Trading Faces
by Denise Belinda McDonald, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-60504-125-4

Poor Elyse Cabot, and I don't say that because she is still using her ex-husband's last name despite the fact that they have been divorced for three years or so now. She is convinced that her ex-husband Matthew isn't dead, but is currently posing as his twin brother Jonathan. Jonathan was the one who died. Clearly, something shady is going on with Matthew but Elyse has no idea how she can get in touch with Matthew to figure out what he is doing. The plot thickens when she discovers some diamonds locked and hidden away in Matthew's safe deposit box. Fortunately, Jack Walling, Jonathan's friend, is a PI who can help, although he too is convinced that Elyse is seeing things.

This story confuses me, especially when early in the story, Elyse encounters a man in a Freddy Kreuger mask who pulls out a gun on her. After managing to get away from him, she... doesn't do anything. She knows that Matthew wants the diamonds, but she will keep them until he comes clean with her about his plans. Don't ask me what she intends to do with the knowledge. Wish him luck and tell him to enjoy whichever country he is going to flee to with those diamonds, I'd imagine. Honestly, if she intends to sell those diamonds herself, I'd understand why she wants to keep them. But in this story, even after getting pointed at with a gun by sinister strangers, Elyse continues to wander around in this story in some kind of weird daze.

As the story continues, I learn from Elyse herself how horrible Matthew was as an ex-husband. And yet, when the story opens, she is still pining after him three years after the divorce! Is Elyse feeling well? I don't think she's completely right in the head, to be honest, because she spends the whole story wandering around dazed or confused when she's not blinking like a stunned goldfish or undergoing weird mood swings. Because Elyse is a poorly drawn character, I have a hard time mustering any enthusiasm for her romance with Jack. I don't even have much interest for the mystery, especially when the heroine just stumbles upon it without having any clear idea as to what she wants to do with the answers she may find.

In other words, this story is a hard one for me to appreciate due to a poorly drawn heroine with often bizarre motivations and a tendency to behave in ways that suggest, to me, that she may be snorting a few lines of white powder now and then on the sly.

Rating: 51

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