What would you do if you found yourself in love with the twin brother of the man who murdered your sister?
Claire Copeland has just graduated from high school with no plans for her future other than getting laid and partying the summer away on Devil's
. Fork Lake
When her sister is murdered, Claire tries to understand why. Why the good daughter was taken, and she was left behind.
Now, she's found herself falling in love... with the twin brother of the man who murdered her sister.
Braden Sayer and his twin brother were incarcerated for murder when they were twelve years old. Braden's only connections to the outside world are through his uncle's visits and his pen pal Claire Copeland.
When Braden's released from juvie six months early for good behavior, his twin brother is less than happy about it and plots his revenge.
Now, he's fallen in love and by the time he figures out his brother's agenda, it may be too late.
Book Review: Blood and Sympathy by Lori L. Clark
“I know he’s blood and all, but blood is no reason for sympathy.”
Braden Sayer is the twin brother of Brogan Sayer. Implicated in Brogan’s arson scheme that killed their stepfather, Braden has also been incarcerated in juvenile detention since they were twelve. Now seventeen, Braden has his eye on early release for good behavior while Brogan has his eye on release by any means necessary.
Claire Copeland is only eleven months younger than her sister Olivia, and while their physical appearance often has them mistaken as twins, their personalities couldn’t be much different. 19 year old college student Olivia is the good girl, always intent to please their reverend father. 18 year old high school senior Claire is the “bad girl,” not above sneaking out and “borrowing” her sister’s car to party and have sex. But it’s Olivia who puts Claire in the orbit of the Sayer brothers through a pen pal program with the detention center.
Braden and Claire are matched as pen pals. The program’s policy is to state your intentions in the beginning whether a romantic relationship is part of the correspondence and despite Claire’s affirmed intentions not to make a love connection, she does. What Claire initially does out of obligation, soon become something they both look forward to. This part of the story is sweet and shows how simple friendship can lead to love. Braden’s letters even make Claire start to tire of her partying ways and her drunk, abusive lover.
The usual stereotypes of bad boy/good girl are switched up as Braden is the good twin, virginal, and a gentleman. In contrast, Claire is the experienced one who does what she wants, not caring what others think. Braden is a real sweetie. He’s caring, he’s gentle, and he wants to do the right thing. He’s definitely one to root for as he’s rather been dealt an unfair hand. Okay, he had my sympathy. Claire is a bit of a wild card. Sometimes that made her fun, other times her reckless behavior (unprotected sex, driving under the influence) was a turn-off.
The story has a good premise and potential. The family dynamics are interesting and lend further discussions of good/bad and right/wrong. Is Reverend Copeland really such an upstanding, holy man if he treats his daughters so differently and judges Braden without knowing him? Look also for the theme of mirroring: Braden and Brogan’s first time experiences post incarceration; Reverend Copeland and Uncle Jeb’s alliance with the good ones in their family.
Aside from the obvious themes in the story of good vs. evil and nature vs. nurture, guilt and blame also play a major role. Events in the story unfold in ways that responsibility could be analyzed and argued.
Should Braden carry blame for his “sympathy?” Is Claire’s lifestyle and choices at fault for putting her sister in danger? Or was Olivia Copeland’s innocent involvement in the pen pal program ultimately the first chain in the events leading to her demise? Who has blood on their hands?
There were times I found Braden and Claire’s actions confusing/out of character or perhaps more plot driven than anything else. To avoid spoilers I’ll simply say that maybe Braden under-reacted and Claire over-reacted. I really felt that Claire misplaced blame, and it affected my fundamental like of her character in the end. And the ending, while complete, and technically happy, leaves open the possibility for more mayhem to come.
But judge for yourself…pick up a copy today of Blood and Sympathy. Who will you have sympathy for?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lori L. Clark was born in
where she spent the first forty-six years of her life. In 2007, she loaded up a
moving van and relocated to Missouri,
where she currently resides. Lori's only child is a very spoiled Min Pin named
Barkley. When not writing, she reads and runs. She completed her first half
marathon at the age of fifty.