New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips is back with a delightful novel filled with her sassy wit and dazzling charm
An isolated island off the coast of Maine.
A man. A woman.
Puppets. (Yes, puppets . . .)
And . . .
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. 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.
When 33-year-old ventriloquist Annie Hewitt returns to a Maine island and the isolated cottage where she spent her teenage years, she only expects to recover her health and search for a legacy left by her mother. She doesn't expect to find widower Theo Harp in the manor house on the hill, or Jaycie Mills, the quiet woman who once saved her life, working as his housekeeper and raising a mute four-year-old daughter. Phillips (What I Did For Love) uses hints and references to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca to create a sometimes tense atmosphere, using the structure of the older book to both fulfill and subvert the reader's expectations. Theo fulfills his role as the stereotypical brooding hero, and Annie is much more independent than her counterpart as she learns about her past, helps Jaycie's daughter overcome trauma, and investigates the mysterious occurrences that are trying to drive her off the island. Details of smalltown New England life round out this powerfully successful homage.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Not her best work
First off, I've read just about every book, she's written, and I finished this book in 3 nights, usually I try to read her books all in one day or two days... So obviously it wasn't bad. It just wasn't anything like what I was expecting. If you think ventriloquist dolls are sexy... Then this is the book for you. If they creep you out...prepare to be creeped out. She talks to the love interest in her various voices... He's totally cool with it. I was not cool with it, and had to put the book down and take a break. I think the story would have been SO much better with out the dolls and weird voices.
Forgive is devine
Annie Hewitt and Theo Harp go way back. They have a very painful and yet sexy past. He was all she wanted back then. He also barely gave her the time of day. Until the day he almost caused her demise.
Now back on the same island in winter, they are both back at the same time. She is still scared of him, in fear of what he may yet still to do her. He is intimidating and yet, kind. How can that be?
Theo has had bad experiences with relationships and seeing Annie again is changing his look on what could have been. Regrets steal moments instead of make memories. He is attracted to her, can he act on it without her doing him in?
Annie is starting to see the man beneath the villain she has made him out to be. She cannot help but be attracted to him physically, his charm, his humor. Can you forgive someone who hurt you? Can you fall for them more than once? Annie and Theo are finding that sometimes life and love are not so simple.
Many tragedies are happening to Annie and it cannot be a coincidence. Theo wants only to protect, but Annie is afraid to trust. This book is heartwarming, fun and makes me laugh out loud! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this story.
***This ARC copy was given for review purposes only.
Good but not great (B)
While I would rank SEP as one of the most consistent romance writers, I didn't think this was her best effort. The puppet dialog was distracting and off-putting. Frankly, had it not been SEP with her incredible track record, I would have abandoned this book after the first few pages. I'm glad I stuck with it, as I did enjoy the quirky heroine and her snappy dialog with the hero. Puppets had a place in the story. I just didn't like the constant dialog in the heroine's head (and even the hero had the puppet sickness by the end of the book!)