This is the 1st of 2 readers’ reviews for this BREW Readers’ Choice Award – Romantic Fiction 2021/2022 winner by multi-award-winning author, Priscilla B Shuler.
“Two Can Play” by Priscilla B. Shuler has one of the most original premises I’ve read. And I’ve been reading nonstop for thirty years.
With a gorgeous home, four lovely kids, married to a successful doctor, and a housekeeper that puts Mary Poppins to shame, Carolyn should be living a charmed life. But she isn’t.
Carolyn finds herself at her wit’s end with a husband that’s serially unfaithful and plain cold, but that won’t grant her a divorce. In a small town where Donald’s family is very powerful, no lawyer in their sound mind would go against Dr. Jeffries’s wishes. What’s a woman to do? So Carolyn concocts an incredibly convoluted plan in which she’ll win Donald’s love, not to get him back but to force him into a divorce. How? I won’t spoil the fun for you! Let’s just say it involves a PI, a friendly bartender, an alter ego, and an outstanding amount of moxie.
First of all, this is an incredibly fun read. While this is not a “fairytale” rom-com, the author keeps the tone light, the dialogues authentic, and the pacing flowing in a way that makes this novel truly unputdownable. There’s simply not a single boring moment in the entire story.
Second, the character development is outstanding and, as the plot evolves, you’ll find yourself rooting for the unthinkable. Seeing grandma Grace going from cold wallflower to doting grandma gave me immense joy. Furthermore, the secondary characters are fully developed and, mostly, endearing. One gets to know their motives and to care for them. Louise and Duff, for example, are proof that for a genuine writer, no character is too insignificant.
I want to applaud the various kinds of female love this novel portrays. Lorena is a sister that’s also the sidekick every woman needs. Carolyn never treated Louise as “the help,” and her relationship with her mother-in-law shows that even in the hardest times, women are stronger when we lean on each other. Furthermore, it’s refreshing to read a realistic depiction of romantic love, a love that needs both people to grow and work in the relationship, instead of the idealized, unattainable version that we often see depicted in the media.
Finally, this is an incredibly empowering read that proves that one can achieve whatever one sets one’s mind on. While I don’t suggest we all take the drastic measures Carolyn did, I agree that “…many women are made to feel that they need to be ‘nice’ instead of free with their husbands.” We need to grab the happiness that’s ours even if it goes against the demure attitude that’s still expected from most women.
“Two Can Play” differs incredibly from the more serious historical novels that Mrs. Shuler usually writes, and it gave me immense pleasure seeing what an outstanding job she did even out of her area of expertise and, perhaps, of comfort. In my opinion, this proves that she, too, like Carolyn, can achieve whatever she sets her mind to.
Because of a surprising premise, a perfect pacing, an empowering message, and a masterful character development, I rate “Two Can Play” 5 out of 5 stars.
Anyone who needs a fun read, who believes in second chances, or who needs to be reminded of their power should read “Two Can Play” but, of course, this is a novel I would especially recommend to readers of romantic comedies and women’s fiction.
AF, 9 March 2022
- Title: Two Can Play
- Author: Priscilla B Shuler
- Genre: Romantic Comedy
- Publication Date: 20 November 2017
- ISBN or ASIN: B077NQ9ZSN
- Number of Words: Unknown
- Minimum Audience Age: 15
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 1
- Religious themes: 1
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 1
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 1
- Other adult themes: 1
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 4 stars
- Other factors: 5 stars
- Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Know more about Priscilla B Shuler via https://thechrysalisbrewproject.com/2021/11/16/meet-our-author-priscilla-b-shuler/.
View “Two Can Play” on Amazon.com.
View “Two Can Play” on Amazon.com.au.