First-time author Schonbeck offers a romance tale based around a great taboo.
Shortly into the book, Schonbeck delivers a shock to her readers—protagonist Rose is in love with her brother Robert, and her feelings are not unrequited. There’s nothing to mitigate the situation—they are not long-lost siblings, nor were they separated at birth, distant in age or raised thousands of miles apart. They are a brother and a sister as most readers understand those terms, and they are in love. While the author smartly takes care to keep intimate scenes from becoming graphic, interspersing other scenes with the love scenes between Rose and Robert, which keeps sensitive readers from rejecting the book outright based on its controversial subject matter, she does not shy away from much in her handling of this incestuous relationship. Rose wants to be with her brother, and she’s willing to pay whatever the price might be. Robert, on the other hand, thinks that their attraction, and any relationship stemming from it, is wrong and he resists pursuing it. His resistance, however, does not stop him from having several passionate nights with Rose. As the story progresses, Rose and Robert, who are both lawyers, find themselves on opposite sides of a dangerous drug-trafficking case. Schonbeck expertly builds the narrative’s tension, between the siblings and in the case, and Rose and Robert’s precarious situation becomes increasingly dangerous. Despite being involved in such a culturally inappropriate romance, these are believable characters who have friends, try to date other people, enjoy their work and relate to their family. In this sense, the author grounds the novel in realism rather than relying on the shock value of incest to keep the pages turning. Schonbeck writes the romance well while also building and holding a dramatic tension that must, and does, eventually break in the only way that it could.
For readers who can swallow their repulsion at the idea of incest, this is a romantic, thoughtful read that could make them reconsider the meaning of love.