Clare London - Romancing The Wrong Twin
Release Date: November 1 2016
Length: 59,000 words
How tangled can a romantic web get?
When gruff mountaineer Dominic Hartington-George seeks sponsorship for his latest expedition, his London PA insists on a more media-friendly profile—like dating celebrity supermodel Zeb Z.
Zeb can’t make the date, so he asks his identical twin, Aidan, to stand in for just one evening. Aidan, a struggling playwright, shuns the limelight to the extent people don’t even know Zeb has a sibling, but he reluctantly agrees.
When the deception has to continue beyond the first date, Aidan fights to keep up the pretense. Dominic likes his sassy, intelligent companion, and Aidan starts falling for the forthright explorer. But how long can Aidan’s conscience cope as confusion abounds? Will coming clean as “the other twin” destroy the trust they’ve built?
“I can’t help that,” she’d said crisply. “Your father and his ancestors have never had a head for money. If I hadn’t invested what money I brought to the family in property, we’d be living on the charity of others by now.”
Dom had almost bitten his tongue in half, trying not to point out that his high-handed mother hadn’t engendered any charitable feelings in anyone he’d ever met. “I’m not asking for charity. When my book comes out, I’ll be able to repay a lot of the debts.”
Or so his publisher had told him. They’d been thrilled with the photos from previous expeditions, but he had to finish the current climbing program before they’d consider a release slot.
“Well, don’t come to me,” she’d said. “I barely have enough to maintain a decent social calendar in town. Can’t you find some rich man to support your wandering ways?” She managed to make it sound as if he were philandering rather than mountaineering. His parents might have accepted him being gay, but they still had some pretty deeply ingrained prejudices about the “lifestyle.”
“It doesn’t work like that,” he snapped. “At least, not for me.”
His mother’s look had been odd. “Do you mean to tell me you’re a romantic at heart, just like your father?”
Dom had been startled. Somehow he’d never considered his imposing, adventurous father as a hearts-and-flowers man.
“Oh, not toward me.” At seeing the look on his face, she’d sighed rather bitterly. “The romance was all for his beloved mountains.”
“I’m not like that,” Dom had protested.
He had more to offer, didn’t he? He could offer a man something other than holding the fort back at home while he, Dom, traveled the world and conquered the elements. If he found a man he wanted to make those sacrifices for, of course.
Unbidden, Zeb’s face popped into his mind. And when he refocused on where he was and what he was doing, he found he was holding a dishcloth in his right hand and—inexplicably—a single egg in the other. His mind was so far off-kilter he was scaring himself.
Well, there was only one thing for it. He had to make this right, and not just for the sponsors either. He glanced around but couldn’t see where he’d slung his phone. He ought to see if Zeb had replied to his text—if he’d even acknowledged him. But maybe he’d go around to Zeb’s agency first and see if he could find the model there. That had to be better than a bald message.
Yes, that was a decent plan.
He grabbed his jacket and flung open his front door, where a blizzard of flashbulbs assaulted him.
“Dom, are you going to meet Zeb Z?”
The photographers hung over his front hedge, regardless of any potential damage to the foliage or their clothes. Dom made a mental note to ask the young man who did his garden maintenance whether they could embed barbed wire in the shrubbery. Reporters called eagerly from behind the cameras, as if Dom would be remotely interested in engaging with them. He would rather have torn off his left arm and fed it to a passing dog. Or perhaps a reporter’s arm would be more rewarding, for both the dog and Dom.
“Dom! Over here, let’s have a shot!”
“How long have you two been dating? What do you talk about?”
“Is he in charge of your wardrobe now?”
“Dom, how about a word for our readers?”
Dom drew a deep, deep breath. He wouldn’t normally censor the actual word he was tempted to give “our readers,” but Tanya’s words about taking it easy rang clearly in his memory. He suddenly imagined Zeb’s face after reading the headlines in the gossip press if Dom actually spewed the profanities he was currently thinking.
A feeling even more bizarre…. Dom couldn’t ever remember worrying what a man thought of him before doing exactly what he bloody well wanted.
He struggled through the crowd toward his SUV, with his lips pursed shut and sporting the most intimidating frown he could manage. He slammed the door temptingly near a reporter’s hand and revved the engine until they all scattered out of his way.
“Is he in charge of your wardrobe now?”
Deliciously OTT (suspend your disbelief) shenanigans when one twin stands in for the other one, who happens to be a famous model, while pseudo-dating a gruff mountain climber for publicity and funding.
Dominic, the mountain man, is a mountain of a man, with lots of hair all over, which appeals quite a bit to Aidan, the non-famous twin, who's a struggling playwright doing his brother a huge favor.
Posing as Zeb Z., Aidan goes on one reluctant date that then turns into more dates, and slowly but surely falls for the mountain man. Dominic, so wary of the celebrity model, finds that Aidan (Zeb) is much deeper than expected, and slowly but surely falls as well.
Except then the funding comes through, and Dominic sets out to climb the Eiger, and Aidan thinks he's been dismissed and their budding romance is over.
I really loved reading this book. It has the fake relationship trope, which is so well done here, and also uses the twin factor to score extra points. Lots of dry humor and snark in this book as well, which really appeals to me, and some funny moments when Aidan has to do things Zeb would do, and feels completely out of his depth. Zeb and Aidan were very different people, but also very supportive of each other. Aidan wanted to make it on his own, and refused his brother's offers of money, which made me like him more. And Dominic is, while gruff on the outside, starting to show a softer side when he's with Aidan, something he doesn't let many people see. He's a grinchy Grinch, but his heart grows three sizes in this book. His long-suffering PA and her assistant don't know what to do with a Dominic who smiles and laughs.
There's also a bit of a side plot that might turn into another book, what with Zeb and his agent, but we'll see if the author goes that route.
Seriously, this was a ton of fun, but it also had its quiet and somewhat angsty moments. There's a scene toward the end, when Dominic sees something that sets him off, which then sets in motion a sequence of events leading to the happily ever after. Like I said in one of my updates - oh what a tangled web we weave when first we set out to deceive. But they get their happy ending, because this is a romance after all.
The writing is fabulous, and the story flows without any lulls or time jumps. The book was over before I knew it, and I was kind of sad that it ended.
An excellent addition to the Dreamspun Desires series. This book is well worth your time.
** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **
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She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter three stage and plenty of other projects in mind... she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
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