Releasing Sept 28th, 2015
Mass Market Paperback
The dead of winter.
An isolated island off the coast of Maine.
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.
Annie didn’t usually talk to her suitcase, but she wasn’t exactly herself these days. The high beams of her headlights could barely penetrate the dark, swirling chaos of the winter blizzard, and the windshield wipers on her ancient Kia were no match for the wrath of the storm that had hit the island. “It’s only a little snow,” she told the oversize red suitcase wedged into the passenger seat. “Just because it feels like the end of the world doesn’t mean it is.”
You know I hate the cold, her suitcase replied, in the annoying whine of a child who preferred making a point by stamping her foot. How could you bring me to this awful place?
Because Annie had run out of options.
An icy blast rocked the car, and the branches of the old fir trees hovering over the unpaved road whipped like witches’ hair. Annie decided that anybody who believed in hell as a fiery furnace had it all wrong. Hell was this bleak, hostile winter island.
You’ve never heard of Miami Beach? Crumpet, the spoiled princess in the suitcase retorted. Instead you had to haul us off to a deserted island in the middle of the North Atlantic where we’ll probably get eaten by polar bears!
The gears ground as the Kia struggled up the narrow, slippery island road. Annie’s head ached, her ribs hurt from coughing, and the simple act of craning her neck to peer through a clear spot on the windshield made her dizzy. She was alone in the world with only the imaginary voices of her ventriloquist dummies anchoring her to reality. As sick as she was, she didn’t miss the irony.
She conjured up the more calming voice of Crumpet’s counterpart, the practical Dilly, who was tucked away in the matching red suitcase in the backseat. We’re not the middle of the Atlantic, sensible Dilly said. We’re on an island ten miles off the New England coast, and the last I heard, Maine doesn’t have polar bears. Besides, Peregrine Island isn’t deserted.
It might as well be. If Crumpet had been on Annie’s arm, she would have shot her small nose up in the air. People barely survive here in the middle of the summer let alone winter. I bet they eat their dead for food.
The car fishtailed ever so slightly. Annie corrected the skid, gripping the wheel more tightly through her gloves. The heater barely worked, but she’d begun to perspire under her jacket.
You mustn’t keep complaining, Crumpet, Dilly admonished her peevish counterpart. Peregrine Island is a popular summer resort.
It’s not summer! Crumpet countered. It’s the first week of February, we just drove off a car ferry that made me seasick, and there can’t be more than fifty people left here. Fifty stupid people!
You know Annie had no choice but to come here, Dilly said.
Because she’s a big failure, an unpleasant male voice sneered.
Leo had a bad habit of uttering Annie’s deepest fears, and it was inevitable that he’d intrude into her thoughts. He was her least favorite puppet, but every story needed a villain.
Very unkind, Leo, Dilly said. Even if it is true.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/07/heroes-are-my-weakness-by-susan.html
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I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, through Tasty Book Tours, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.
This is my first book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but I don’t think it will be my last.
“Annie didn’t usually talk to her suitcase, but she wasn’t herself these days.” And most people’s suitcases, don’t exactly talk back, especially with such a menagerie of voices and characters. But Annie is a woman who has just about hit rock bottom. Dead mother, dead in the water career, in debt up to her eyeballs, and coming off pneumonia, she’s got only one refuge left, and it is the last place she’d ever want to go. But she’s get a hell of a twisted sense of humor that keeps it all from being too grim for the reader. And really, she’s a little demented and possibly psychotic.
Theo Harp was the bane and near fatal attraction of Annie’s teen years, while he was briefly her step brother. As an adult he is enigmatic and more than a little sinister. Amoral doesn’t even begin to cover it. In fact he’s positively menacing. So, yes, it is safe to say I’ll likely be reading more of Ms. Phillips’s work, if she can redeem a hero like this, it will be fascinating to see what she can pull out of her hat with other character types.
There’s a couple of mysteries interspersed in the plot. A missing legacy, Theo’s motivations and true character, who is out to get Annie, and little Livia’s selective mutism. They were all sort of woven together into a lovely story about personal growth mixed in with the mysteries, or maybe with the mysteries as the impetus. I enjoyed it very much. Annie’s inner voices and expression through her ventriloquism was something I felt was very clever and worked for her as a character, it was quite endearing.
So, that is the sweet. Now onto some sour, the first quarter to third of the book dragged quite a bit. I can’t put my finger on just what it was, but after the initial puppet scenes and the disastrous first meeting, I wasn’t sure I was going to have much good to say. Fortunately, it did eventually get going again. And, there was an aargh moment with a failure to properly birth control, but Phillips pulled it out with some frank discussion on the topic which I appreciated.
But after that the story really picked up. Witty, snarky banter between the two protagonists, funny paired with tragic mixed with sizzle, reveal after reveal like peeling the layers off an onion – many of which were completely shocking to me but in retrospective were perfectly set up, character growth not just for the main characters but for several of the ancillary characters as well, and then a delightful and very believable happily ever with a nice ooey gooey epilogue to see just how everyone settled out.
I really enjoyed it, and will be looking up Phillips’ backlist.
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.