Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of my favorite contemporary romance writers, and I thought I had read all of her books. I was wrong, somehow I missed this one.
This is a standalone, set mostly in Tuscany so I was all over that. Isabel Favor is a world famous psychologist with a huge following. She has bestselling books, TV deals, and a perfect life, including her fiancé. Perfect, that is, until he dumps her for another woman and her accountant embezzles all her money and flees the country, leaving her with a whopping multi-million dollar IRS debt, and those boys don’t play. She sells everything she owns to pay her back taxes, and then she flees the country, going to Italy to lick her wounds and reinvent herself.
While in Rome, she is at a cafe and sees a very good looking man who seems to be watching her. He makes his way over to her and she decides to try something she’s never done before; have a one night stand with a stranger. Isabel is more of a fall-in-love-then-have-sex kind of woman, so this is way outside her comfort zone. The sex isn’t great, and in the process, she convinces herself that this man must be a gigolo. She throws some money on the bed and takes off.
Isabel got a two month rental of a Tuscan farm house through a friend, but when she gets there they try and tell her she can’t stay, she needs to move into town. But this is the calming paradise she has been seeking and she refuses to move. She marches herself up to the villa at the top of the hill where the owner resides. Much to her surprise, the owner is a famous actor – and the man she had the one night stand with while he was in disguise.
She stays, he thinks she is a stalker, and something weird is going on with the farm help. Eventually, they form a friendship and then decide to become lovers, but to keep it to a physical relationship only. As any romance reader knows, that idea never works out and they fall in love, but both are too hell bent on keeping it casual that they almost lose each other – almost being the key word here.
This was another wonderful read from Phillips. It’s only $5 if you buy the Kindle version so if you are looking for a sure bet, this one is highly recommended..
9/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
BREATHING ROOM by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Avon; Reprint edition (April 29, 2003). ISBN 978-0061032097. 400p.