Annie has arrived on the tiny island off the coast of Maine to stay at her recently-departed mother’s cottage and search for the legacy her mother swore she left for her. Sick, unemployed, and basically destitute, this is Annie’s last chance to save herself from total ruin. But returning to the island isn’t exactly a happy reunion for her, especially when she realizes that Theo Harp is staying at Harp House just up the hill. He was her first crush but also her tormentor as a teen. Trapped together for the duration of the winter, Annie struggles to reconcile this seemingly changed man from the psychopath she swore he was all those years ago.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips has long established herself as a romance powerhouse author. What’s interesting about this novel is that she chooses to branch out from her well-traveled terrain and try something wholly fresh: a contemporary take on the gothic novel. The result is brilliant, entertaining, and totally steamy.
After a somewhat slow start to the book, Phillips picks up the pace and doesn’t stop until the novel’s excellent end. Filled to the brim with quirky, vivid characters and exciting action, this is a book that’s hard to put down even for the casual romance fan. Her attention to detail with her characters and the idiosyncrasies of small town life in New England help to flesh out this story into something really special.
It also helps that Phillips has an ear for dialogue many other authors would kill for. Annie is a fiesty heroine and Theo is a brooding dude, but they have some of the best banter when they’re together. The witty dialogue and the palpable sexual chemistry between the two makes their scenes together sparkle on the page. It’s just so much fun to watch them bait each other.
Totally fun and totally a standout romance novel of the past year. This should be on shelves basically everywhere. This is a great title to offer fans of romance in general, but I also think it works as a way to attract new fans to the genre as well. Highly recommended.
Heroes are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. HarperCollins: 2014. Library copy.