The Peerless Pair
|Title:||The Peerless Pair|
|Date(s):||pre-1985 (circuit); September 1990 (zine)|
|External Links:||online here and here|
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The Peerless Pair is a 147-page Professionals slash novel by HG published in Britain. It is a Regency AU set in the 1800s. The story began as a circuit story and for many years, fans only had chapters 1-3 floating around on the circuit, while waiting very patiently for the conclusion.
It is a story on The 1985 Hatstand Express Top Ten Lists.
The short circuit version began life in the early 1980s as a Barbara Cartland-ish romp. Not surprisingly Doyle didn’t take to the idea of being the tremulous, virginal hero who spoke in ellipses and I quickly became bored and abandoned it.
But the first couple of chapters had made me quite fond of the characters so a few years later I returned to it, did some research - if not as much as I should - and took the story a little more seriously.
Reactions and Reviews
[The story at this point was either unfinished, or the complete circuit version was not available to American fans.]: Regarding "The Peerless Pair, Chapters 1-3", an emotion charged Regency historical, how can this writer be so cruel to write a get 'em of these epic proportions, putting poor innocent Doyle through such hardships, inflicting so many injuries, and then leave the story hanging, with no resolution in sight?? ** Arghh!!** Please, please, finish this story (or, if it is now, please send it over to this side of the pond). 
I'm reluctant to read B&D historicals. If you REALLY want to see Bodie Doyle act unlike Bodie and Doyle, writing a historical is preferable to raping the characters in the CI5 universe. However, too many writers of historicals discard characterization, motivation and plot along with the CI5 universe. The best historicals bring in enough elements of B&D characters to at least make them recognizable. The worst historicals slap the names of Bodie and Doyle on stock bodice ripper characterizations that give no feeling for the originals. Oddly enough my favorite and least favorite historicals were written by the same person -- H.G. I LOVE Discovered in a Graveyard, but was DEEPLY disappointed in Peerless Pair (especially having waited years to read the follow-up to the tantalizing first chapters). In Graveyard, I loved the past and present storylines. Several times I've read each as a continuous story. The confrontation between Cowley and Doyle at the end of the present day storyline is one of my altime favorites. Best of all, the historical characters were still recognizable as Bodie and Doyle. Peerless Pair.... Started much better than it ended. Doyle's characer went from innocent, self-doubting boy to sophisticated man from just one roll in the hay. But the very worst thing was being told that Doyle's father wouldn't be objecting as he'd been having it off with his groom for 30 years. All the cliches, none of the good writing that makes Graveyard such a good read. 
The Peerless Pair tries to imitate Georgette Heyer, but does not quite pull it off. I read it and liked it, but some of the holes show. For Reagency stuff to work I think you need a tongue very firmly in cheek and a carefully controlled tone somewhere between 'realism' and farce. HG does not always have full control here, but she gets quite far with it sometimes. Doyle suffers a lot, and well. If you hate Reagency this will not convert you, but it is a decent page-turner if you understand Reagency conventions. 
Peerless Pair may not be the best H.G. has ever done, but the beginning is excellent and perhaps the long wait for the end had us making up our own endings. Someone reading it all the way through at once might enjoy it even more. H.G. is always a good read. 
Re: HG. My issue with her is not that her writing is less explicit when it comes to the sex scenes. What I have a problem with is when she skips over scenes that are crucial to the overall story arc, scenes that as a reader I'm looking forward to.
For example (and I'll try not to spoil this too much in case you haven't read the story) in The Peerless Pair, B & D have a relationship, something happens that makes Doyle think this is a very bad idea. He leaves without telling Bodie why. It's a complete misunderstanding that separates them *for years*. You're waiting for that reconciliation (or at least I was!), the scene where they understand what went wrong and talk it through. That scene, when it happens, is *greatly* truncated. In fact, it's almost summarized a la: Bodie and Doyle discussed the misunderstanding, both agreed it was silly and that they would never allow anything like that to happen again. The end.
That was really not enough for me. Not after I'd been reading for 20-30 pages waiting for the big reunion. She's done that in some other stories too (I'm talking mostly about her longer zine stories) where I was waiting for a particular climactic moment, only to feel cheated. I wouldn't mind, except I think she's basically a really talented writer! I keep going back to her, so either I'm masochistic *g*, or there are things about her writing I very much enjoy.I promise it's the latter. ;-) 
- the battle took place in June 1815
- Archive of Our Own
- from The Hatstand Express #18 (1988)
- comments at Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (January 19, 1993)
- a comment on Virgule-L by Susan H, quoted with permission (August 9, 1993)
- a comment on Virgule-L by Ruth Kurz, quoted with permission (August 9, 1993)
- Ancasta's Corner, posted April, 2007, accessed September 6, 2014