The Courtship

The Deception

The Edge

Hemlock Bay


The Penwyth Curse


The Scottish Bride

The Target

The Sherbrooke Twins
by Catherine Coulter
(Jove, $7.99, R) ISBN 0-515-13654-9
Ah, the Sherbrookes Ė fans of Coulter will remember most of their books with fondness. This is the story of the original charactersí children. Alexandra and Douglas (The Sherbrooke Bride) have had twin sons and they are now 25. James is first born, and the heir; Jason is the second son, interested in horses. This is a convoluted story that includes romances for both along with a plot to kill Douglas which is connected to the previous stories. While somewhat engaging, it also leaves one feeling a bit battered.

James and Jason are beautiful, taking after their Aunt Melissande, who is breathtakingly beautiful (this too is a reference to the earlier story). Many cannot tell them apart, but like all twins, they want the love of their life to know who they are. They are much sought after by the beauties of the ton.

Corrie Tybourne-Barrett is a neighbor of the boys, several years younger than they. She grew up a tomboy who chased after them and always adored James over Jason. Now eighteen, Corrie is ready to make her debut. She lives with her aunt and uncle, who have allowed her to run rampant. Now, she must act the lady. The first time James sees her in a dress with her bosom hanging out, he tells her to cover herself and their adventure into lust/love commences. Sadly, it is a rather tame adventure. They are old friends and act like squabbling siblings. Then the reader is asked to believe that they really do lust and what they really have been feeling is love. Once the reader can accept this premise, their love story is relatively enjoyable.

One part of their adventure revolves around a kidnap attempt. James is kidnapped from a ball and Corrie is the only witness. She takes off and rescues him, resulting in James getting pneumonia and of course, causing a scandal. The actual adventure is rather fun, with Corrie being young, but not lacking courage and definitely not a simpering miss. She is a fun character with lots of personality and often the best thing in the story.

Meanwhile, the story shifts to who is trying to kill Douglas. Some man from his past, who was his enemy turned friend, has children who are out for revenge. Other than the attempts on his life and the kidnapping attempt, they have no clues and cannot find the man. If there was a simple way to explain this plotline, I would, but it is convoluted. It is also less than satisfying, taking up a good portion of the story, while James and Corrie come to grips with their romance.

Jason too, finds romance. He is intrigued for the first time in his life. Since his romance plays into the whole plotline of the threat, it is best left for readers who want to discover this for themselves. Again, it is less than satisfying. Needless to say, since this is basically Jamesí story, Jasonís story is yet to come.

Coulter used to be a must-read for me. I see much of her snappy dialogue in this story, similar to the previous Sherbrooke stories. But there is also a zaniness that seems to have been added, and at times there is just too much give and take dialogue. In some scenes I feel like I am watching a tennis match. In others, I am reminded of the quick and witty banter of something like a West Wing episode. This made for a very uneven read.

James as a hero is only good when interacting with Corrie. The two together make a good couple, but James alone leaves me a bit wanting. Jason seems like a fun-loving rake, but only his story will tell. It is fun to see Douglas and Alex after all these years, but there are often references to their story that left me feeling adrift. It has been years since I read The Sherbrooke Bride, and while the references were vaguely familiar, they are not well described for those who donít remember.

Overall, The Sherbrooke Twins is a traditional Catherine Coulter story of recent years: signs of her talent, but not quite delivering the full measure.

--Shirley Lyons

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