Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

In my humble opinion, Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP) is one of the best romance writers right now. She creates realistic and interesting characters and puts them in some of the most interesting (and at times amusing) situations. And to top it off she does so with such beautiful and realistic writing that pulls you into the story she’s writing.

One thing I love about her writing is that her stories all occur within the same universe (not sci-fi universe, but fictional universe) so characters will occur in stories (and sometimes in series) that are not their own. And not just in the fact that Phoebe (the protagonist of It Had to be You) appears in This Heart of Mine in which her sister Molly is the protagonist, because clearly these characters are going to reappear. What I love is that the protagonists of the novel Glitter Baby appears in the novel What I Did For Love, though really in only a cameo-type capacity, even though their stories are not really related. So even after their stories are over, you get to find out what is going on with your favorite characters later on.

I would specifically like to talk about two of her novels, one because it’s my favorite, and the other because it has some of the most heartachingly beautiful writing in it. The first is Match Me If You Can. This is probably my favorite book from SEP thus far (though it’s hard to decide). It tells the story of Heath, a business savvy sports agent looking for a wife, though not necessarily for love, and Annabelle, a match maker looking to get her new business off the ground.

Heath and Annabelle have a very interesting dynamic that works so well in the piece that it makes you want to keep reading, just to see what insanity is going to happen next.

The other novel I want to talk about is This Heart of Mine, the story of children’s book writer Molly Somerville and Kevin Tucker, the star quarterback for the Chicago Stars football team. Molly ends up pregnant (I won’t ruin the book by going into the story behind that) and she and Kevin end up married. And on their way home after their civil ceremony wedding Molly miscarries the baby and the scenes that come after that are some of the most beautifully written passages I’ve read. You can really feel the pain that the characters are feeling and the way this horrible event in their lives is affecting them and how it is affecting them each differently.

Another thing that is so wonderful about this book is that from time to time you see Molly writing her books in her head, and you can imagine those characters as vividly as you can imagine Molly and Kevin. There are times that I have the pictures in my head and I’m almost convinced that the version I originally read had illustrations, because they’re so vivid in my mind.

I’ve loved practically everything that I’ve read from SEP and I’m constantly looking for her next one. I find myself thinking about books of hers that I read from the library and I keep telling myself, I need to just buy it myself so I can have it to read any time I want.

And SEP’s novels are romance, but not in the bodice-ripper, The Secret Venetian Royal’s Pregnant Virgin Mistress kind of way (not to knock those, there are lots of writers who write good ones and there are lots of readers who read them – they’re one of the largest categories in publishing). There is sex and language in these novels, but it isn’t ever used just as filler. There is intent and purpose behind everything that is said and done in SEP’s novels and I really appreciate the way she does it.

If you’re looking for a good book (possibly a beach read if it ever gets warm enough to go to the beach this summer – here is SW Michigan it’s been too cold most of the time, unfortunately) check out one of SEP’s many books (and while some of the books are in a series you don’t really have to worry about any sort of order – it’s nice for continuity’s sake, but it’s not really a surprise that the guy gets the girl at the end, so reading Natural Born Charmer before Match me if You Can, or reading It Had to be You after Dream a Little Dream doesn’t really make a huge difference.

Hope you enjoy!

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