Title: Dual Image
Author: Nora Roberts
Publication Date: 1985
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My Rating: Four Stars
As "Amanda Jamison", Ariel Kirkwood suffered stoically through the daily traumas of a popular soap opera. She was adored by her loyal fans, as well as the real people in her life. Booth De Witt had written his greatest script: from the pain of a bitter marriage came a bitingly brilliant story. Ariel knew she wanted to play the scheming wife -- a complete change from her sweet daytime heroine. But Ariel the actress awakened the ghosts of Booth's past with her eerily perfect portrayal of his ex-wife . . . and Ariel the woman broke through his hardened cynicism, tempting him to love again.
I think one of my favorite things about this novel is that Ariel is the one who saves Booth. All too often in romantic literature, we see the white knight riding to the rescue of the wary maiden. In Roberts' Dual Image, the fair maiden saves the dark, brooding prince from himself.
Ariel's character is so extraordinary and engaging, I can't help but reread this book over and over (this isn't my first crack at Dual Image - it's one of my favorites). Ariel's free-spirited nature was a pleasure to read, but it hid a deeper, more intricate personality. I loved reading how she hid her secrets away from those who didn't know her, but Booth was the only one who saw through the facade. It was impossible to not be engaged by her bright personality, especially in light of the novel's plot.
In comparison to Ariel's lightness, Booth is dark as night. Every time his character appears on scene, a dark, brooding cloud isn't too far behind. For the most part, I felt that it was a nice juxtaposition to Ariel's optimism. Both characters border a little on the extreme, but without the other, it would be hard to relate to either.
My only issue with this book is that it is somewhat predictable. The evil ex-wife is, well, evil. Ariel is light and mischevious like the sprite she is named after, and Booth holds supreme over all other dark, brooding romantic heroes. There wasn't too much that surprised me about the plot, but the sweet romance kept me reading.
Final Thoughts: I wish that this story had been expanded from a small novella-esqe book to a full novel, like Roberts' The Witness. I feel that it could have had such a wonderful, strong plot if only Roberts had the wiggle room to expand the story and the characters' depth.