Book Review: Twin Piques by Tracie Banister

In Twin Piques, identical twins Sloane and Willa Tobin couldn’t be more different. Their personalities, the way they dress, their careers, the way they view the world and what’s important to them are always at odds. Sloane is a workaholic forensic accountant striving for a big promotion and always puts her career before her love life. Willa is a quirky pet psychic who longs for true love when she isn’t interpreting the thoughts and feelings of animals to their clueless owners. Sloane is logical, focused, determined, and unfeeling while Willa is easily distracted, emotional, slightly delusional, and overly trusting to a fault.

I can really relate to Sloane and Willa in different ways. I’m a hopeless romantic like Willa, but I can also be incredibly cynical like Sloane. I actually found myself favoring Sloane much more and rooting for her, and rolling my eyes and shaking my head at Willa. Sloane’s domineering personality is quite refreshing, especially in chick lit. Too often in this genre the heroine is the bumbling, weak character to start out and then discovers who she is and how to assert herself throughout the novel. In a way, that is Willa. But what’s great is that Sloane is a narrator as well, and varying by chapter, we get to see both of their perspectives and read the story from their very different points of view. Sloane is a very strong character from the start, and I'm drawn to her because of that. I’ve read Willa before, and she’s too familiar. I’ve even written a similar character to Willa (Marlo in my novel, True Love Way. I think Willa and Marlo would be best friends!). We need more heroines like Sloane in chick lit. But that’s not to say that I don’t like Willa. I do. I just found myself getting bored with her and reading quickly through her chapters so I could get to Sloane’s chapters. Another issue for me is that I don’t really like Willa’s love interest. He is too perfect or maybe Willa’s extreme enthusiasm for him and optimism cloud his faults and real personality. As a result, I feel like I don't know him that well. I don’t connect to him, so it's hard to invest in their romance. I have a stronger connection to both of Sloane’s guys.

Note to authors: The book’s description needs to appeal to readers and intrigue them enough to buy your book without giving major plot points away. I’m sure I’m guilty of this, but if I write another book, I’ll be more mindful of it. There’s very little mystery in the description of Twin Piques. The description gives too much away and everything “hinted” at in the description happens. There are a few unexpected moments throughout the story, but they all lead to what’s put forth in the official synopsis. There is a big surprise at the end that I didn't see coming, so I have to acknowledge that, but I would have liked more twists and turns. The over-sharing in the synopsis reminds me of what the Hallmark Channel does. They air a lot of original romantic comedies and romance movies, and in the commercials, they often show the final scene of the couple kissing. A few weeks ago, I sat down to watch Surprised by Love and right before it began, they showed the final kissing scene in a what’s-coming-up-next promo. Throughout the movie, I was hoping that scene would happen halfway through or anywhere else but the end, but sure enough, it was the very last scene before the credits. Don’t do that to me! I know the couple is going to fall in love and live happily ever after in romantic comedies and chick lit. That’s the way it works. But don’t give it all away upfront. Don’t set up who will be with who or show me how it will happen before I even start reading or watching. There’s comfort in predictability, but too much of it is a turn off.

Anyway,  I love the bond between Sloane and Willa. Even though they’re so different, I believed in their strong connection right from the beginning, and it stays solid throughout the book. They always have each other’s backs. Overall, despite some typical chick lit tropes and a middle that drags a bit, Twin Piques is a great read. Tracie Banister’s writing is on point and extremely impressive, especially in Sloane’s chapters. I like that the intimate scenes are sexy, but not described in too much detail just for shock value. There’s enough on the page and enough left to the imagination. Just the right balance. The ending of the book is unique and hilarious and pretty much perfect. I love how it all comes together.  


4 stars

Editor's Pick: What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan?

Life in the city gives 23-year-old Amalia Hastings a ride she is not expecting. As she tries to find her way on the little island that never sleeps, she discovers she has a harder time navigating through life than she does the streets of Greenwich Village! She thought she had everything she wanted – a new apartment in Manhattan, a first-rate education at NYU, a group of trusted friends, and Nicholas, a boyfriend who she once believed was her soul-mate. But somehow, it isn’t enough. Stumbling through her relationships, Amalia encounters Michael, an attractive classmate who quickly moves from being one of her close friends to an inconsistent friend-with-benefits. After all, the only thing consistent about New York is its beauty. Amalia is essentially torn between two men, and Michael is torn between two women. Her best friend Cassandra is being strung along by her "boyfriend," Bryce, and even her friend Olivia is having a secret relationship! After getting terribly lost searching for love in all the wrong places, Amalia finds herself asking – what happens to men when they move to Manhattan?

*Editor's Pick* What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan? is a fun novel set in the college scene. Amalia is in grad school, so she's grown up, but also not quite there yet. She's still figuring out life and love and trying to navigate complicated friendships all while getting her master's degree. Amalia has to persevere through heartbreak and uncertainties in her personal life in order to focus on the bigger picture and what she really wants for herself. Jill Knapp's writing style is lighthearted and insightful, making this an easy yet thought provoking read. From the first page, she transports readers to the often confusing, always exciting time in our lives that is young adulthood. The characters are very real, all with the appropriate balance of immaturity and desire to take more control of their lives. If you're looking for new adult fiction without the romance novel cover and overly serious, graphic content, then definitely give this book a try. It breaks the new adult mold and gives chick lit readers something to enjoy in this category. 

Read an excerpt from What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan? at Harper Impulse.

A native New Yorker, Jill Knapp spends her time blogging for The Huffington Post where she writes about New York City, dating, and relationships. She has a master's degree in psychology, and she is a former college professor. In addition to her psychology background, she competed in and taught figure skating for over a decade. What Happens to Men When They Move to Manhattan? is Jill's debut novel, and the first in a series of books she is writing about being young, single, and living in New York City. She currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information, please visit Jill's website, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.