For most of its length, Mirror Image is a workmanlike if unspectacular romance, with a healthy dose of mystery. It features elements familiar to any reader of romantic suspense: an everyday person who looks nearly identical to a well-known celebrity, a bad guy who is stalking that celebrity and fixates on the lookalike, and of course, a very handsome man trying to keep the woman safe.
Aurora Alexander doesn’t have much in her life. She quit her job in social services to care for her mother, who has Alzheimer’s. She now makes a modest living as a celebrity impersonator, because she is a dead ringer for famous (and famously bitchy) talk show host Marsha Chambers.
After someone who mistakes her for Marsha nearly puts the “dead” in ringer, the show’s producer approaches her with a deal: keep impersonating Marsha while they try to catch the bad guy. Since it means more income, a chance to be talk show host herself, and more time around hunky producer Duncan West, Aurora accepts the offer. And soon Duncan finds himself falling for a woman who looks just like his despised boss, but is an entirely different person inside.
The romance part of the story is enjoyable, despite love scenes that get a bit purple. Aurora and Duncan are sympathetic characters. I especially liked the scenes with Aurora and her mother. The book gives a convincing portrayal of the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and the resulting emotional drain on the patient’s loved ones. But Aurora is so nice that she is rather bland, especially in contrast to Marsha. The story suggests that there is more to Marsha than meets the eye, and sympathetic reasons for her nastiness, but unfortunately this is never developed very much. This makes her eventual transformation into a nicer person – and her romance with a secondary character – feel rushed and not quite convincing. She is much more memorable as the raving diva and martinet boss.
The real problem with Mirror Image, however, is the resolution of the suspense plot. When the stalker’s motivation was finally revealed, I laughed out loud. The explanation of his behavior not only undermined my suspension of disbelief, it shattered it. It was really a shame, too, as there were more usual, and far more convincing, explanations for his behavior that were readily available.
When something like this happens so close to the end of a book, it is very frustrating, as it cannot help but color one’s opinion of it. It almost feels like betrayal, since there is a level of time and emotion invested with the characters, and suddenly all the props and scaffolding are showing. Despite a likable enough romance, Mirror Image left a bad taste in my mouth, and I cannot wholeheartedly recommend it.