Sunday, January 16, 2011
Strickly a Book Review
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Pocket Books Romance
4 spangles out of five
Heat: Relatively speaking (romance can get pretty steamy), this would not be classified as a "hot" book. But it's not for kiddies.
Here I thought I'd read all of SEP's books (except the latest expensive ones), and what appears on Walmart's shelves? A reprint of a 1989 novel. (Amazon gives a 2005 print date, but it just showed up at Wally World last week.) It's all the rage to take a blockbuster author and start reprinting her earlier works to cash in on her name, but I've discovered that all too often those early books didn't get great sales when they first appeared for a reason.
This is not the case here. The book is an incredible 497 pages long—oy! And yes, imho it could have been cut and not lost much. But all in all, it's a fairly decent read. Certainly by the second half of the book I was in don't-want-to-put-it-down stage.
But, oh, that first half! We get detailed backstories on our heroine's mother (with a bit about her grandmother) and our heroine herself. The beginning is a flash-forward to a late scene, which in essence gives us a reason to read, because the backstory of our heroine does not portray her as likable at all. But in that flash-forward she recalls a time when she is lying on a deserted Texas road, pregnant and penniless. And THAT is the image that keeps us hoping for more from her.
Speaking of flashbacks, there are quite a few in the book, and at times I didn't know where we were in the timeline. The action also tends to skip years here and there.
But the characters are quite fascinating. There are not one, but THREE perfectly beautiful humans operating within the same milieu, something I'd ordinarily find boring, but these guys have so many flaws to work out that I forgive them. We have a hero (a golfer—yes, this is SEP!) who, despite his extraordinary skills and talent, just can't seem to win a major tournament. Our heroine is a Spoiled Rich Fashionista Beauty who has her expensive rug swept out from under her. Quite a few times. You don't think her state can get any worse until it does.
And then she stands up to the world. She determines that she'll grow a backbone. She works hard to get the life she wants. THAT'S what kept me in the book. Also wondering how she and our hero would get back together.
It's a book of surprises. I thought that our third beauty—actually a secondary character—would turn out to be someone's sister, but I was completely wrong about that. (Though I still waited for the revelation. I wouldn't put that past SEP.) Relatively early in the book our hero announces that he's going to play Pygmalion to our heroine, and in essence shape her into a real human being. I thought cool; and she'll do the same to him, and that's how this book will operate.
But it doesn't. Through our hero's horrible actions, our heroine saves herself. At the very end she does come up with a possible way to help our hero, but it's not very Pygmalion-like.
Despite all the backstories that I don't really think were necessary (though by the end they do add to the enjoyment of the book. The trick is to get through them all.), and the sometimes unclear timeline shifts, this turned out to be a "glad I read it" book. I lost a little sleep because I couldn't put it down one night, and I discovered myself thinking, "what's going to happen next?" as I was getting a cleaning at the dentist. Thus it gets at least 4 stars. If it hadn't been for the sheer length and all those backstories, it would have gotten more. Buy this book.