Phillips is my favorite contemporary romance writer and I always look forward to her books. That said, if this was written by any other writer I probably would have put it down 10 pages in. The main character is Annie, a ventriliquist, and the book opens with Annie conversing with her puppets. Not my thing but since it was Phillips, I kept going and I’m very glad I did.
This book is a bit of a departure for Phillips. Our hero is Theo Harp, a young widower returned to hide away in his childhood home, a spooky mansion on an isolated island off the coast of Maine.
Annie’s childhood friend Jayce is keeping house for Theo. Jayce is a single mom with a mute 4 year old daughter and Annie tries to rekindle their friendship.
Annie has recently lost her mother, who had a vacation home down the hill from the manse that she inherited along with an unusual deed restriction. Annie must stay on the island for the requisite number of days, or the property reverts back to the original owner, Harp’s family. Annie has returned to the island, a failed actress, destitute, and recovering from an illness that has left her having trouble breathing.
Annie and Theo grew up together, but had a major falling out as teens. Theo appeared to turn violent and frightened Annie badly. She’s still somewhat frightened of him, but also strangely attracted to him. Then sinister things start happening. Her cottage is trashed, a threatening warning is written on her bathroom mirror, and a gunshot narrowly misses her.
Eventually the romance kicks in but the gothic atmosphere is pervasive throughout, an obvious nod to one of the original Gothic romances, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The requisite happy ending had even the puppets finding a higher purpose. Bottom line? Phillips is a great storyteller and has penned another winner.
8/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. William Morrow (August 26, 2014). ISBN 978-0062351128. 384p.