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'Heroes Are My Weakness' by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Marvelously mysterious

Susan Elizabeth Phillips at her best!
courtesy of William Morrow

Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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Susan Elizabeth Phillips never fails to deliver, and "Heroes Are My Weakness" is no different from her other wonderfully written romances. But with this latest book, Phillips twists her usual story into something just a bit different.

"Heroes" is set on an island in New England in the winter. It's very cold and very remote. And Annie Hewitt has nowhere else to go. Her mother died and Annie went into debt to support her at the end. All she has left is the cottage on Peregrine Island, and the stipulation that to keep the cottage she must inhabit it for sixty consecutive days each year -- with no breaks over overnight trips. If Annie leaves the island before the sixty days are up -- it reverts to the Harp family.

And the Harp family is very connected to Annie's life. Her mother married Elliot Harp, but the marriage didn't last. Annie's attachment to the Harp son, Theo, did, in spite of his mercurial personality. When he tried to kill her at the end of the summer, that ended her hopes for any long-lasting relationship with Theo. (To say the least!)

But being back on the island with Theo brings back all the uncertainties and the attraction that she felt all those years ago. He's now a best-selling author with a horror book out. And there is something horrible about remembering what happened all those years ago.

But Theo seems different, and soon -- in spite of herself and her fears -- she can't resist him.

There are mysteries aplenty on the island apart from the mysterious Theo Harp. Theo's housekeeper is Jaycie, who saved Annie's life all those years ago. Her four-year-old daughter won't talk. And Jaycie is on crutches and needs Annie's help to keep her job. There is also the mysterious "legacy" hidden somewhere in the cottage her mother mentioned at the end of her life.

Who is trying to drive Annie off the island? The messages are clear. Annie has several suspects but readers will be hard-pressed to guess the real culprit.

The writing is pure Phillips -- filled with emotion, tension (sexual and otherwise), and mystery. The characters include a cast of puppets -- and to be honest they seem a bit creepy at first. But soon they become extensions of Annie and even others in the story. The hero? Extraordinarily handsome and brooding. He rides a large black horse and lives in the turret of the old family home -- definitely in the style of Gothic romances. And Annie is quirky enough and clever enough to make any reader sit up and take notice -- she's a delightful heroine.

It's the kind of story that will have readers thinking about the plot and the characters long after the last page is turned. Phillips turns the typical romance upside down -- it's the heroine who rescues the hero in this story. It's a book that is even worth a second read -- in the future.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, William Morrow, for review purposes.

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