The Unknown Twin
The Unknown Twin has a somewhat far-fetched premise, but readers who can get past that should find the sweet romance and likable characters make up for it.
Lauren Conway moved to Courage Bay, California, to advance her career as a cartoonist. The local newspaper agreed to let her write her own comic strip, based on herself and her brasher, more daring alter ego. Two weeks into the job while Lauren works late, a fire breaks out in the building. Passed out from smoke inhalation, she is rescued by the fire department, and fire chief Alex Shields.
Alex immediately recognizes the woman he pulled from the burning building. She’s Dana Ivie, a fellow firefighter and one of his closest friends. But why is she in town when she’s supposed to be away at a conference? The misunderstanding is soon cleared up and Alex realizes this is a different woman. But what are the chances there’s another woman who looks exactly like Dana but isn’t related to her?
Lauren knows she’s an only child. She’s seen the video of her birth. She’s not really interested in Alex’s quest to explain her resemblance to his friend, but she is interested in him. Shy, quiet Lauren usually dates bookish guys she seems compatible with, so someone like the strong, athletic Alex is completely foreign to her. In spite of her misgivings, they are drawn together. But Alex once dated Dana, and Lauren has to wonder if he’s really interested in her or a surrogate for the woman who could be her twin.
This is a somewhat goofy premise that is kind of hard to swallow. It seems like a huge coincidence that out of all the places in the world, Lauren would just happen to move to the same town as the woman who looks exactly like her. She actually moves to Courage Bay because that’s where her college roommate now lives. It’s not that big of a town, yet her friend has never seen this woman who looks like Lauren and mentioned it to her? It’s also hard to believe that in the two weeks prior to the fire that Lauren lives in Courage Bay, no one mentions there’s this other woman who’s lived there all her life and looks like her. There are some weak explanations (one person says that he assumed Lauren and Dana were related, but when she didn’t mention it, he figured she didn’t want to talk about it. Uh huh.), but considering Dana grew up in Courage Bay, you’d think someone would have noticed when her doppelganger moved to town.
But beyond that, the book does contain a sweet love story. Alex and Lauren are both engaging and likable characters. Shy characters don’t often come across very well in romances, but I liked Lauren a great deal. She’s the kind of person who wishes she were more daring and willing to take chances than she is. She uses her comic strip to express everything she wishes she could do, which was a nice touch. She’s a sympathetic character who’s easy to relate to. Alex is a good hero, a decent man who is immediately attracted to Lauren and pursues her despite their obvious differences. Their differences are nicely played, like when they each try to learn the others’ interests, which doesn’t always go according to plan.
This is a low-key romance, lacking any major drama but full of good character moments. There are false starts and misunderstandings, sweet interludes and emotional scenes. Their relationship feels natural and real. Not everything goes well or as the reader might hope. There were times I was frustrated by their choices or wished things were going differently. But that’s what made it feel more realistic. Alex and Lauren’s great chemistry seemed to click in a way that made it easy to want to see them together.
The mystery is fairly mild. It pops up every once in a while, but remains very much a subplot. It’s very predictable and there are no real surprises, despite the author’s attempt to cloud the issue by throwing a few additional characters who seem suspicious into the mix. The villain is obvious. The explanation is obvious. This is definitely a book to read more for the romance than the suspense plot.
The premise may be weak, but The Unknown Twin does contain a nicely effective love story. The third prequel to the Code Red series, the book stands on its own and nicely builds anticipation for the upcoming series. I’m already looking forward to it.