Review: Heroes are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Heroes are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

3.5 out of 5 stars

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. (Blurb from Goodreads)

I started my 2017 off with a little bit of an SEP re-read marathon. This one still strikes me as very different from the rest of SEP’s books. The winter in Maine setting and the Gothic inspiration she took seem to be the main reasons for that. It’s a welcome dose of variety in SEP’s collection of mostly Texas or Chicago stories.

The odd thing about SEP is that despite almost all of her books having horrible premises, she still manages to pull off a fun, charming, sexy book. It’s like she has the opposite problem of what most romance writers have. I feel like most romance writers who come up with pretty intriguing premises but then fall back on the same cliches, tired dialogue, and hollow-sounding, emotional descriptions. Compared to them, SEP’s premises sound like they come directly from somebody’s weird dreams after watching too many sitcoms with a fever, but somehow she always makes them work.

The premise in this one is that the heroine Annie, after taking care of her mother as she died of cancer, has to move into a small cottage on an Maine island. Partially so she can keep the cottage as part of her inheritance (it was part of her mother’s divorce settlement that the cottage must be occupied for at least two months of the year), but also she can find the artwork in it that her mother promised would bring her money. The cottage though is on the property of her former step-brother, who was also her teenage crush and oh yeah, also tried to kill her. And this guy, Theo, turns out to be (yup, you guessed it) the romantic interest of the story.

So, yeah, completely ridiculous, complicated, odd premise that gets even weirder really. I don’t even think I explained that at all clearly. But you get it. Yet, somehow I enjoyed the story, the dialogue, and I liked Annie a lot. I thought the secondary plot involving Annie’s old friend/Theo’s current housekeeper Jaycie were a little on the weak side for SEP, but overall, I liked this read enough to go back to it. There’s something about SEP’s dialogue that is just absolutely delightful. And unlike other romance writers, she knows how to use sex in a story to highlight the good and bad aspects of a relationship rather than just having it meaninglessly shoved in.

This book is far from perfect, but like the rest of SEP’s books there’s just something about it.

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