Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sandra Brown: The Switch

Sandra Brown: The Switch C-

Gillian & Chief Hart

Identical twins are fair game for a thriller writer, and in The Switch, queen of suspense Sandra Brown (The Alibi, Standoff, Fat Tuesday) makes the most of an intricate setup involving Gillian and Melina Lloyd, a pair of thirtysomething
Dallas beauties. When Gillian hears her biological clock ticking, she puts herself in the hands of the world-famous Waters Clinic and is artificially inseminated (as described in a somewhat plodding first chapter that omits no detail of the procedure). The action picks up when Gillian switches places with her twin, a media escort, and chauffeurs sexy astronaut Chief Hart around town. It turns out to be a fatal attraction, and suspicion falls on Chief when Gillian's mutilated body is found the next day.

The dead woman's smarmy and enigmatic boyfriend, Jem Hennings, has a vested interest in focusing police efforts on Hart, but Melina has her own reasons for thinking him wrong. Jem's connection with a charismatic preacher known as Brother Gabriel is at the heart of this mildly creepy mystery, in which the plucky Melina tracks Brother Gabriel to his lair and uncovers his diabolical plot while simultaneously revealing her own dark secret. The ending is telegraphed well in advance… (

After being impressed with Sandra Brown’s Envy and Mirror Image, I prayed that The Switch would be as equally excellent.

I was wrong. (This is where I start sobbing uncontrollably.)

While the premise of the story was exciting, I couldn’t help but to have problems with the characters.

Gillian, wanting to be a mother, is artificially inseminated at a famous clinic because her longtime boyfriend, Jem, has had a vasectomy. That night, she and her twin switch places and she takes Melina’s place as a media escort to handsome astronaut “Chief” Hart.

It is no surprise that the attraction between Chief and Gillian is thick. One thing led to another, I suppose, and they sleep together. Disconnect 1: Gillian doesn’t seem to be the type of person to sleep with strangers on first dates – especially because she has a loving boyfriend. Even though she is pretending to be Melina, I feel that this is a very out-of-character deed for Gillian and something that I don’t understand because she loves Jem – and has told Melina repeatedly of how wonderful Jem is.

Gillian, you cheater and liar! I don’t care if it’s suggested for couples to sleep together on the night of the insemination (so that if the woman gets pregnant, then there is a possibility that the child was from the hanky panky and not the insemination) and that you couldn’t sleep with Jem because he’s sterile – what a way to betray your boyfriend’s trust. Creep.

So then Gillian is found dead the next morning, to Chief’s chagrin, because amazingly, he’s fallen in love with Gillian. (“love at first sight” is another disconnect for me, but it’s believed by many and common, so I let it pass). He spends many hours with Melina to track down Gillian’s killer – Melina and Chief both want revenge and the police are doing a crappy job of everything, so they decide to work together to bring about justice.

But the more time he spends with Melina, the more lustful thoughts lurk in his head. Furthermore, he questions his feelings for Melina – was he falling in love with her too? Of course, Melina has fallen in love with the lameface.

When Melina and Chief do the hanky panky, I can’t help but to think that Melina got used. Chief may be falling in love with Melina, but he’s already lost it to Gillian. Don’t tell me crap about falling in love with two people – that’s a pickle as is; the fact that the two women Chief is in love with are twins makes it incestuous and gross. Ew, imagine sharing your twin sister’s lover – the twin sister that you love and adore dearly, the sister who is so close to your heart that she is a part of you…

To add to this slightly disturbing procession of events, when Chief is in the throes of passion with Melina, he yells someone’s name. I’ll let you guess whose name he yelled.

…yea, what a douchebag. Way to satisfy your lust by hooking up with the identical carbon-copy twin of the woman you fell in love with.

While the ending might bring everything together, the premise in which the characters acted is disturbing. To me, it doesn’t matter if Captain Hook ends up being the good guy in the very end; if Wendy thought that Hook was the bad guy BUT does the hanky panky with him anyway, that is a breach of moral goodness for Wendy, in my book.

It’s like that. It doesn’t matter for the ending, really, because we all know that somehow, things work out because they’re romances and HEAs are necessary. It’s the idea that the characters have of each other that determine motivations and drives – that is crucial. Both Gillian and Chief breached the line of moral goodness.

Because of this, I find the book merely amusing.

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