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.
My rating: 4 of 5 starsAn interestingly sweet and touching story about, forgiveness, finding one self and love and very glad I didn’t give up on because truly Heroes ARE my Weakness.
The last place Annie Hewitt wants to go is back to the island where as a teenager the boy she crushed on bullied her to the point of fear. But as a struggling actress-puppeteer, she has nowhere else to go. In the hopes of finding the legacy her dying mother promised her, she’s putting on a brave face and using her charm to put the pieces of her life back together and start fresh. But there’s someone set on making her leave. Will she trust the sexy recluse sadist who long ago terrorized her to help out now?
Horror novelist Theo Harp likes to hide away and keep to himself in his family’s island house while he writes even though the place only brings him bad memories. With Annie back on the island and in his life those memories are sharper and as painful as ever. Can Annie’s quirky appeal tear down his walls and bring happiness into his otherwise self-flagellating life?
I’ll be completely honest. This story started out with a strange setting. A grown woman who’s inner voices included that of several puppets? A man dressed in period clothing riding a horse in the middle of a snow storm in the dead of night? It just didn’t seem like a romance novel and it progressed painfully slow to boot. But around a third of the way in, the weirdness transformed into an interesting plot with incredible well developed characters, some unforeseeable twists and a beautiful ending.
“He kissed her lips as if his life depended on it. Kissed their future into her. All they could have and all they could be.”
It was hard to imagine at first that I would like, much less love Theo as the hero in this novel. He came off as a menacing adult with dry humor and as we learned about his teenage bullying I was no closer liking him. I did like however, how he viewed Annie and how she managed and stood up to him. As the story unfolds we do learn about his soul-crushing secrets, misplaced guilt and what compelled him to act the way he did while slowly discovering his inner softness and kind soul.
“You talked about being a romantic. Romance is nothing! It’s a tiny word that doesn’t come close to what I feel for you.”
I felt so sad about all the tragedy and despair Theo had endured during his life. But so happy that Annie brought so much light to him. I liked her sharp tongue, her vivid imagination and her heart of gold. Yes it did seem weird at first when she talked to her puppets, but they did play a key role in helping a traumatized little girl as well as help Annie find a purpose.
The story didn’t just revolve around Annie and Theo’s budding relationship, which most of the time had an antagonist vibe to their push-pull.
“What were you doing in my bedroom?”
“Searching it. More successfully than when I tried to get into your computer… I’ll have to keep prying until you level with me… by the way, you need some new panties.”
There were a lot of questions I wanted the answers to. Like the unidentified person who is bullying Annie into leaving, Theo’s dark secrets and Annie’s mystery inheritance.
This is my first Susan E. Phillips book, so I can’t say if this unhurried start and fade to black sexiness is her usual style. I was eventually more than hooked with a wonderful writing and interesting story, which has made me look up more of her books and will search for future publications.
* I was given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author via Tasty Book Tours. The excerpts are from that copy. *
Elizabeth Phillips soars onto the New York Times bestseller list with every new
publication. She’s the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of
America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award. Susan delights fans by
touching hearts as well as funny bones with her wonderfully whimsical and
modern fairy tales. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is also a wife, and
mother of two grown sons.