MJ’s Musings-Thursday Thought: SEP-FIRST LADY

This month’s Susan Elizabeth Phillips book review is one of my top three favorite SEP books: FIRST LADY. My paper copy is in the process of disintegrating, which means  an e-copy is in my future.

Again, this story is not part of her Chicago Stars football series. It does introduce a character who becomes a heroine in her own book.. I’ve seen it classified as part of her Wynette, Texas series, but the connection doesn’t happen until a couple of books later, so I believe that’s a stretch.

This book manages to wring my emotions each time I read it. The major romance trope is on-the-road.  NEELY (Nell) is the widow of the assassinated president of the United States who was coerced into continuing the job after her husband’s death. She manages to escape the White House and goes “undercover,” where she runs into  MAT, a disillusioned and discredited journalist trying to find the big story in order to reclaim his career.  They each have secrets, although Neely’s are the major ones. Mat’s big internal conflict is family. The primary issue between them, however, is trust.

The book was published in 2000, which means one or two things have changed since then, but the gist of the story rings true.

There is no secondary romance in this story, which is unusual in an SEP book. The on-the-road aspect of the story doesn’t leave room for that kind of subplot. There are plenty of wonderful characters in the novel, though, and one of them–Lucy, who grows up to be the heroine of another SEP novel–will shred your heart.

If I were to give out stars on a 1 to 5 scale, FIRST LADY would receive five.

MJ’s Musings: Book Bingo: TBR Pile-WICKED GAMES

My local RWA chapter is once again running a Book Bingo challenge. This year’s Bingo board is 96% different than last year’s challenge. The only square that has not changed is the center square: Written by a CNYRW member. I think this year’s contest is going to be more challenging for me than last year’s was.

However, the first square I completed was YOUR TBR PILE (this included your Kindle version of the TBR pile).  I chose WICKED GAMES by Jessica Clare.

The novel is heavily based on the TV program SURVIVOR. I’m sure there are aspects of other reality shows mixed into the concept, particularly the “romance”-based ones.  I was surprised I liked the book as much as I did, having never watched television of this genre. Well-written and fast-paced, the story could have bogged down describing the challenges. It didn’t. Yes, important parts of the plot were predictable, but the book was still a fun read.

MJ’s Musings: SEP-Kiss An Angel

In 2019, my Thursday Thoughts blog will feature a review of a Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel on the first Thursday of every month.

This month’s review is one of my top three favorite SEP books: KISS AN ANGEL. My paper copy disintegrated, so I purchased it on Kindle.

When I learn people who are SEP fans haven’t read this story, I am shocked. The excuse I hear most often is, “Isn’t that the circus book?” accompanied by a wrinkled nose, as in, “Eww.” Really? You would pass up an wonderful story because the backdrop is a circus? The setting isn’t merely a backdrop. It is also the device that explains a huge part of the hero’s behavior and is the driving force behind the heroine’s growth. The circus–a traveling mud show–is a character; a living, breathing entity.You accept a football universe. Why not a circus, which is more varied?

This book makes me cry every time I read it. It is a marriage of convenience story combined with on-the-road elements. DAISY is coerced into marrying  ALEX by her father, who claims his only child needs to “grow up.” That he has an ulterior motive for the match shouldn’t come as a surprise. How, you ask, can a father in a contemporary novel force his daughter to do anything? SEP has that covered.

Alex and Daisy’s individual growth toward Happily Ever After is deep and emotionally moving.

As in all of SEP’s novels, there is a secondary romance. I’m not a huge fan of many of those romances. Some feel a touch creepy-icky to me. The one in KISS AN ANGEL is borderline icky, but it suits the characters involved, and plays a major role in Daisy and Alex’s HEA.

If I were to give out stars on a 1 to 5 scale, KISS AN ANGEL would receive five.

The Secret About The Secret

Several years ago, this book took the US by storm.

Someone gifted me a copy, but I have not read it.

A friend did read it, and subscribed to the theories. She explained to me how it works, which sounded a lot like Abraham and the Law of Attraction: if you believe something wholly and completely, it will come to pass.

My take?

If that were true, no babies would ever go to bed hungry.

Texture: It’s the Details

My brain has always focused on the details of a scene. The minutia. I remember the wallpaper of my bedroom when I was two. It was tan with cowboys and lassos on it. My grandmother wore my favorite apron the day my parents brought my baby sister home from the hospital: white, with blue tea kettles on it. The kitchen was yellow, and the bassinette was next to the stove.

I think putting the details into a book adds texture. The details reveal character. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a genius at doing this. What I Did for Love is full of texture, and that’s why it’s one of my favorite books. Jennifer Crusie does it in Bite Me.  The books I go back to and re-read  all the time have the little details that appeal to me.

I need to remember to add these things in my own writing.