Twice Kissed by Lisa Jackson
(Zebra, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-6038-6
****
If you enjoy well-paced, well-plotted, "can't put it down" contemporary romances, you won't want to miss Twice Kissed by Lisa Jackson.

Technically, I suppose this book qualifies as a thriller and the will keep your turning the pages until the wee hours. But often in these romance/thriller hybrids, the author lets the romance take a backseat to the mystery. That's not the case here – the chemistry between the two main characters is palpable, and while the book contains little graphic sex, the pages sizzle nonetheless..

Twiced Kissed is the story of Maggie McCrae, a 38-year-old divorced mother of one, who has moved to the wilds of Idaho to get her life back in order. I will say that Maggie is a little too much of a goody-two-shoes for my liking – she too often lets herself get manipulated by other people, bending to their will instead of asserting her own. That characteristic makes her the perfect foil for her more calculating twin sister Mary Theresa, a famous talk show hostess and failed movie actress who mysteriously disappears.

Ordinarily, I'm not a fan of good twin/bad twin books, but Ms. Jackson carries it off, delivering a believable story about the love/hate relationship between Maggie and Mary Theresa. The book would have been better if the author had done more to shed light on why Mary Theresa grows up to become such a "rhymes with rich", but the book effectively portrays the complex relationship between two sisters who look so much alike, but think so differently.

But back to the story…The very evening Maggie learns of her sister's disappearance, Thane Walker, her first love and the man she's never quite been able to forget, shows up at her doorstep. As it turns out, he is also looking for Mary Theresa. As Mary Theresa's ex-husband, he's a prime suspect in her disappearance.

The search for Mary Theresa is complicated by her other ex-husband, several bitter rivals, some friends and many lovers, and Maggie learns some ugly truths about her sister, even as she fights her rekindled attraction to Thane – a rugged, cowboy type who is right up my alley in the hero department.

The book ends on a satisfying note, as Maggie and Thane solve the mystery, find each other and, as with any good romance, live happily ever after. This book is perfect reading for a lazy fall afternoon.

--Leslie McClain


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