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HaBO: What is it with twins in romance, anyway?

AnonyMiss writes:

First romance I ever read (aside: were we all skulking around the public library at the age of 12? Did anyone else hide theirs in the closet? (I thought under the mattress was too obvious))… There was a good twin and a bad twin. Good twin falls in love with Hero, who is clearly an idiot cause he keeps getting the two confused. He rolls in the hay (as I recall, there was literally a hay sequence somewhere in this book) with one of them, thinking it’s the other one. Anyway, Good Twin gets pregnant with his child, he is scornful thinking she sleeps around (and he doesn’t??? MEN!), some other junk happens. The memorable part (remember, I was 12!) was the scene between Hero and Good-Twin-That-We-Thought-Was-Evil-Yet-Are-Still-Mysteriously-Attracted-To.

Anyway after the birth of the kid, when his ministrations cause her to leak milk in his face. He says something masculine like, “Oops, better save that for someone else” and proceeds to another part of her body that hopefully won’t blind him (although breastmilk is excellent for eye infections, but I digress).

Even at 12 I couldn’t understand why Good Twin didn’t just TELL HIM THE TRUTH. Both idiots. They deserved each other.

It was definitely a Zebra historical (they were all I read – I liked the hologram).

Seriously, what is it with twins in romance? And which is more badder, the bad twin or the bad mom?


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  1. 1
    ibm says:

    I’m a twin and have suffered from the good twin / bad twin cultural meme all my life. It’s usually the second question people ask (after ‘can you read each other’s minds?’). My favourite twin romance is ‘False Colours’ by Georgette Heyer. Although Kit is clearly more dependable; the other twin, whose name escapes me right now, is more dashing. Otherwise they are alike in many ways. I particularly like the way that it is clear that the twins themselves love each other dearly. As usual, well played Mrs Heyer :-) In case you were wondering – I am the Evil Twin :-)

  2. 2
    canadacole says:

    Darn it, I think I read this one!  Weren’t the twins orphaned?  And they had to go stay with an aunt?  And the hero had to escort them but he was late for pickup or some such thing?  He was a tool from the start.  And now it’s going to make me crazy until someone comes up with the title.  Argh!  Hope this one is solved quickly!

  3. 3
    MamaNice says:

    The bad twin rolling in the hay with the hero sounds familiar…but I also probably read it when I was 12…and yes, I loved the Zebra hologram historicals (blame it on all the Jem cartoons or something)…I remember riding my bike to the library and loading up on books off the romance carousels…and trying to act cool when I went to the front desk to check them out.
    Where was self-checkout back then?

  4. 4
    Terry Odell says:

    I’m a mother of twins, and one still refers to herself as ‘the evil twin’ although they’re both great kids.  I don’t like books with twins in them if it’s just for a plot contrivance. One of those places where stereotypes seem to overrule reality, I guess.

  5. 5
    Beki says:

    I was the oldest of four kids, always referred to as the good one and always wanted so bad to be BAD!  So I tend to hate the whole good twin/bad twin thing.  It doesn’t ring true to me, per se.

    Plus, when it’s a matter of getting one twin confused for the other in fiction, where are these people’s sense of smell?  Everyone smells different to everyone else, right?  Twins don’t automatically smell exactly alike, so far as my research has shown.  And by research, I mean sniff-testing my twin cousins.

  6. 6
    Brooks*belle says:

    Funny observations Sarah!

    I can tell you for darn sure that my DH would know beyond a shadow of a doubt if he was rolling around in the hay with my sister—even from day one of meeting us! LOL.

    As an identical twin I can heartily say that I LOATHE how media/authors/entertainment industry stereotype twins!  Unfortunately, many people fall into the same trap and feel the need to divide and categorize twins too.

    For instance, I’ve always “known” that I was the: pretty, fat, better-haired, patient, lazy, nice, gap-toothed twin.  My poor sister was the: slim, mean, less-attractive, hard-working, chaste, and bookish twin.  Nice, huh!? ;o)

    The ONLY book I’ve read where I was okay with the twin thing was “Only in your Arms” by Lisa Kleypas.  Ha ha—turned the evil/good twin thing on it’s head and realized that they were just different AND it acknowledged the harm that can be done to twins when compared and contrasted by others.

    But all the stares and stupid comments my sister and I had to deal with growing up just made us more empathetic people.

    That and made us feel absolutely NO guilt the few times we pulled off a switcheroo on people!!

  7. 7

    I never thought about the twin thing in romance, but I’ve definitely noticed it in soap operas. They are FULL of twins! And one is always, always evil. If anyone is directly responsible for perpetuating that myth, it’s got to be daytime TV.

  8. 8

    Don’t forget the Wakefield twins! To this day, my sister and I joke that she’s Jessica and I’m Elizabeth, even though I’m five years older.

  9. 9
    Ros says:

    @ibm Kit’s twin is Evelyn, and I agree, they are really a great pair in the ways they are so different as well as the ways they are similar (their fierce protectiveness of their mother, for instance).  And I love that the heroine works out which is which without having to be told.

  10. 10
    Jody W. says:

    If one were to write a triplet romance with good and evil taken by the first and second born, what does that leave the poor runt of the litter? Schizo, I guess.

    I pubbed a pnr romance with Samhain in which the heroine was the “bad” (well, ill-behaved) twin. There was a set of 4 fey in that story (almost all fey in that world have littermates, so to speak) who were ALL rotten. They might have to make a reappearance in the sequel. I like rotten characters, they cuss more.

  11. 11
    Midknyt says:

    If it wasn’t for the zebra thing and the possibly not old enough, I would say it was A Man to Call My Own by Johanna Lindsey.  (Which I hated and tossed against a wall myself).

    There’s a good twin, an evil twin (who gets over the evil thing), it’s a western, and the first time they get it on is in the hay, in a stable, to be exact.  And because the quiet, good twin is all of sudden not shy when they are getting their groove on, he thinks he was wrong and it had to be the other one.  The evil one hears them and him calling her twin the wrong name, and plays along with it because she’s, well, evil.

    If you can’t find the real book, it sounds like almost the same story and might cover your fix.

  12. 12
    MamaNice says:

    Midknyt…I don’t know if that’s the one she’s looking for – but it is def. the twin/roll in the hay one I was thinking of – I clearly remember the scene as you describe it. In my youthful days of reading romance (junior high) I read alot of Lindsey…she was easy to find at the library!

  13. 13
    Anony Miss says:

    Thanks for all the comments so far, but it’s definitely not the Lindsay – that came out in 2003 and I read this when I was 12 or so, which makes it, um, 1989? 1990? 1991?

    It for sure had a clinch cover – they all did! And the hologram, of course.

    I may be remembering the hay roll from another book, but the evil twin / good twin / spontaneous breastmilk is FOR SURE together.

    -Anony Miss, currently nursing her second child :)

  14. 14
    Anony Miss says:

    Also, forgot, MAJOR thanks to SB Sarah for posting my HaBO.

    And gosh, if I stump the SB’s, do I get a prize??

  15. 15
    Katherine C. says:

    I have no idea what book this is — I’ve not really read a lot of evil/good twin stories — but count me in the crowd that skulked around the library with the forbidden “trashy” books you had to keep your parents from finding. And yes, I often hid mine in the closet.

  16. 16
    MamaNice says:

    That Lindsey book came out in 2003…really?!? That was when my first child was born, and I know I wasn’t reading Lindseys then…so what the hell did I read and could 2 books have plot scenarios THAT similar?!?

    Hmmm….yes…they can.

  17. 17
    Sarah says:

    I’m sure I read this about the same time and the same circumstances, but I have no idea what it is, either.  Other than the Wakefield twins, the Twin books that I most remember are Twin of Ice and Twin of Fire.  I too hid books in the closet, usually in a box or a bag.  I was paranoid.

  18. 18
    Sandra says:

    I remember reading A Man To Call My Own.  The ‘hero’ was such a halfwit that he didn’t notice the sisters were twins because the ‘good’ one wore her hair in a bun and had glasses.  There are soooo many books featuring identical twins that you’d think they were really common.  One I enjoyed was The Unexpected Bride by Elizabeth Rolls.  The hero marries the ‘wrong’ twin, who happens to be blind!  He never stopped to wonder why she walked down the aisle holding onto the collar of her seeing-eye dog.  Spamword Pressure83, as in “The fans are under a lot of pressure to come up with the title of that book.  Maybe answer #83 will be the right one.”

  19. 19
    Sabrina says:

    No idea on this one, but try if your looking for twin stories try “Twins” by Katherine Stone…

  20. 20
    jmc says:

    Ugh, Good Twin/Bad Twin.  Like the other twins who’ve posted, I hate this trope.

    And frankly, anytime there’s a “hero” who has had sex with both twins, I’m totally squicked.  Doesn’t matter if the sex happened way in the past or if it is on the page as proof of the Bad Twin’s skankitude.  The idea of sharing a sex partner, even one from long ago in either of our pasts, is just about the skeeviest thing I can imagine.  I love my brother-in-law…but not that way.

  21. 21
    ibm says:

    @jmc I hear you on the ick factor of sharing twin’s lover. I like my BIL a whole hell of a lot, but not that much and I am certain she feels the same way about my husband! I once dallied with her ex boyfriend however. Beer goggles. Urgh.

  22. 22
    aion kinah says:

    Amazing accomplishment! The one thing I can share is something I believe in so strongly, I trademarked it.

  23. 23
    lclair says:

    Anyway after the birth of the kid, when his ministrations cause her to leak milk in his face. He says something masculine like, “Oops, better save that for someone else” and proceeds to another part of her body that hopefully won’t blind him (although breastmilk is excellent for eye infections, but I digress).

    Now THAT might be a totally different plot device…(but I digress :)

  24. 24
    canadacole says:

    The Lindsey was the one I was thinking of.  That was one crazy book.  Sounds like the one you’re looking for might be even crazier.  I wouldn’t have thought it possible…

  25. 25
    Anony Miss says:

    lclair, that was… special.

    I will be open minded, I WILL be open minded, I WILL be…

    Nope, sorry, not my cup of tea, or, er, milk.

  26. 26
    lclair says:

    lclair, that was… special.

    I will be open minded, I WILL be open minded, I WILL be…

    Nope, sorry, not my cup of tea, or, er, milk.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  The Basement cat made me do it.

  27. 27
    Anony Miss says:

    So no one remembers reading a Zebra in the 90’s with a lactating heroine? Gosh, who knows, maybe I’m wrong about the twins, faulty memory, but I KNOW I’m not making up the spurting milk part – that was NOT something I knew about as a teenager!

  28. 28
    marley says:

    i hid mine under the matress and the dresser. that’s one of the reasons i’ve never liked romance covers: instincts from when reading romance was my secret forbidden vice

    spamword:thats68, if so then what about 69

  29. 29
    Kimmy says:

    This really sounds like a Johanna Lindsay’s “A Man To Call My Own”…right down to the roll in the hay, and then the Hero’s confusion over which twin he actually ‘boinked’.

    However, I can’t remember if he impregnated her, or not, as it’s been a while since I read it.

  30. 30
    Mrsa says:

    you know eye Infections are eye ailments that are caused by bacterial, viral, or other microbiological agents. There are many different types of eye infections with different causes and treatments. Some eye infections are common while others are rare.

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