By Kathryn Brocato, author of The Look-Alike Bride, The Counterfeit Cowgirl, Georgie’s Heart, Sutherland’s Pride, and Old Christmas
If you search Amazon.com or Google for “twin romances,” you hit on what looks like a gazillion romances involving twin babies. For some reason, twin babies resonate with either the readers or the writers. Or maybe a cover featuring twin babies or toddlers automatically appeals to readers.
Twins fascinate youngsters, also. That’s probably why the Bobbsey Twins series, involving a family that includes two sets of fraternal twins, has been so popular with children for the past century. Hayley Mills starred as twins in a 1961 movie called The Parent Trap, in which the two girls run into each other at camp and realize they’re sisters who were separated as babies when their parents divorced. They change places in order to reunite their parents.
Indeed, one of the longtime favorites of readers is the situation resulting when one twin takes the place of the other and promptly finds herself “up to her ass in alligators.” A character who is “up to her ass in alligators” automatically appeals to readers because we wonder how on earth she’s ever going to get out of this one. When one twin steps in to take the other’s place, no matter how well she knows her twin, she can’t know everything. It’s those missing pieces that cause all the trouble.
The first twin romance I remember reading, one that is still an all-time favorite, is Georgette Heyer’s False Colours, a Regency novel in which the twins are male. Kit Fancot rushes home from his diplomatic post overseas because he feels his brother Evelyn, the Earl of Denville, is in some sort of trouble. He discovers Evelyn has disappeared, right in the midst of arranging a marriage of convenience designed to give him control of his inheritance so he can pay off his mother’s enormous debts. What can Kit do but step into Evelyn’s shoes and keep the delicate nuptial negotiations moving forward until his twin returns?
Another big favorite is Jane Aiken Hodges’ Savannah Purchase, a Regency era novel set in Savannah,Georgia. The “twins” here are look-alike cousins, daughters of identical twin sisters, who grew up together. The older girl, Josephine, marries a wealthy American in the aftermath of Napoleon’s defeat atWaterloo and leaves France. The younger cousin, Juliette, also arrives in America months later, penniless when her father dies, but Josephine arrives to offer help, provided Juliette agrees to help her in return. Josephine wants to buy a ship and rescue Napoleon from exile, but she needs someone to take her place in Savannah society. Since her marriage to handsome Hyde Purchis is in name only and Juliette needn’t worry about being found out, what can Juliette do but agree?
Another favorite is Molly Noble Bull’s contemporary Christian romance, Brides and Blessings. In this novel, featuring identical twin girls separated and adopted by different families, Holly Harmon is an ordinary church librarian, while Suzann Condry is a famous Hollywood movie actress. When the twins meet for the first time and get to know each other, Holly senses that Suzann is fed up with her life and needs a new direction. She suggests that the sisters exchange places in hopes that Suzann will find the Lord and regain her joy in life. Since Suzann really is having a personal crisis, what can she do but agree?
My latest Crimson Contemporary romance, The Look-Alike Bride, tells the story of Leonie Daniel, a quiet younger sister who, with hair color and makeup, can look exactly like her vivacious, outgoing older sister, Zara. Zara is a government agent who wants Leonie to take her place at her lakeside vacation cabin in case enemy agents are keeping tabs on her during a classified mission in the Middle East. When Leonie loses her job and the U.S. government offers her a hefty payment for spending a month at Zara’s lakeside cabin, vacationing and pretending to be Zara, what can Leonie do but agree?
Naturally, Leonie meets Adam Silverthorne, the man Zara wants, and Adam realizes right away that there’s something radically different about “Zara,” and he likes the difference. But hostile agents really are spying on Zara, and Leonie’s quiet lakeside vacation soon becomes a tightrope walk that might catapult her into heartbreak on one side and serious danger on the other.
That’s what readers like about twin romances. When twins change places, anything can happen, and if it involves romance and danger, reader enjoyment is increased tenfold. So pick up one of these twin romances soon and prepare to join the rest of us who love the idea of twins exchanging places.