Heroes Are My Weakness
By: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Published date: August 26, 2014
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Cheeseball rating: 1 out of 5.
How hot is it: There was sexual tension, but everything was pretty closed door.
Hero: Theo Harp, horror novelist.
Heroine: Annie Hewitt, actress and puppet master.
Well, what can I say, Susan Elizabeth Phillips just gets me. I’ve never read another romance author who captures so much so freaking well. Heroes are My Weakness is another wonderful read in a collection of pitch perfect works. This book is certainly a departure of sorts from most of her recent ones; it’s set in winter, it’s done in gothic style (think Rebecca), and there were sassy puppets!
The plot is full of twists and turns, but the basic story is that Annie is a failed actress forced to live in her deceased mother’s cottage on an island off the coast of Maine for two months or the cottage will return to her mother’s ex-husband. She’s also searching the cottage for a supposed legacy to solve her money woes. It isn’t Annie’s first time on Peregrine Island; she spent a summer there when she was fifteen when her then step-brother, Theo, tried to kill her! Talk about a sibling squabble, right?
I was drawn into this book from the very first page; the stark descriptions of the snowy deserted island, the eerie, almost menacing house on the hill, and just the general desperation that comes with being so bitterly cold was a feeling I recognized on a bone deep level. Phillips’ heroines aren’t exactly disparate, but it doesn’t make them any less interesting or honest, and Annie fits the bill of a girl who is trying to get her life together despite the obstacles, and simply refusing to give up. Theo is definitely mysterious and gruff at first, and while we knew it wouldn’t last it was entertaining while it did. A guy who eats Wheaties can’t remain an enigma forever, after all. A man who lost his twin sister and wife to suicide, he has deep scars, and I found it cathartic to watch him forgive himself.
All the characters were almost egregiously flawed, but I enjoyed every single one of them. And that’s so hard to do, and really what I think Phillips does best. Some of her characters do awful things, but we still like them because she knows how to create characters whose motivations and emotions are sincere and transparent to us. I mean, honestly, in This Heart of Mine, Molly pretty much rapes Kevin and I, like, didn’t even blink an eye. That’s some impressive character drawing! 🙂 She probably actually wrote for The Sopranos, because by all rights Tony Soprano was one of the most despicable humans in the history of television, but somehow also one of the most loved. Theo was no Tony Soprano, but for most of the novel we do think that he actually tried to kill Annie. He was sixteen at the time, too, so there’s really no excuse. I was a jerk when I was sixteen, but I sure wasn’t out trying to murder people and the like.
I was disappointed when reading some of the unfavorable reviews on Amazon because I thought it was a great book. Despite the cold weather, the story felt warm and inviting while still engaging the reader in a rather sinister game of whodunit. I can see why this might not be a favorite of Phillips’ fans because it isn’t like her contemporary romances, but it isn’t exactly a total gothic novel either. But to those people, I say, pshaw! I think she did a superb job of blending, introducing darkness and suspense without sacrificing her signature breezy style and spot-on humor. Moreover, she crafted a riveting story hinged on the development and redemption of her characters, and did it with a joie de vivre that it so ephemeral in the romance genre that I sometimes forget it’s possible.
I had the chance to meet and see her read last week, and so I’ve included the pic of us just to be that person who does things like that. She was so nice, and didn’t blink when I asked her to sign “To T-Sizzles” so it was a pretty amazing experience! 🙂 Please excuse my face, it’s ridiculous, I can’t do pictures seriously, they’re too weird. Here’s to her next book, I’ll be waiting, mostly impatiently!