The Abbott Sisters, Book 1
Heat Factor: Mostly closed door, but not 100% (in case you’re squeamish)
Character Chemistry: In the way of love based on a lie, the chemistry was aces
Plot: Pretty close to exactly what you’d expect
Overall: I alternated between rage and euphoria
Let’s do a contemporary take on Dukes, I said. Billionaires are basically contemporary Dukes. Billionaires are a whole romance thing! We’ll see what happens. I was prepared not to be impressed on account of the twin swap dishonest beginnings trope and the marriage of convenience trope and the billionaire all rolled into one literary package. (20,000 dukes – fine, 20,000 billionaires – NOT FINE. lol.) Also, the paragraph formatting of my ARC was not good, so that was distracting, and I hope that gets sorted out for final publication. Anyway–the short story is that I went into this book like a huge snob.
Maybe I’m too removed from money (new money, old money, whatever), but the notion that a billionaire entrepreneur would include marriage in a merger in the present day seems a little out there. So I guess it’s not surprising that the twin who was supposed to be the bride runs away, leaving the naive twin to take her place. That may seem harsh to our heroine, Holly, but we need to be honest with ourselves. It takes a special level of naivete to know your dad is a manipulative narcissist and still to believe his reasoning when he asks you to lie to someone. Especially when you also work at the company your family owns. So. Eventually, as the relationship is becoming something real to our protagonists, Davies makes a case for why Julian, our hero, would want a marriage like this. And it does include trust issues and also business goals. But does he really need marriage for the business goals? Eh?
I knew all of this and pretty nearly every moment of the plot the whole way. And you know what? I want to read the book about the sister and I’m bummed it’s not even teased on Davies’s website yet. Yeah. Because Davies just reeled me right in, and once I started I couldn’t stop.
For one, Holly and Julian are good, kind-hearted people. In the context of who they actually are, it’s a little ridiculous. Julian is a self-made billionaire (from the foster system, no less). He didn’t get to be a billionaire by being a nice guy. Yeah, Davies makes comments here and there about how someone would see just how cold and businesslike he could be, but nah. Likewise, Holly is all mousy and wallflower-y. She’s the identical twin of a confident, hot socialite, but somehow she’s a nobody. Because her sister got all of their grandmother’s inheritance? Mmkay.
So I am arguing that there’s definitely a degree of suspension of disbelief. But if you can wrap your head around it, this book works because Davies’s prose does a nice job of growing a relationship that totally wants to work between a nice guy who went into an arranged marriage for entirely selfish and mercenary reasons and the nice woman who’s lying to him. The prose isn’t totally perfect, though. There’s a totally made-up word in there, posing as a real word. It’s not even slang.
At first, the relationship is supposed to be between two people living their separate lives, so when Holly and Julian meet for the first time, Holly is trying simultaneously to avoid Julian and also not to close any doors for her sister, should Lillian wish to come back and actually go through with the wedding. Naturally, Julian’s interest is captured by the mousy twin because she is refreshing and challenging, and he suggests that they date. This sets the ball rolling for Holly and Julian to build a real relationship with each other, with Julian in particular thinking this is going way better than he’d ever imagined. I found it somewhat refreshing that for her part, Holly (thanks to her friend) seriously considers early on whether or not she wants to try to build a relationship with Julian that could weather the storm of discovery. Because what they have is real.
There is a fine line between eye-rolling and the aforementioned euphoria throughout the book. I fell on the line of euphoria because I am a sucker for a romance between characters with good chemistry and just enough not-completely-stupid drama.
So where does the rage I mention above come from? The stupid drama. Dishonest beginnings = stupid drama 100% of the time. Because invariably when one character starts to lie, stopping the lie becomes increasingly impossible. We get lucky in this book because Davies gives us a twofer. Not only does Julian find out about the lie, but also, before that happens, the twins test him. And because people do not voice every thought or doubt in their heads, Julian fails their test. And I wanted to throw my phone across the room, but I turned the pages instead because → sucker.
Anyway, this would not be a good choice for readers with a low tolerance for the ridiculous and/or readers who have a hard time with suspension of disbelief. For my part, as I said, I can’t wait for the next book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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