Heroes Are My Weakness
Written by: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Narrated by: Erin Bennett
Genre: Contemporary Romance (with Gothic tone)
My Rating: 4.0 of 5.0
An isolated island off the coast of Maine.
Puppets. (Yes, puppets…)
A mysterious house looming over the sea…
He's a reclusive writer whose 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 his characters with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill an audience with laughs. But she's not laughing now.
Annie Hewitt has arrived on Peregrine Island in the middle of a snowstorm and at the end of her resources. She's broke, dispirited, but not quite ready to give up. Her red suitcases hold the puppets she uses to make her living: sensible Dilly, spunky Scamp, and Leo, the baddest of bad guys. Her puppets, the romantic novels she loves, and a little bit of courage are all she has left.
Annie couldn't be more ill prepared for what she finds when she reaches Moonraker Cottage or for the man who dwells in Harp House, the mysterious mansion that hovers above the cottage from a windblown cliff. When she was a teenager, he betrayed her in a way she can never forget or forgive. Now they're trapped together on a frozen island along with a lonely widow, a mute little girl, and townspeople who don't know how to mind their own business.
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.
©2014 Susan Elizabeth Phillips (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers
Annie is greatly discouraged. She has lost her flighty and critical mother whom she cared for during her last year of illness. All her mother left was a pile of debt and a deathbed whisper that Annie will find her legacy at the cottage on Peregrine Island. Annie has also suffered rejection from a broken engagement. She has retreated to the Island with only her beloved puppets to give her support while she rests and regains her footing.
Arriving in a storm Annie is startled by a man on a dark horse racing through the snow. She soon learns the man is none other than her childhood crush, the handsome but brooding Theo. Not only did Theo break Annie’s young heart when he spurned her after they became close friends one summer but he tormented her and almost got her killed. Theo has suffered his own heartaches. He and his twin sister were abandoned by their mother. The twins were inseparable until strange problems developed in their teen years, ultimately resulted in his sister’s death. Now he broods in his dark lonely, Gothic house, and writes horror thrillers with a particularly dark villain.
Annie discovers another childhood friend who has her own crush on Theo. Jaci is working as Theo’s housekeeper at Harp House. She is finding the job difficult with a mute child and a broken leg. Someone is harassing Annie and trying to drive her off the Island, adding the Gothic type mystery. She gets some rather questionable help from her mixed group of puppet alter egos and, of course Theo steps up to try to protect her.
I usually enjoy SEP’s distinct characters and the conflicts and obstacles they overcome on the journey to their HEA. These characters were a little difficult to enjoy for a good part of the book. If the reader perseveres the story finally gets to a place where Annie begins to appreciate her own strengths and to recognize the truths about Theo. Even so, it takes patience to put up with Annie’s strange multi-character and a true romantic to see behind the dark, moody character that Theo initially presents.
SEP romances are often fun and delightful, even with down on their luck heroines and cocky, handsome heroes. This one is not light but goes through a lot of despondency and darkness before Annie determines she can make it on her own and Theo gets to be a hero. I did like the ending but it was not a delight getting there. Readers might note that ratings run from 1 star to 5 so it may depend on the reader’s mood and expectations. Do not pick this up expecting the usual SEP light fun. On the other hand, SEP does deliver distinct characters and an engaging, if darker, gothic-type story. I didn’t love it but I came to appreciate it.
Audio Notes: Fortunately, this story has a different tone so I think it was easier to get used to the voices of Erin Bennett. Erin does a good job distinguishing the characters, even the several puppet voices. Erin’s presentation conveyed the tones of the characters and enhanced my enjoyment of the story.
I picked this one from my Audible Library (2014) to listen to for Audio Challenge, Mount TBR and "H" in Alphabet Challenge.