A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Monday, July 27, 2015

Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Philips Virtual Book Tour + Giveaway

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Surprise SEP Prize Pack

Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Releasing in Paperback July 28th
Avon Romance

The dead of winter.
An isolated island off the coast of Maine.
A man.
A woman.
A sinister house looming over the sea ...

He's a reclusive writer whose macabre imagination creates chilling horror novels. She's a down-on-her-luck actress reduced to staging kids' puppet shows. He knows a dozen ways to kill with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill with laughs.

But she's not laughing now. When she was a teenager, he terrified her. Now they're trapped together on a snowy island off the coast of Maine. Is he the villain she remembers or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes.

It's going to be a long, hot winter.

Heroes Are My Weakness: A NovelHeroes Are My Weakness: A Novel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heroes are my Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a 2014 William Morrow publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

When I start a book by this author it's a strictly fan girl approach. I don't doubt for a minute the book will be good. When I saw this book had a Gothic tone I was especially exited.

Annie Hewitt arrives at the cottage on a small secluded island in Maine that she inherited from her mother, who recently passed away. Annie spent summers here once upon a time, but the memories are not pleasant. When she sees there is no running water or heat, she is forced make it over to Harp house in order to make arrangements to get the cottage in liveable condition.

“Everything was sharp angles: the peaked roofs, shadowed eaves, and foreboding gables. How she loved this Gothic gloom when she'd come to live here the summer her mother had married Elliot Harp. She'd imagined herself clad in a mousy gray dress and clutching a portmanteau gently born, but penniless and desperate, forced to take the humble position of governess. Chin up and shoulders back, she'd confront the brutish ( but exceptionally handsome) master of the house with so much courage that he would eventually fall hopelessly in love with her. They'd marry, and then she'd redecorate. It hadn't taken long before romantic dreams of a homely fifteen year-old who read too much and experienced too little had met a harsher reality.”

But, Annie's going through a bad patch, her mother's health issues having drained her bank accounts, her job as a ventriloquist is at a crossroads after she and her partner split. However, the voices of her puppets are an extension of herself, each with their own personality. Coming to the cottage is something she really didn't have much choice about and due to a strange codicil in her mother's divorce years ago, she must live in the cottage for 2 months out the year. But, the last person on earth she expected to encounter on the island was Theo Harp... a man who once tried to kill her.

“He descended slowly. A Gothic hero in a pearl gray waistcoat, snowy white cravat, and dark trousers tucked into calf- hugging black leather boots. Hanging languidly at this side was a steel barreled dueling pistol.

In the dim gray light, his hair was raven black; his eyes a pale, imperial blue; his face chiseled and unsmiling, everything about him the embodiment of nineteenth century haughtiness. She wanted to curtsy. To run. To tell him she didn't really need that governess job after all.”

Annie and Theo had a very complicated past together in their teenage years. Now they are both hiding out on the island for one reason or other. Each holds their cards close to the vest, but for Annie, her secrets could have painted a target on her back. There is a legacy her mother left her, but Annie has yet to figure out what that is. However, someone on the island is just as eager to discover it. With Theo's dark background and their shared past, Annie is immediately wary of Theo.
If this isn't enough drama for you, add a young mother with a small child who refuses to speak, a slew of medical emergencies on the island and the mystery of what took place between Annie and Theo all those years ago.
I think for some who have read SEP in the past, this book might be something of a departure from what you are used to. I happen to love Gothic flavored stories so of course I was all in. The book is modern Gothic, but pays homage to the Jane Eyre style of storytelling. Dark, brooding, misunderstood heroes with an air of danger about them is always interesting because the reader is not quite sure if they trust him or not and neither does the female protagonist. This creates a edge of suspense and mystery, especially when it looks like there is a real threat out there. While Jane Eyre was obviously the inspiration here,  I also thought I picked up a little Northanger Abbey too. I had to laugh on more than one occasion, especially at Theo who was actually pretty cool despite his troubled life and the self inflicted guilt his carried by blaming himself for the actions of others. But, of course Theo is a hero- Annie's hero through and through.
This is a bit of an unconventional romance,but it worked for me. The start up is a little slow and the pace through out is never fast, but I think that is the style the author was going for. Still, there were a few times I did hope things would pick up a little. Some parts of the plot were predictable and I did guess at what was happening on the island and why Annie was a target. But, this is really a small complaint because I was pretty impressed with the author's foray into this genre and found it quite refreshing to read something out of the ordinary for a change. 4 stars

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips soars onto the New York Times bestseller list with every new publication. She’s the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award. Susan delights fans by touching hearts as well as funny bones with her wonderfully whimsical and modern fairy tales. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is also a wife, and mother of two grown sons.

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