A Vote of Confidence: The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs
Twin sisters who didn't grow up together (and as different as night and day) find solace and comfort in each other's company, and are fast making up for lost time in Robin Lee Hatcher’s delightful new novel.
Set in the early 1900s, in Bethlehem Springs, Idaho, mid-20s paternal twins Guinevere and Cleo Arlington are as unalike as two siblings can be. Gwen, who grew up with their mother --- which meant culture, education, training and everything ladylike --- is the antithesis of Cleo, who was reared by their father and admits to being at home in her tomboy persona. As they get reacquainted with one another as adults, the sisters have a truly remarkable kinship that extends beyond mere blood ties.
At the beginning of the book, Gwen finds herself debating whether or not she has what it takes to become mayor of their small town. When the reprehensible current candidate runs over the rose bushes of a boarding house with his Torpedo Runabout, all because he decided to imbibe in the early morning hours, the sisters are mortified. Challenged by Cleo to run for mayor, Gwen gives the notion a second thought, and then a third. When their dad agrees with Cleo, Gwen tosses her hat into the ring and begins planning her campaign strategy. As a writer for the local paper, Gwen already knows how to be persuasive with words, and with a heart of gold she starts formulating all the good things she would accomplish for the townspeople.
Enter handsome bachelor Morgan McKinley, who is busy erecting the New Hope Health Spa, which will cater to the rich and the poor. Morgan himself decides to run for mayor and is shocked to meet his opponent, who is every bit his match. Trying mightily not to mix business with pleasure, Morgan succumbs to Gwen's genuine charms and asks her to begin teaching him to play the piano. In such close proximity, it is no wonder the two start to question each other on more than mere campaign policies.
In the midst of this burgeoning romance, an enemy is sabotaging Morgan's health spa, and an unwelcome suitor is wooing Gwen. Other forces in the town similarly attempt to weasel their way into the political arena through subterfuge and via out-and-out deception. Before the end of the book, both Gwen and Morgan find a path to understanding one another's motives, solidifying their life goals, and learn to trust each other despite having been hurt in the past.
Robin Lee Hatcher possesses a lovely ability to make her characters' emotions and passions for what they most care about come to life. With little pretense, she eases her readers into each fictional soul's heart and mind and gets them to see, hear and feel exactly as her characters do.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on April 14, 2009