Desert Isle Keeper
A DIKlassic review
originally published on November 29, 2001
There’s definitely something about Mary, Aunt Mary that is. Aunt Mary is the Internet advice columnist who is known as Maralys O’Reilly in real life. She may be my favorite heroine of any book I’ve read this year. With Maralys as narrator, this quirky, funny book made me laugh while tugging at deeper emotions.
Maralys likes her life as it is, thankyouverymuch. She’s single, lives in a large warehouse-type building, and is responsible for no one save herself. She loves her nephews and frequently helps them out of jams when their parents – Maralys’ twin sister Marcia and her lawyer husband James Coxwell – are too busy. After one of these rescues, Maralys discovers her sister has run off and left her husband and sons behind. Maralys thinks her sister is an idiot and she has issues with James. Despite their bordering-on-insults banter, there’s an underlying attraction between the two.
There’s no doubt that the premise of a twin being involved with the other twin’s spouse has an icky kind of feeling to it. I wondered if and how the author was going to pull it off, but she did, with a lively writing style and well-developed characters who behave reasonably given who they are. One caveat, though. Those who hate romances written in the first person need read no further. As for me, I think the first-person narration is one of the strengths of this book.
Maralys just pulled me into the story and spoke to me. She’s so my kind of girl. She’s with it, she’s sarcastic, she dresses uniquely and seems not to give a damn what anyone thinks, and she designs web sites. Overall, she’s a very contemporary chick. Her outer toughness hides a soft inside, even though she doesn’t realize it. She thinks she likes her life the way it is, with no one depending on her, when, in reality, she is a rock to many people. The scenes in which Maralys realizes the truth about herself are very nice.
The first impressions of James the reader gets through Maralys’ eyes don’t paint a great picture. He seems cold, aloof, and rich, but his first appearance on the scene dispels that impression. He does have emotions, and lots of them, including anger and frustration at the way his life is unraveling, love for his kids, and lust for Maralys. James is one of those quietly powerful types who can have a temper when provoked while being utterly charming the rest of the time. I loved him
Maralys and James are the epitome of opposites attracting. Maralys is always edgy around him because he challenges her beliefs. James decides he wants Maralys and pursues her. Maralys shows James how to live on a budget, and when he follows her advice, it makes him even more attractive to her. There’s definitely heat between these two, and it really works. There’s also a very surprising history between them that really explained so many things once it was revealed.
Maralys’ father and James’ sons all have major roles. When she’s around her father, Maralys takes care of him and continually tries to prove she’s no longe the wild and rebellious girl she once was. One of the boys ends up having problems because of the divorce – in other words, he was written realistically. James’ mother, a recovering alcoholic, adds a nice touch to his side of the family. Rounding things out is Marlys’ sister Marcia, who seems like a vain and shallow person, but in the end comes off as human.
While Double Trouble seems light and cute, there are some surprisingly deeper undertones. The struggles each of these characters faces in their lives will touch readers. At first, I was wondering what grade to assign this book – a B+ or an A-. However, when I bought a real copy of it instead of keeping the manuscript review copy because I knew I would reread it in the near future (my qualification for a keeper), I knew it was an A.