Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Title: Heroes Are My Weakness

Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Rating: 3 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.
More often than not, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is an author I turn to in desperate need of a pick-me-up. Not only do her characters draw me in, but her romances manage to contain depth while remaining light reads I can breeze through and simply enjoy. Heroes Are My  Weakness, however, proved a bit too odd for my liking. It isn't a bad novel, not in the least, but being a blend of many genres and time periods forces its narrative to stutter and though I became engrossed in the love story by the last third of this novel, it wasn't enough to redeem the entirety of the story in my eyes.

From the beginning of the novel itself, I struggled--stylistically--with Heroes Are My Weakness. Anne, our protagonist, is a ventriloquist and the presence of her puppets are integral to the storyline and, moreover, to her psyche. Thus, the fact that I wasn't a fan of their dialogue alongside Anne's thoughts made it difficult for me to immerse myself into this story. When the novel opens Anne is returning to the cottage owned by her mother on an isolated island off the coast of Maine. To her surprise, she bumps into Theo--the boy she loved as a teenager and grew to fear as their teenage romance took a dark turn. Now, Theo is an author with a wife who killed herself not too long ago and Anne is, still, both attracted and terrified of him.

It takes awhile for the entirety of Theo and Anne's past to come to light but the few glimpses we're given in the beginning all relate to Anne's fear of Theo. As kids, Theo often tormented Anne and now, looking back, she can't believe he once had such a sweet twin sister while he himself remains cold and aloof. Anne's descriptions of Theo travel back in time to draw parallels with Gothic romances. Everything from his old-era clothing to his impeccable manners and even to his Heathcliffe-like brooding. It's an odd juxtaposition of the old and the new and it didn't work for me for a very long time. Even more disturbing, though, Anne and Theo's romance is one I felt disconnected with from the start. After all, Anne doesn't like him. Theo made her childhood a misery, playing pranks on her and even putting her life in danger at times, so the weird fascination she has for him and her attraction to him read rather creepy.

Phillips does, eventually, manage to answer all unanswered questions and the story steers back to familiar romantic territory, full of classic mishaps and steamy scenes. Yet, Heroes Are My Weakness fails to stand out as a Susan Elizabeth Phillips romance. It lacks the humor I often associate with her novels and though the secondary characters are vividly cast, they remain forgettable. Ultimately, Theo and Anne don't have the type of spark--chemistry, if you will--that I've come to expect from SEP's leads. Looks like it's back to the Chicago Stars for me!


  1. I've read quite a few of her books, and have adored them in their own ways. This one, however, might take a bit of getting used to. Lovely review, dear. :)

  2. Sorry this was such a struggle for you. :(

  3. Oh, the humor is lacking you say? Sad

  4. I have heard a lot about this author (mostly from you though) so it's really disappointing for me that there is no sparks here as it's technically a romance novel. So it really doesn't work that way for me. Sorry it wasn't as good as you hoped and I hope that your next read is much better. Great review, Keertana :)

  5. Aw, sadness! It bites when a go-to author doesn't live up to expectations, especially when it's missing the key elements like humor (I've gotta have my humor, if I'm expecting it!).

  6. I think I tried a book from her but not this one. I need to read more.

  7. Hm... doesn't sound like it would be for me. I have to say what puts me off is the puppets. I know know why, but that is so creepy to me. LOL

  8. For some reason I thought this was a lighthearted romance like a Jill Shalvis novel, but this does sound darker. Puppets give me the creeps like you can't even imagine so the fact that Anne's a ventriloquist and there's actual dialogue from the puppets is a big negative! I'd have nightmares for sure! In spite of that I am curious about Theo and Anne's history. Wonderful review, Keertana! :)

  9. It's always a shame when you know an author is capable of writing a fantastic story, yet one of her books doesn't live up to her potential. The romance at the very least sounds fantastic though! :D I think I'll make a compromise and skip this one, but read another one of her books instead because that sounds like it might be better.

    Thanks for sharing Keertana and, as always, FABULOUS review! <3

  10. ack yup i think we all hit these kind of books once in a while ;/ even if we love the author, there is always an odd duck that makes you scratch your head

  11. Aw, that's too bad--it's always disappointing when a favorite author doesn't quite live up to your expectations. I've never read this author, although I keep meaning to--maybe I'll give her other books a try.

    I'm in the middle of my first Jill Shalvis book, though, and I know you like her! I also loooove Kristan Higgins, I should have listened to you about that sooner.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


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