Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Review: This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Rating: A
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series or Stand-Alone: Chicago Star Series
Publish Year: 2002
Number of Pages: 320
Sensuality Rating: Warm
Part of a Challenge: 2008 Fall Reading Challenge (#11 Read a Series Book)


Molly Somerville loves her career as the creator of the Daphne the Bunny children’s book series, but the rest of her life could use some improvement. She has a reputation for trouble even before she gave away her fifteen-million dollar inheritance. Then there’s her long-term crush on the quarterback for the Chicago Stars football team her sister owns-that awful, gorgeous Kevin Tucker, a man who can’t even remember Molly’s name.

One night, Kevin barges into Molly’s not-quite so perfect life and turns in upside down. Unfortunately, the Ferrari-driving, poodle hating jock isn’t as shallow as she wishes he were, and she soon finds herself at a place called Wind Lake. Surrounded by paint box cottages and a charming old bed-and-breakfast, Molly and Kevin battle each other as they face one of life’s most important lessons. Sometimes, love hurts, sometimes it makes you mad as hell, and sometimes-if you’re lucky- it can heal in a most unexpected way.


So my foray into contemporary romance started with Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s This Heart of Mine. The synopsis at the back was what intrigued me most. In truth, I tried to stay away from ‘the heroine has a crush on the hero for the longest time’ type of plot. In some of the books I’ve read, the heroine ended up being a push-over where the guy was concern(except for Julia Quinn’s Romancing Bridgerton in which JQ handled Penelope’s crush for Colin very well). Since JQ managed to successfully pull off a wonderful story with this type of plot, I wondered how a contemporary author will handle that kind of situation without making Molly look like head over heels in love with Kevin.

And boy did SEP deliver.

Molly was such a wonderful character. After reading the first line of the novel (The day Kevin Tucker nearly killed her, Molly Somerville swore off unrequited love forever.) I already knew I’m going to fall in love with her. Even though she had a long time crush on Kevin, it’s not something Molly was proud of and she always stood her ground. She’s smart (summa cum laude and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa), strong willed, independent, and caring especially towards her niece and nephews. Even though she has quirks (like her reputation for starting trouble when she was younger), it made Molly a real character to me and it seemed like in one way or another the reader can identify with the kind of person that she is. For me, her insecurities only seemed to liven up her character and I felt sympathy towards her especially when her experiences when she was a child were revealed which exposed how vulnerable Molly could be.

Kevin Tucker, on the other hand, may seem like your usual sexy jock. He has an ego that is the size of the earth, he dates attractive foreign bimbos with a tenuous grasp of the English language, and the worst part of all, he never seems to remember Molly’s name. He’s a happy go lucky guy and self-centered but later on, Molly discovered that there was more to Kevin Tucker than met the eyes.

In the beginning, it may look as if they were the complete opposite but as the plot progressed, they discovered they were more similar than they could hope for. Kevin had proven he was a gentleman (when he didn’t spill the details on what truly happened between him and Molly to Dan and Phoebe) and that he cared for Molly especially when they had that tragedy (giving away more of the plot would really spoil the magic) and he took it upon himself to cheer her up and to ease her pain because of the loss. In their journey together, Molly discovered the issues that Kevin had with his past and she wanted him to face those problems and ease away the burden that Kevin was carrying. And in the process of healing one another, Molly and Kevin discovered how much they valued each other’s presence in their lives. Kevin was even willing sacrifice his place in the Stars Football team if it means he could have Molly. When he did that, I knew how much Kevin wanted Molly in his life not only because they were having great sex or what, but because he loves Molly and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

Aside from the main characters, the humor in this book was simply wonderful. Although you might catch a glimpse of SEP’s familiar plots (sudden pregnancy, secondary couple romance, and football players dating stupid women), she worked her magic and made sure everything old was new again. I also enjoyed Molly’s fictional bunny character Daphne and her nemesis named Benny the badger who was obviously Kevin. The fact that Molly’s Daphne Book Series had received censorship from a group called SKIFSA (Straight Kids for a Straight America) forced her to make a difficult decision which defined her character even more. The return of old characters from previous SEP novels (like Dan and Phoebe with the kids, and Cal and Jane) and the addition of new ones like Lilly and Troy and Amy (who were young newlyweds who had taken on the responsibility of giving Molly and Kevin marital advice) added spice and humor to the story. It was like you’re following not only Kevin and Molly’s story but the others as well and it entertained me throughout the time I was reading it.

At the end of every romance novel I’ve read, I always ask myself, did the hero and the heroine found true love? In the case of Molly and Kevin, I felt that they did. And I knew they were what each other needed.

In my opinion, what makes This Heart of Mine different from all the other romance novels I’ve read is the fact that the novel wasn’t only telling us one story. It’s a culmination of stories not only about finding true love, but also about family, friendship, loss, healing, forgiveness and finding what happiness truly means for someone. This Heart of Mine was truly a wonderful read and I recommend it to fellow romance readers!


Phoebe Jordan said...

Loved this book when I read it for the first and second time.

Grain de Beaute said...

Hello Phoebe!

Same here! ^_^ This Heart of Mine was my first SEP novel and I'm glad I was able to read it. She's a wonderful style when it comes to writing, well-drawn characters and plots, plus the dialogues are witty and snappy. ^_^