Of all Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars books, This Heart of Mine is my favorite. She takes the sister of the heroine of It Had to be You (Molly Sommerville) and pairs her with the hero’s nemesis from Nobody’s Baby But Mine (Kevin Tucker). SEP admits she finagled their ages a bit to make the story work. She is forgiven because Molly and Kevin are a great couple.
Molly writes children’s books and is colorful and sparkly. Kevin is an immature jock who learns there’s more to life than football. There are rough moments when the author gets into some uncomfortable topics–example: sexual harassment isn’t always male to female. There are two parts that make me cry every time I read the book.
Sometimes I dislike SEP’s secondary romance plots. I’m undecided about the ones in this book. I do like that the older woman is sticking up for herself after years of marriage in which her desires were ignored. No one is going to push her around now. I found the young couple annoying, but they had to be in order to grow.
SEP intersperses excerpts from the heroine’s book throughout the novel, which I found enchanting. It was as if Molly couldn’t handle her emotions herself, so had to give them to her characters in order to acknowledge them. And like the older woman who doesn’t let anyone push her around, Molly, too, grows a backbone at the end of the book.
Kevin has to face his past–both at the hated church camp he’s inherited and his roots.
Molly and Kevin are layered and nuanced; they both grow in maturity.
Over all, I give this book five stars.