Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Susan Elizabeth Phillips
William Morrow
August 2014

I had never read anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips so I can't really compare this to any of her other books. However, when I read the blurb I knew I had  to give it a try. I also have a love for all those 1960's gothic romances that I read in my teens, the ones with the cheesy covers! The setting on an isolated island off the coast of Maine made it a must read for me. Having spent many summer vacation weeks on just such an island, I wanted to see how she would present that little microcosm of the world.

When we first meet Annie she is a total wreck. Recovering from pneumonia, broke, and reeling from the death of her mother Annie has no place to go other than her mother's cottage on the island. Her mother had possession of the cottage in her divorce settlement from the owner of Harp House, the "big house" on the island. She has nothing but bad memories of the island, especially of the son of the house, Theo, who seemingly tried to kill her when they were both teenagers. It is the dead of winter and she fully expects to find Harp House unoccupied. Annie has to remain in the cottage for 60 days each year, never leaving the island in order to retain ownership. She has been eking out an existence as a failed actress, waitress and middling successful puppeteer. The cottage seems an ideal place to fulfill her commitment, lick her wounds and look for a legacy hidden in the cottage alluded to by her dying mother. Annie and her puppets head off to Maine. Imagine her horror to find Theo occupying Harp House. In the tradition of gothic romances, there are spooky doings at Harp House, someone is determined to run Annie off, Theo is surly but undeniably attractive despite their history. The legacy proves elusive as well. Also in the tradition of gothic romances everything comes full circle in the end.

Since I find puppets very creepy and off-putting I was taken aback by their prominence in Annie's life. They prove to be an important part of the story and I was able to put that aside pretty quickly. I also thought the book dragged in the middle somewhat. Annie and Theo are both remarkably stubborn people who seem determined to sabotage their own happiness. The most important attraction to me was the island setting. Susan Phillips has that spot-on, at least to my mind. The issues facing Maine islands are well told; the declining populations, the people who hang on there and the general difficulties of life. I just wonder which Maine island the novel is based upon.

Heroes are my Weakness is an enjoyable read, one that kept me guessing and turned my assumptions of the evildoer upside down on multiple fronts.

RATING- 3.5 Stars

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