I just want to say off the bat that I find magicians a little creepy. The slight of hand, a bound female assistant, and pulling mammals and birds out of strange places is just odd, particularly when you know it’s a skill and not really magic (which I’d much rather believe in).
Getting that out of the way, it was a relief for me to discover that our hero of Bedding the Wrong Brother, Rhys (and his identical twin brother Max) were most assuredly not creepy and, in fact, were quite sweet with the woman who had been their best friend since middle school, naturalist Melina.
Rhys has always been attracted to Melina and vice versa, yet neither of them understood as awkward teens the other’s behavior. Melina always knew she could be flirty and relaxed around Max because she wasn’t attracted to him like she was to Rhys, but Rhys interpreted her behavior as preferring his identical twin brother. Walking in on her kissing Max during her sweet sixteen party – the same party Rhys planned to tell her he wanted to start going out with her – basically killed any real chance at something more. Oh, they’ve remained friends, but with an increasing distance between them.
While Melina “recovered” from hearing about Rhys’ making out with a blond cheerleader at her sixteenth birthday party and Max unexpectedly kissing her, she’s focused on her college and grad school work, becoming an entomologist and loving it. The only problem is that the three boyfriends she’s had have all said she’s a dud in bed. Her best friends Lucy and Grace say that it’s the guys she’s dated who are duds, but with a sexy professor as a possible Mr. Right, Melina wants to hone her bedroom skills prior to making a move. Considering how many gorgeous women Max and Rhys have gone through, it’s her good idea to turn to Max, who was flying in for Melina’s birthday anyway. She’s happy when he agrees to help her, ignoring his protestations that the guys she’s been with clearly didn’t know what they were doing. In the hands of a trusted friend, she knows that she’ll learn how to drive a man crazy.
Rhys frantically arrives in Sacramento after receiving Max’s message that there’s something wrong with Melina. He didn’t plan on seeing her since he’s been trying to keep his distance, unable to deny his feelings for her since they were kids. Rhys knows in his heart that with Melina’s academic work, she’s a picket fence and kids kind of woman and the grueling schedule he and Max put in (along with their magician parents) is not for her. After a weird conversation with Max in the hotel bar, Rhys is blown away when he is accosted back in his hotel room by a confident Melina who clearly has the expectation that they are going to have sex! His brain shuts down at the sight of her in her underwear and no glasses and Melina discovers she is a screamer after all, right before dropping off to sleep.
Both of them feel betrayed when they realize that Melina thought she was with Max, but Rhys realizes this is an opportunity he can’t give up. He asks her to give him the weekend, whisking her off to a cabin he bought and renovated a few years ago, with the hope of convincing her of not only her own sexual prowess, but also of the idea that they could be really good together. Is it enough to overcome the past?
Rhys is the quiet, intense type and you can see his struggle in trying to rein in his emotions and find the best way to reach past Melina’s insecurities. I loved her scientist mind which tried to analyze everything but finally shut down the minute Rhys began touching her (her surreptitious measuring of the condoms she had purchased for her birthday night versus the extra large Magnums she found in the bathroom is hilarious!). Their points of conflict were extremely understandable and it was painful seeing them both wonder if and how this would all play out since the thought of losing each other was so unbearable.
This book was actually originally released in 2010 as This Magic Moment (an appropriate name considering Rhys’ profession), but I like Bedding the Wrong Brother better. Don’t be confused if you see the original title and cover on Goodreads or somewhere else, the one pictured above is the updated 2013 version.
While I did enjoy this book very much and would endorse it’s purchase to any romance lover, there were a few things I felt were a little off. First, the cover does not even begin to hint at the high (and wonderful) sensuality level inside the book. We need a little more nudity and some groping, none of this platonic chin touching, please!
More concerning was Max’s behavior in the narrative. The “big misunderstanding” at Melina’s sweet sixteen all came about from Max lying to her and then kissing her (naturally having Rhys walk in on them). It’s twelve years later and Max has never confessed to his deception – and Melina and Rhys just shrug it away. That seemed very generous (doesn’t this at least earn a dressing down or require some groveling?) but then Max destroys the apparatus for the special trick that can get them the cruise line job, purportedly because he knows that it’s not a great idea for Rhys and would take him away from Melina. Yet…the distance that comes between Rhys and Melina while he deals with this setback is what causes her to leave them in Reno and go back home, furthering their estrangement. WTF? And please don’t forget that he’s the one who duped Rhys and Melina with the whole hotel room switch that had them having sex in the first place. This seems like a tendency to passive aggressive behavior to me (how about just saying to your twin brother that you don’t want to take the job and he should be with the woman he loves?) and it going unaddressed as such made me uncomfortable.
But those are small pieces of the book and I’m sure I’ll gain more insight into Max when he is the hero in the next book in the series (which I’m looking forward to, if just to see Melina’s friend Grace fall for him). I’m not sure I would pay over seven dollars for the paper version of this book, but the Kindle price of $2.99 is a steal for the amount of enjoyment I got out of it. Many thanks to Virna DePaul for writing such a tender friends-to-lovers novel!