things she’s not good at, Maralys goes on to do everything contrary to what she claims to be… and then she justifies her actions in some weird manner which probably makes sense only to her. If that wasn’t enough, she has random bursts where she refuses to do things that she, until then, was perfectly happy doing and then cites her basic character to anyone who will listen. All in all, Cooke created a character that was too confused to seem real, and definitely too twisted to associate with or even find yourself about.
Then there were the other characters. The only normal one seemed to be James, but since his role is not really that prominent (he tends to get lost in all that Maralys goes on about herself), the sanity of the book is short lived. Toss in a problematic mother on his end and you get an opportunity to see his kind side – an opportunity which seemed a bit overdone since his real self was evident from the get go really. James’ introduction leaves you with the impression of him being a typical, romantic hero – one who has many layers and shades, one who will face what comes his way, and one who tries to make the best of every situation. Thankfully, he remains true to his introduction, but a man who’s a bad boy on the outside and a warm, fuzzy sweetheart on the inside wasn’t enough to move the rating for this book any higher.
Other characters, who are just as confused as Maralys if not more, include her father. At least his character gives us an insight into why Maralys is so self obsessed with justifying and analyzing every little thing that she does or does not do, even though his role adds only more unnecessary drama and pages of random and pointless conversation. There are also some other characters that come into play, but their role and purpose seemed to be little more than to add length to the book so it could go from novella to novel. Maralys’ friends, who come up towards the last third of the book, are each given two page long introductions that nobody cares about and a role that involved telling Maralys exactly what she’s been afraid of telling herself, but known all along. My opinion – there were enough secondary characters to begin with, some of who actually had a role to play, and any one of them could have done that. There’s also a small role that James’ family plays, with the more mundane and unrelated aspects brought into focus and the ones that actually affect the story left to be played out in half a chapter, only to be forgotten or briefly mentioned in awkward conversations later.
Added to that was the fact that the author seemed almost too uninterested in making her own story interesting. I mean, James, Johnny and Jimmy? That’s what you’re going to name you lead guy and his sons? Really? Getting creative with names is not too difficult. Throw in one girl friend of Maralys’ whose every burst of speech, including multiple sentences and topics, spans three paragraphs written as one sentence. What you get is a conversation that is ridiculous to try and follow, not appealing in the least, and the feeling that Cooke didn’t care enough about her readers to add some punctuation (commas and full stops don’t really take that much time). Then there is Marcia, Maralys’ twin who does make a special appearance just so that everyone doesn’t hate her, even though that’s the opinion Maralys has and enforces on everyone. While the book kept jumping about from one unrelated thing to another, what didn’t help the flow was the crazy, abrupt shifts from regular conversation to sex conversation, thoughts, and scenes.
To sum it up, Double Trouble is painstakingly long, never seems to end, goes off onto tangents that don’t concern anything or anyone, and involves more confused and sad family drama than any real romance. The so called twist (there obviously had to be one) is not really all that twisted, is kind of predictable, and marks that point from where things actually go further south, even if you didn’t think they could. I think the attempt was for Maralys to find her true self through love, but that got lost somewhere in all the ‘me this’ and ‘me that’. My advice – read this book only if you have many days to kill, nothing better to read, and nothing better to do; or if you love reading about women who take pride in the fact that they are too confused in life and can’t tell up from down, while claiming to be absolutely self reliant.