Tag Archives: Susan Elizabeth Phillips

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Heroes and Heroines

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

Inspired by a commenter’s request, these are my favourite romance novel heroes and heroines, and I have a separate post for my couples. Ranking them would take too long, so I haven’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Favourite Heroes

Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron  – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie
Balogh, Mary Only Enchanting
Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year M/M clarification: Graham
Callihan, Kristen The Game Plan
Dare, Tessa Three Nights with a Scoundrel
Dare, Tessa A Week to Be Wicked
Enoch, Suzanne The Rake
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Temptation
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Kelly, Carla Libby’s London Merchant
Kelly, Carla The Surgeon’s Lady
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Lady Sophia’s Lover
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night – Top 5 Hero
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Tempt Me at Twilight  TWO REVIEWS
Kleypas, Lisa Smooth Talking Stranger
Lauren, Christina Wicked Sexy Liar
Linden, Caroline Blame It on Bath
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Milan, Courtney Unveiled – I’d marry him.
Milan, Courtney Unraveled FAVE
Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter  CLASSIC
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Zapata, Mariana Kulti 

My Favourite Heroines

Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrels  CLASSIC
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Heyer, Georgette Venetia
Jenkins, Beverly Indigo She’s amazing.
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Scandal in the Spring 
Kleypas, Lisa Mine till Midnight – I’d marry her.
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Milan, Courtney This Wicked Gift
Milan, Courtney The Countess Conspiracy
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette ScandalI want to be her.
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton 
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.

Florand

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Couples

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

This list is my favourite romance novel couples and there is a separate one for my favourite heroes and heroines as individual characters. If I put them in order, I’d never get this list published, so they aren’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date novella  CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him
Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Dukes Prefer Blondes  – LOVE THEM
Cole, Kresley Dark Desires After Duska guilty pleasure THUNDER SEX™!
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Dare, Tessa Any Duchess Will Do
Duran, Meredith Fool Me Twice
Florand, Laura All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Kiss
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch – Top 5 romance and couple
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Heart Whoops! One of my least favourite couples.
Florand, Laura Chase Me
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Garwood, Julie The Gift – Old School
Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess
Kelly, Carla The Lady’s Companion
Kelly, Carla Marrying the Captain
Kennedy, Elle The Deal
Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm
Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of You
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Again the Magic
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Love in the Afternoon
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Lauren, Christina Dirty Rowdy Thing
Linden, Caroline One Night in London
Long, Julie Anne Like No Other Lover
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Long, Julie Anne A Notorious Countess Confesses 
MacLean, Sarah One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
McNaught, Judith Almost Heaven  OLD SCHOOL
Milan, Courtney The Duchess War
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  IF YOU READ ONLY ONE…
Parker, Lucy Act Like It
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Natural Born Charmer
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Reid, Penny Beauty and the Mustache
Spencer, LaVyrle Vows
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC
Willig, Lauren The Seduction of the Crimson Rose 

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.

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The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I just hated them so much! I recommend none of them.

There can be no doubt, Kresley Cole would have more entries had I had continued reading her novels.

Sarina Bowen, Penny Reid, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips have the dubious distinction of being both on this list AND my recommendations list.

  1. Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
  2. Barrett, Jo Nothing to Commend Her (Magnus/Agatha)
  3. Bennett, Sawyer Alex: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel (Alex/Sutton)
  4. Berg, J.L. When You’re Ready (Logan/Clare)
  5. Blair, Annette Jacob’s Return (Jacob/Rachel)
  6. Blake, Jennifer The Tuscan’s Revenge Wedding (Nico/Amanda)
  7. Bliss, Chelle Throttle Me – Men of Inked Book 1 (“City” Joey/Suzy)
  8. Bowen, Sarina The Fifteenth Minute (DJ/Lianne)
  9. Boyce, Elizabeth Once a Duchess (Marshall/Isabelle)
  10. Brogan, Tracy Highland Surrender  (Myles/Fiona)
  11. Butler, Eden Thin Love (Kona/Keira)
  12. Callihan, Kristen Idol (Killian/Libby)
  13. Cole, Kresley A Hunger Like No Other  (Lachlain/Emma) VILE
  14. Cole, Kresley Macrieve  (Uilliam/Chloe) VILER
  15. Darcy, Norma The Bluestocking and the Rake (Robert/Georgiana)
  16. Dee, Cara Noah (Noah/Julian)
  17. DiPasqua, Lila Undone (Simon/Angelica) *Worst of 2013*
  18. Dune, Lyla Low Tide Bikini (Brock/Sam)
  19. Ford, Rhys Sinner’s Gin (Kane/Miki)
  20. Foster, Melissa Sisters in Love (Blake/Danica) a. God b. Awful
  21. Garvis Graves, Tracey Heart-Shaped Hack (Ian/Kate) – Worst of 2016 Contender
  22. Goodger, Jane When a Duke Says I Do (Alexander/Elsie)
  23. Harber, Cristin Sweet Girl (Cash/Nicola)
  24. Hawkins, J.D. Insatiable 1 and 2 (Jax/Lizzie)
  25. Jackson, A.L. A Stone in the Sea (Sebastian “Baz”/Shea)
  26. Johnson, Julie Not You, It’s Me (Chase/Gemma)
  27. Kell, Amber Attracting Anthony (Silver/Anthony)
  28. Lee, Jade Wedded in Scandal (Robert/Helaine)
  29. Lilley, R.K. In Flight (James/Bianca)
  30. Long, Andie M. The Alphabet Game (Gabe/Stella)
  31. Mabie, M. Bait (Casey/Blake)
  32. Malone, M. Tank (“Tank” Tanner/Emma)
  33. McNaught, Judith Once and Always (Jason/Victoria)
  34. Merrow, J.L Muscling Through (Al/Larry)
  35. Michaels, Jess An Introduction to Pleasure: Mistress Matchmaker (Andrew/Lysandra!)
  36. Novark, Anna Marie The Doctor Wears a Stetson (Cameron/Jessie)
  37. Pamfiloff, Mimi Jean fugly (Maxwell/Lily)
  38. Phillips, Susan Elizabeth This Heart of Mine (Kevin/Molly) WORST HEROINE OF 2014
  39. Reid, Penny Elements of Chemistry (Martin/Kaitlyn)
  40. Reid, Penny & L.H. Cosway The Hooker and the Hermit (Ronan/Annie)
  41. Roberts, Holly S. Play: New Adult Sports Romance (Killian/Rebecca)
  42. Schone, Robin The Lady’s Tutor (Ramiel, The Bastard Sheikh/Elizabeth)
  43. Singh, Nalini Rock Addiction (Fox/Molly)
  44. Stewart, Nicole Home for Three (Selwyn/Jack/Kess)
  45. Vale, Vanessa Their Kidnapped Bride (Kane, Ian, Emma) Worst of the Year 2016
  46. Ward, JR Dark Lover (Wrath/Beth)
  47. Wylde, Anya Penelope (Charles/Penelope) *Most Inept of 2013*

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Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

This right here is a contemporary comic Gothic romance novel.  Equal parts Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey, and likely other nineteenth century novels, mostly British, that I should have read while at university, Heroes Are My Weakness features a tortured hero, an innocent in over her head, schemes, machinations, a forbidding landscape, and a surprisingly unannoying plot moppet.

Unemployed, impoverished, sick, and freezing, Annie has arrived on an island off the coast of Maine in January to take up temporary residence in a small cottage. Owing to inheritance stipulations, Annie must occupy the small house for 90 days each year. Failure to do so will make possession of the cottage revert to the larger estate on which it sits. The main house is occupied by Theo, her childhood love and tormentor, as well as his beleaguered housekeeper. Theo is brooding, brusque, and the kind of person who, in the dead of winter, decides to ride his horse shirtless. (Note: Theo is shirtless, not the horse, the horse is wearing a frock coat.) Essentially, Theo is Mr. Rochester if there was a much less freaky explanation for his conduct.

Annie settles in and, as is the way of Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, forms a community around herself, an improvised family. Off-island, she is a ventriloquist who teaches lessons to school children using her puppets. On-island, the puppets are along for the ride and represent elements of her personality,   chiming in with opinions and unhelpful information. It is as twee as it sounds, but Phillips kinda, sorta pulls it off as she is very good at being simultaneously sincere and whimsical. Plagued by intrusions at her cottage, Annie and Theo draw closer as they sort out the threat to her safety, work through their issues, and untangle their pasts.

Heroes Are My Weakness was mostly enjoyable and, as expected from Phillips, frequently laugh-out-loud funny, but there was a lot going on. The sundry machinations of just about every character get pretty thick on the ground and it felt like everyone had a big secret and ulterior motives. On the whole it worked reasonably well, but Phillips has other books I would recommend more highly.

Also by Susan Elizabeth Phillips:

  1. It Had to Be You
  2. Heaven, Texas
  3. Nobody’s Baby But Mine
  4. Dream a Little Dream
  5. This Heart of Mine – only Kresley Cole has ever made me angrier
  6. Match Me If You Can
  7. Natural Born Charmer – This is the book I recommend more highly.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful which includes the aforementioned observations.

The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, these are ruthlessly streamlined recommendations lists –

So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started
Plus just for funsies: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I have more content based lists over there on the right  –>

Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2017
On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on double-secret probation right now actually)
Laura Florand
Lisa Kleypas
Julie Anne Long
Courtney Milan – The. Very. Best.

-A-
Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/ Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
Ashley, Jennifer Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage (Mac/Isabella)
Ashley, Jennifer Many Sins of Lord Cameron (Cameron/Ainsley) – GUILTY PLEASURE
Ashley, Jennifer The Duke’s Perfect Wife (Hart/Eleanor)
Ashley, Jennifer Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift (Ian, Mac, Cam, Hart)
Ashley, Jennifer The Seduction of Elliott McBride (Elliott/Juliana)
Ashley, Jennifer The Untamed Mackenzie novella (Lloyd/Louisa)
Ashley, Jennifer The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Daniel/Violet)
Ashley, Jennifer Scandal and the Duchess novella (Steven/Rose)
Ashley, Jennifer Rules for a Proper Governess (Sinclair/Roberta “Bertie”)
Ashley, Jennifer A Mackenzie Clan Gathering (Ian/Beth)
Ashley, Jennifer Bodyguard (Shifters Unbound) novella (Ronan/Elizabeth)

The list has gotten SO VERY LONG, please click on the jump.

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The Chicago Stars Series (Most of It): It Had to Be You; Heaven, Texas; Nobody’s Baby But Mine; Dream a Little Dream; This Heart of Mine; Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

All of the books in the Chicago Stars contemporary romance series are built around the world of professional athletes and the women who want to climb them like trees. It’s a rarefied bubble that allows for the same kind of lifestyle fantasy as the aristocratic and wealthy world of historical romance. Almost every story also features an older couple getting a second chance at love.

  1. It Had to Be You
  2. Heaven, Texas
  3. Nobody’s Baby But Mine
  4. Dream a Little Dream
  5. This Heart of Mine – only Kresley Cole has ever made me angrier
  6. Match Me If You Can
  7. Natural Born Charmer – very entertaining and I recommend it

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a good writer with a successful formula and a long career. She’s clever and witty, but more than one of these books suffers from tropes that are outdated and/or offensive. Since Natural Born Charmer is the most recent of the series, it is the one I would recommend. I did try Call Me Irresistible and The Great Escape from her more recent collection. The former never captured my attention and the latter had a love scene involving the literal use of a licorice whip. Yowch.

It Had to Be You – 1994

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The Chicago Stars Series: Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Natural Born Charmer is a contemporary romance of the “you are everything I never knew I always wanted” variety with subplots of familial healing thrown in. Given the number of people with fractured or messed up families, I’m not surprised to see this element featured in several of the contemporary romances I’ve read. In addition to the main couple, there is a subplot featuring the hero’s parents who are also messed up and trying to find their way to stability. Natural Born Charmer has the slightly heightened reality common to romances, it’s sweet without being treacly and cacklingly funny.

Dean Robillard is gorgeous, rich, incredibly well-dressed, and gorgeous some more; to wit, “You look like an ad for gay porn.” (I’m still laughing.) A professional football player, his golden life looks perfect from the outside, but his broken relationship with his mother, his dissatisfaction, and his current road trip say otherwise. All that changes when he sees a woman in a headless beaver costume stomping down a side road. Blue Bailey (Hush, it’s a totally cool name.) is a feisty mess. A peripatetic artist, she moved from Seattle to Denver just in time to be dumped by the boyfriend she moved there to join. Alone, jobless, and broke, her car has just died and she is stuck. Claiming to be gay to make her feel comfortable, Dean offers to drive Blue first to her apartment, then to Nashville, and eventually to rural Tennessee where he is going to check on the farmhouse he is having renovated. She never leaves.

Blue and Dean are both deliciously sardonic and sarcastic. I found myself throwing my head back and laughing in the way they always describe in these books, but you don’t really believe is true until it happens to you. They also have abandonment issues and not necessarily healthy coping mechanisms, but eventually manage to figure things out. While their personal relationships are improved, they are not perfect, and there is a nice examination of what happens when children are let down by their parents, even if it is for a really good reason.

A great example of the genre, Natural Born Charmer is a very well executed and sweet read. I have already taken out three more Susan Phillips novels from my library to start working  through her back catalogue…

I have now reviewed almost every other book in Phillip’s Chicago Stars series as well, although I don’t really recommend them, but I do get tremendously angry with one of the heroines.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my list of books by author.