We have a very specific Rec League from Sarah Drew, that kind of stumped us:
Twins. Specifically (if possible) the overlooked twin winning through. I’m Scottish and therefore really keen on underdogs. Twins preferred, siblings if there is real rivalry (at least on one side). Specific, much?
Sarah: So, like Jacob Have I Loved with a More Better ending?
Maya: SHIT way to take me back to my growing up in Maryland youth.
Maya: No, it’s good, I just have thought about that book in like 25 years.
Carrie: I was OBSESSED by it when I was a kid.
Sarah: It made me MAD.
Maya: Yeah, I don’t think I ever got over her bestie marrying her sister.
Carrie: I’m still pissed at that shitty grandma.
Sarah: I am pestering my tired brain for underdog twin books.
Carrie: Didn’t Sweet Valley High have twins?
Tara: SVH sure did.
Sarah: It did but the SVH twins were…well no maybe that fits.
Elizabeth was kind of an underdog. And also kind of a doormat, but I don’t think she ever really “won.” Jessica was a sociopath.
Tara: At least.
Aarya: I can think of many underdog siblings but not twins. Hmm. Let me browse and come back to this.
Naima Simone’s Scoring with the Wrong Twin. Heroine is asked to impersonate her identical twin sister at a model photoshoot. Sophia feels like an underdog compared to her sister, but they share a good/loving relationship (not rivals, but definitely overlooked/underdog). She feels self-conscious because no one pays attention to her once they meet the celebrity sister.
I’m not the biggest football fan, but Simone’s football books are excellent and I’d rec the entire trilogy. This book has a MAJOR deception element that doesn’t get resolved for a long time, so YMMV if that’s a dealbreaker.
Elyse: The only twin books I remember were old skool historicals that were suuuuuper problematic.
Aarya: Oof. My memory is terrible, but I think there is a sex scene in the Simone book while the deception is still occurring. I remember enjoying the book and it didn’t raise red flags at the time… but yeah, you’re so right about the problematic aspect (I think this occurs A LOT in false/mistaken identity trope).
In this book, at least, Sophia’s not deceiving for the intention of sex. Her sister asked her to pretend for a day (the sister committed to two modeling gigs and she can’t back out). So Sophia goes to the photoshoot and runs into the athlete hero. Chemistry, bam, one-night stand, and they part ways until they meet again.
I realize how bananas/problematic/ridiculous this premise sounds, but I liked the book! Eek. Okay, so I’d still recommend it with the caveat that deception sex is not okay and might be a dealbreaker.
Catherine: Hmm, what about False Colours, by Georgette Heyer? It’s not quite an underdog twin situation, but Kit is the younger son and his brother is the heir who disappears, and so Kit impersonates him so that the betrothal the family is trying to arrange doesn’t fall through. Premise is a bit alarming, but Kit does undertake the deception mostly to save the would-be-fiancée from embarrassment, and I think she cottons to things pretty fast. I haven’t read this book for a few years, and it’s Heyer, so please be aware of the usual caveats about racism/antisemitism in her work and take this recommendation with a grain of salt (I don’t recall anything specific, but it really has been a while)… but all that said, I always liked this one a lot – Kit and Cressy are both kind, pragmatic people with a good sense of humour about themselves, and it’s a very sweet romance. And younger twin winds up with the heiress while the elder twin… well, you’ll see.
Aarya: Why on earth do all these twin/sibling books have a deception/impersonation storyline? I’m sensing a theme here.
Shana: How about A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner? The hero, Solomon, is a tailor, and his twin is a fabulous spy, so I think this meets the underdog request. There’s some deception from the spy, unsurprisingly, but the heroine isn’t the target. She’s a famous courtesan who runs a hotel, and unassuming Solomon has an uphill battle to melt her ice queen tendencies.
This makes me want to reread it, few books makes me as happy as that one does.
Claudia: In Mary Balogh’s Indiscreet, the hero has a twin brother and that older-by-seconds twin is the titled man. Not exactly underdog material but some. A major part of the plot is that the heroine confuses the two at first and, thinking the hero is the man she knows, she’s friendly to the newcomer who then thinks she’s “easy.” I love this book and it was one of the first I read that the hero owns up to his initial awfulness and grovels to a good, satisfying extent.
Sarah: There’s def twins. Amanda and Amelia?
Claudia: Sounds right…
Any suggestions that really capture this Rec League request?