Twin Peaks
by Susan Johnson and Jasmine Haynes, contemporary (2006)
Berkley, $7.99, ISBN 0-425-21110-X


Twin Peaks is actually a collection of three short stories billed as erotic romps. I suppose they could be considered "erotic" if the reader's yardstick for what constitutes erotic romance is a typical Harlequin Blaze short book, because the only thing here that is more erotic than a typical Harlequin Blaze is the raunchiness of the language employed by Susan Johnson in her short story. Despite the premise of the stories as twins "taking pleasure to the limit - and beyond...", there is no ménage à trois, no penetration of less conventional body orifices, and not even a butt plug in sight. In other words, if your usual erotic romance fare consists of stuff from Ellora's Cave and Loose Id, this one will probably make you yawn.

Susan Johnson has less to lose by giving her name to what is obviously a platform to introduce Jasmine Haynes to readers, so she contributes only one story here, Wedding Surprise. Sofie Piper is infatuated with Jake Finn, the football coach in the school where she teaches French, and on a wedding day of a friend, she thinks she has scored the big one when she gets to see Jake's penis up close. Only, the penis doesn't belong to Jake - it belongs to Jasper, Jake's twin brother. Because Sofie is determined that she is in love with Jake - she won't put out otherwise because she's not that kind of woman, you see - she hits the panic button. If Jake finds out about Jasper and her, will her dreams of having a white wedding with Jake be dashed?

This one is written in the author's now typical sloppy style, with short sentences and even SENTENCES WRITTEN IN CAPS as if the whole thing is some kind of first draft that accidentally ended up being published in its embarrassing entirety. The characters from Sofie the dumb wench to her slutty best friend to the two men are all one-dimensional stereotypes. What does stand out is the author's caustic exaggeration of why men are men and women are women. For example, Sofie is so busy psychoanalyzing everything Jake said and did to her that she has to dragged to lunch or she will starve to death while moaning Jake's name again and again. Jake, however, spends ten seconds making sad faces before realizing that he is hungry, it's time for lunch, and so off he goes for some happy chow time. Jake's idea of dealing with what he believes is a broken relationship is to make a vow to forget Sofie and move on with life because, you know, he has better things to do than to deal with a lying skank. Sofie wails that she has pretty much nothing else to live for because she can't and will never forget Jake so oh, Jake, OH JAKE, JAAAAAKEEEE!

I feel quite depressed after reading this story. Women aren't really that pathetic when it comes to men, surely?

Jasmine Haynes presents Double The Pleasure, the first in two connected stories featuring twin sisters. This one is the "good" (read: unbelievably stupid) twin sister Kristin Prescott's story. She likes Ross Sloan, the boss whom she works for as the secretary, but she is convinced that everyone loves her "bad" sister Kirby so she has no chance until she has a make-over, and even then, she will excruciatingly worry whether Ross is diddling her because he thinks she is Kirby. Firstly, I get tired of trying to keep track of whether Kristin or Kirby is in a scene after ten pages into this story. Secondly, my god, can Kristin be any more a stereotype of the brain-damaged heroine with no self-esteem? Yes, she has a vibrator, but given how pathetic this woman is, I suspect that she uses the vibrator as a toilet plunger or something. Come to think of it, it will be great to see that vibrator shoved down Kristin's throat because she is really that annoying here with her neurotic insecurities and her pathetic insistence that Ross loves Kirby, not her.

Since Kirby is the slutty one, her story Skin Deep is so much more interesting than Kristin's, if only because this one consists almost entirely of sex scenes and no one is annoying me with tedious psychoanalyzing. Kirby is as much a stereotype as her sister in that Kirby's yet another sexually experienced woman with commitment issues, but she's not insulting me by flaunting her sexy body while wailing that she is pug-ugly, so hey, I'll take Kirby over Kristin any day. Kirby's boyfriend is Jack Taylor, her play-time buddy who is waiting for a chance to take their casual relationship to a higher level. My bias is obviously showing here, but I like this story the best due to the non-annoying characters and sex scenes that are actually erotic instead of being painful reminders that, somewhere out there, stupid people are actually breeding.

One out of three is pretty bad, if you ask me, especially given the price of this collection. Both authors have written better stories, so maybe, just like when it comes to boyfriends and husbands, you shouldn't settle for this kind mediocrity and instead seek out those better alternatives.

Rating: 49


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