Saturday, 15 February 2014

Latest Historical Review - Regency!

Two Peas in a Pod

Reviewed by Katie

This is a charming Regency for Valentine’s week.  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.