Not even his status as a peer is enough for Dominic Huntington-George to finance his latest climb: Eiger. The family money ran out long ago; now, Dominic’s personal assistant is suggesting he make a grab at fame courtesy of an arranged public appearance—a “date” if you will—with one of the most in-demand male models. The set-up is innocuous enough. Dominic wants to catch the eye of potential sponsors and, apparently, the model Zeb Z goes through men on a virtually weekly basis. Ultimately, the date is set.
Except Zeb Z encounters a personal matter that requires his attention. Stuck with a public commitment, he appeals to his identical twin brother, Aidan—a struggling playwright who’s made sure to avoid even the slightest sliver of his brother’s limelight catching him. Although Aidan is wary of playing a switcheroo, he can’t deny the gig would help tide him over until he can regroup from yet another set-back getting him and his theatre troupe on an honest to God stage.
It was supposed to be one night. A movie premier, drinks afterwards, and a few glamour shots for the paparazzi. Neither Dominic nor Aidan (as Zeb) imagined there would be a spark…but the chemistry is clear and present. Aidan has not only assumed his brother’s wardrobe, but takes on some of the personal qualities he associates both with his brother and a man constantly in the public eye—he is assertive and in control. Dominic likes the confidence he sees, but also the glimpses of someone much more than just a pretty face.
When their one-shot date gets extended into a multi-week arrangement, both Dominic and Aidan are cautiously optimistic that, despite appearances, there just might be something to build a real connection upon. The longer the deception goes on, however, the higher the stakes. For Dominic, it could mean the difference between landing funding and missing out. For Aidan, however, it’s much bigger—not only does he have to contend with the constant awareness he’s pretending to be his world-famous model of a brother, he has to contend with his heart and the inevitable fall out when the man he’s falling in love with discovers he’s not Zeb Z but…just Aidan.
Overall, I wasn’t too enamored of this book. London clearly puts a lot of effort into describing the characters, and the plot is well-crafted. For the first three-quarters of the book, I didn’t get the impression the action and behaviors of the various players was forced. That said, there were a couple of glaring inconsistencies. For example, once Aidan has to start interacting with people who think he is Zeb, Aidan begins to behave more assertively, with more confidence and strength. When the shit hits the fan at the end of the book, however, the narrator states that “Aidan had rarely seen his twin so authoritative.”
Another was a potential plot twist that I admit, I was excited about. The reason Zeb cannot do the appearance with Dominic is because his wrangler/manager has to go to Switzerland for a medical treatment. While the real Zeb is off in Switzerland, we learn that Dominic (with funding for his climb secured) will be going to Switzerland for conditioning. I was all squee! just knowing that this is how the whole Zeb/Aidan thing was going to get blown sky high! Except, nothing happened. Dominic went to Switzerland, climbed the mountain, and came back to great praise for a job well done. There big reveal happened in a wholly different manner. What bothers me about this is that London bothers to send Zeb/agent to Switzerland…which seems odd, even for characters based in England, to then not use that to help push the story’s conflict.
I also felt disappointed with the campy way the big reveal got resolved. That in and of itself isn’t horribly disappointing; however, I would have liked at least some on-page time with just our two MC hashing out their feelings. More disappointing, however, is that Aidan was definitely tailoring his very person to better match with with Zeb’s (sure, it wasn’t perfect; sure, he actively starts to play a much more low-key Zeb once it’s clear the arrangement is going to be a few weeks long). Yet when the truth comes out, Dominic is adamant that he knows and loves the real Aidan. That was something I didn’t feel he could claim given we know Aidan is intentionally modifying his behavior. Granted, we don’t get inundated with tons of on-page time where Aidan’s constantly talking about how he’s putting on airs, but we definitely get enough…and at plenty of non-public situations between the two, that Dominic’s claim rings utterly false.
The characters are fairly enjoyable. While not deeply developed, they do have clear, distinct voices. There’s a sizable cast of supporting characters; Aidan’s figures most prominently into the mix and lend a better sense of who he is outside his moonlighting persona. Having more on-page time with the twins would have better established them as individuals and helped the reader understand how much Aidan was modulating his behavior.
London does a credible job building tension through the action of the book. Much on-page time was dedicated to detailing their first encounter and the ensuing “date,” which helped show off the hot-cold dynamic that runs between Aidan and Dominic. There are a handful of other scenes that flesh out the rest of the time Aidan pretends to be Zeb and goes out with Dominic. Unfortunately, these aren’t as fleshed out as the initial scenes—which is a shame, because that’s where most of the romance happens. The beef here is that, given that the engagement is only a few weeks in length, glossing over even several days leaves the reader dependent on the narrator to substantiate what the MCs are feeling. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see that unfold on-page in all its glory.
On the whole, if this premise appeals to you, I think you’ll find this worth your while.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.