Saturday, April 5, 2014

Two Peas in a Pod by D.W. Wilkin

Note:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My Experience:  A
Synopsis:   Love is something that can not be fostered by deceit even should one's eyes betray one's heart.  Two brothers that are so close in appearance that only a handful have ever been able to tell them apart. The Earl of Kent, Percival Francis Michael Coldwell is only older than his brother, Peregrine Maxim Frederick Coldwell by 17 minutes. They may have looked as each other, but that masked how they were truthfully quite opposite to one another.  For Percy, his personality was one that he was quite comfortable with and more than happy to let Perry be of a serious nature. At least until he met Veronica Hamilton, the daughter of Baron Hamilton of Leith. She was only interested in a man who was serious. Once more, Peregrine is obliged to help his older brother by taking his place, that the Earl may woo the young lady who has captured his heart. That is, until there is one who captures Peregrine's heart as well.

This is a charming Regency.  The brothers Coldwell are both struggling to reacquaint themselves not only with family, but just who they are and what direction to take with their lives, post war.  Though neither is excited by their elder sister’s machinations for matrimony, the inevitable happens and they are besotted and yes, confused by hopes, doubts and possibilities.  But after a declaration of one of the misses that she could never consider the elder, the brothers hatch a plan that makes their sister’s look tame.  The farce that follows is amusing yet handled with care.

Normally stories of twins exchanging identities makes me cringe but Mr. Wilkin pulls it off with the feel of a Shakespearean comedy laced with enough reality to prevent it from becoming too ridiculous.  He deftly uses the truth of scars unseen and facts of life at the time to balance the humor and what could have been cruelty on the part of the brothers.  The ladies, not to be outdone, plot a counter attack that even Wellington could never have imagined.  Beatrice and Benedict would have danced at the weddings in perfect charity.

I love stories that contain more than one romance.  That family and friends - the kind we all want to be and have - do not live their life in an isolated story line used to translate well to the written tale.  It is a fact of modern fiction that we expect One Great Hero and One Awesome Heroine per story with nods to the secondary characters that might have their own book, later, if sales are good.  I’m not sure if that’s due to reader preference or the fear of writers and publishers.  Either way, I am always delighted to find an author willing to flesh out a well crafted story of more than one couple, especially when they make me laugh!

For several generations, we’ve been romanced in fiction by wonderful authors explaining their view of how women believe men think and feel.  Mr. Wilkin provides a generous glimpse of a man’s perspective in a formulaic genre that is quite consistent with the literature of the era while mindful of his modern audience.  I can only hope more men are as bold and more women alert to the subtle differences in perspective that remind us all just how romantic the differences can be.  This is definitely a keeper for my bookshelf.

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