Something you might not know about me is that I like to have mini-celebrations on certain days throughout the year. I find that those celebrations inject a little something special into an otherwise ordinary routine. I inherited this practice from my mom, I think, who inherited it from her mom, my grandma. When I was growing up, every time there was a big snowstorm we made cookies and walked to the movie theater. When my dad would go away on business, we took special trips to the mall. A couple times every summer, we took very spontaneous evening trips to our local amusement park. My childhood was filled with these kinds of mini-celebrations, and I carried them into my adult life, and introduced them to my husband and the life we are building.
Still, when a big snowstorm hits I fire up my oven for cookies or various other snow day treats. We celebrate Friday mornings, instead of waiting until Friday night to get into weekend mode. We often turn Sunday nights into pizza nights instead of the more mundane anticipation of the impending work week. And yesterday, I celebrated the longest day with an early park run, ice cream, and a romance novel.
And as I was reading my book, it occurred to me that it was a book I had yet to recommend to you. In fact, it was a book that did not even appear on the list of books I planned to recommend to you. And then my mind started sparking with other books I had not yet mentioned in my Thursday posts. I apologize faithful readers, for I have been remiss. Because there are many books - many delightful and amazing books - that I inadvertently left off my list because they don't exactly fit into any category. They are entities unto themselves.
So while today's post was supposed to introduce you to the most fantastical of romance novels, I had to change gears (don't worry, we will get to witches, wizards, time travel, ghosts and the like...stay tuned). And so, I am pleased to welcome you to Part IV of my Romance Novel Recommendation Series. Today, we are talking about books I like to call "miscellaneous." They don't really fit into any of my other highly subjective categories, but are no less brilliant and fun. Most of them stand alone, not really part of a series. But still, I implore you to give them a try.
All the books here are written by the delightful Susan Elizabeth Phillips - and I can attest to the delightful, as I actually met her in person at last summer's Romance Writers of America convention. Yes, I actually did attend part of this convention. More on that another time.
So, grab a snack, choose one of these books, and make it a part of your own special day of celebration. I promise, you won't be sorry.
Hot Shot - Susan Elizabeth Phillips (1991)
In a single, impulsive act, Susannah Faulconer, the daughter of one of the country's most powerful industrialists, follows her heart and finds herself severed from her family and everything familiar. As a San Francisco socialite, she'd known exactly how to behave, but now she's a lone woman in a world of men, and there's no etiquette book in the world that can teach her how to survive. The men are rebels, determined to take on corporate America with daring and vision, and they aren't going to let her play by good girls' rules. There's Sam, the charismatic visionary, on a rocket-driven ride to glory. And Mitch, the troubled corporate genius with no time for a rich socialite, no matter how beautiful. Together, they will force Susannah into the biggest challenge of her life as she tests her courage - and her love - in a bold experiment that will change them all forever. Come share a glorious, heart-stopping love story, and meet the unforgettable woman called Hot Shot as she discovers a passion so rich, so tender, that she will be utterly and forever transformed.
Breathing Room - Susan Elizabeth Phillips (2003)
Dr. Isabel Favor, author of Four Cornerstones for a Favorable Life, has sacrificed everything to build her self-help empire. Then, in a matter of weeks, it all comes crashing down. She loses her money to an unscrupulous accountant, her fiancé to a frumpy older woman, and her reputation to headlines denouncing her as a fraud. America's diva of self-help soon discovers she can fix everyone's life but her own. Broke, heartsick, and soul-weary, she heads for Italy in search of a little breathing room. Lorenzo Gage makes his living killing people, on the silver screen, that is. He's viciously handsome and sublimely talented. But as he begins his vacation in Italy, he's also vaguely dissatisfied. Being a villain with a face to die for has its rewards, but he hates the feeling that everything he's neglected in life is catching up with him. Then he spots Isabel sipping a glass of wine in a sidewalk café. A good guy wouldn't think of seducing such a tidy-looking woman, but he'd never seen the fun in playing the hero. It doesn't take long for Isabel to realize she's escaped one kind of chaos only to be plunged into another. Even the shelter of a simple stone farmhouse nestled in a Tuscan olive grove can't provide her with the refuge she needs—not when the townspeople are scheming to drive her away, and her plan to restore her reputation has come up empty. And especially not when the man who deceived her refuses to leave her in peace.
Ain't She Sweet - Susan Elizabeth Phillips (2005)
Sugar Beth Carey's come back to Parrish, Mississippi, and she's brought her reputation for wreaking havoc with her. She's broke, desperate, and too proud to show it, even with her old enemies lining up for a chance to get even. Winnie Davis, her longtime rival, is fully armed with the money, power, and prestige that had once been Sugar Beth's. But worst of all is Colin Byrne, the man whose career Sugar Beth had destroyed, and not exactly accidentally. Now Colin's a famous novelist living in Sugar Beth's old mansion, and this modern day dark prince is using his writer's imagination to figure out how to bring the town's beautiful former princess to her knees. But despite her sassy mouth, feisty spirit, and hardheaded ways, Sugar Beth's no longer the spoiled rich girl they all remember. No, now she's a woman to be reckoned with, and a great big reckonin' is about to happen, not least of all for one dark prince who might - just might - be thinking about falling in love with the wickedest girl in town.
Glitter Baby* - Susan Elizabeth Phillips (reprint, 2008)
Fleur Savagar is the most beautiful woman in the world, to everyone but herself. With her oversized hands and paddle-boat feet, her streaky blond hair and funny green eyes, she lives a life filled with secrets that began before she was born. That was when her bewitching mother left home to find James Dean and met Errol Flynn instead. Now Fleur has to grow up quickly, and life won't make that easy. Jake Koranda is both New York's most brilliant playwright and Hollywood's hottest actor. Difficult, talented, and tormented, he has no patience for international glamour girls, not even ones with beautiful bodies and smart-aleck mouths. But there's more to the Glitter Baby than shine, and Fleur's tougher than Jake expects. Even with the odds stacked against her, she's fiercely determined to discover the woman she's destined to be.
Call me Irresistible* - Susan Elizabeth Phillips (2011)
Lucy Jorik's the daughter of a former U.S. President. Meg Koranda's the offspring of legends. One of them is about to marry Mr. Irresistible—Ted Beaudine—the favorite son of Wynette, Texas. The other is determined to save her friend from a mess of heartache. Meg knows breaking up her best friend's wedding is the right thing to do, but no one else agrees. Faster than Lucy can say “I don't,” Meg's the most hated woman in town, and stuck there with a dead car, an empty wallet, and a very angry bridegroom. Broke, stranded, without her famous parents watching her back, Meg believes she can survive by her own wits. After all, what's the worst that can happen? She'll lose her heart to Mr. Irresistible? Not likely. Not likely at all.
*These books can be read independently, but contain many characters that appear in other books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. For purposes of completeness, those books (in order, including the books above) are:
Natural Born Charmer
What I Did For Love
Call Me Irresistible
The Great Escape (released July 10, 2012)