Rachel Stone's bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car's that's spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she's come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she'll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .
A man With No Heart
Gabe Bonner wants to be left alone, especially by the beautiful outcast who's invaded his property. She has a ton of attitude, a talent for trouble, and a child who brings back bad memories. Yet Rachel's feisty spirit might just be heaven-sent to save a tough, stubborn man.
Dare To Dream
Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who's forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.
I MET MY HUSBAND
on a blind date. He was in college at the time, studying engineering. I blush to confess that, as an arty ex-theater major, I wasn't exactly sure what engineering was. To this day, he reminds me that I asked him if it had anything to do with "fixing toasters." (Okay, I wasn't too bright, but I had a good heart.)
I GOT PREGNANT
the usual way. Bill and I had been married for two years and wanted to start a family. He was out of town on business the night I went into labor with our first son, but he made it back in time to witness the birth. He was also at my side when our second son was born. Today, our boys are in their twenties and, next to their father, the loves of my life.
I STARTED TO WRITE
completely by accident. I taught high school until our oldest son was born, then quit to stay home. In 1976 my husband's job took us from Ohio to central New Jersey. My best friend Claire lived two doors down the street. Both of us were big readers, reading everything from literary fiction to the newly popular historical romance novels. We loved talking about the books—what we liked, what we didn't. One day, just for fun, we decided to try to write a book together. For three weeks, as we rode our bikes in the evening, with my toddler in the baby seat behind me, we plotted our story. Then we sat down with a yellow pad and began to write.
FOUR HOURS LATER
we'd come up with exactly three sentences. We had no idea how to write a book together, but we were getting a good idea how not to do it. Over the course of the next few months, we worked out a system. We'd get together to plot a scene, frequently role-playing dialogue. Claire would take copious notes, carry them to her typewriter, and come up with a rough draft, which she'd give to me. Sometimes I'd just change a sentence here or there. Other times, I'd throw out all of her hard work and start over again. Somehow our friendship survived.
With only half the manuscript completed, we got the phone number of an editor at Dell Publishing. Sweating bullets, we called her. She was a very nice woman; she asked us some questions about our book, and then agreed to see it, even though it wasn't finished. Unfortunately, she also wanted to see a synopsis. Synopsis? We barely knew what was going to happen in the next chapter, let alone at the end of the book. Knees trembling, we ran to the typewriter and came up with something, then spent the next few weeks typing a fresh copy of our manuscript to mail off.
THREE WEEKS LATER
the telephone rang. It was the editor. "I'm calling from Dell Publishing. We've read your manuscript. We like it. And Dell is prepared to make you an offer."
JUST LIKE THAT…WE'RE PUBLISHED!
I never tell this story at writers' luncheons for fear I'll have to duck flying French rolls thrown by an angry audience. It sounds so easy, but the market was red-hot then, and publishers were hungry for books. Unfortunately, it's not so easy now. It took us another year to finish the book, which was published in 1983 as The Copeland Bride, under the pseudonym Justine Cole. (I wanted to use Chastity Savage, but Claire wouldn't let me.) The book is now out of print, which is probably a good thing because it's not at all politically correct and I'd get deluged with angry letters if it were ever reissued. Still, I'm incredibly proud of it. Considering the fact that neither Claire nor I had ever written so much as a short story, we did a pretty good job, despite a couple of rapes here and there.
ABANDONED AND PREGNANT
(Actually, I wasn't pregnant, but I want to keep your attention in case you're getting bored.) Claire hadn't been bitten as deeply by the writing bug as I had. Her husband was transferred to the Southwest, and her dream of going to law school came true. She is now leading an exciting life as an extremely successful assistant U.S. attorney for one of our border states. I, on the other hand, had to learn how to write a book by myself.
SCARED TO DEATH
I plunged into another historical romance, which was eventually published as Risen Glory and has since been reissued by Avon Books as Just Imagine. This was my first book written as Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and, yes, that's my real name. Writing alone wasn't nearly as much fun as writing with a friend, but I had all these stories tumbling over each other in my head, and I didn't seem to have a choice. I went on to write Glitter Baby, my first women's fiction contemporary novel. Wow! The book had huge international sales and received a lot of attention in this country. I finally had a real career going.
in the Chicago area, I begin writing what I think of now as my "big books," Fancy Pants, Hot Shot, and Honey Moon. I loved these books. A bit more mainstream than what I'm writing now, each one took me at least two years to complete. All were published by Pocket Books and are still in print. As I wrote these books, I discovered my contemporary "voice." Unfortunately, although the books were doing well in the international market, it was taking me so long to write them that American readers didn't know who I was. I had to speed up! Luckily, I was finally developing enough self-confidence in my own abilities to relax a little.
NORA ROBERTS SAYS,
"I can fix a bad page, but I can't fix a blank one." I found the courage to fill my screen with bad pages on those days when my mind was mush, then trust myself to fix them later.
A FOOTBALL PLAYER COMES CALLING
—in my mind, at least. For a long time I'd been wanting to write about a woman who knows nothing about sports and inherits a professional football team. My first romantic comedy, It Had to Be You, was the result. This book carried me to my new publisher, Avon, and reenergized my career.
A GOOD FAIRY WAVES HER MAGIC WAND
Her name is Carrie Feron, and she's the Editorial Director at Avon Books. Thanks to her magic, It Had to Be You; Heaven, Texas; and Kiss an Angel were published within eighteen months of each other. Readers finally knew who I was, and, just when I thought things couldn't get any better, Nobody's Baby But Mine was released. I was signing books at a wonderful store in St. Louis when I got that news that, not only had it landed on the USA Today Top 50 bestseller list, but it was number fifteen! When Dream a Little Dream made the New York Times bestseller list, I was home by myself, which might have been a good thing because no one could hear what a fool I made of myself when I screamed.
IF I'M SUCH A BIG STAR, WHY AM I STILL WASHING DISHES?
Short answer—because they're there! (And nobody else is rushing to do them.) As the boys have left home, I've fallen in love with gardening—planning my garden in the winter and trying to execute those plans in the summer. I'm also an art museum junkie, so if I'm scheduled to come to your city on a book tour, you can bet I'll do my best to squeeze in a few hours at your local art museum. But I'm most happy when I'm wearing a pair of hiking boots and walking a trail somewhere in the world with family or girlfriends. With both sons married to wonderful women, family continues to be at the center of my life. I'll turn off my computer in a second to meet one of our sons for lunch or go off with my husband to romp with our two beautiful grandbabies. I love to travel, but can't let it interfere too much with my writing schedule. A dream trip with Bill walking through Tuscany inspired Breathing Room. I've also taken wonderful "Ladies Only" trips with my darling sister: Bermuda, Northern California, Santa Fe, Paris, London and most recently The Netherlands. In 2005 I hiked segments of the Coast-to-Coast walk across Northern England. Later, I walked through some of the most beautiful hills and villages of the Dordogne Valley in southwestern France, and in August 2007, I took my most challenging hike in Canada's magnificent Banff and Yoho National Parks. Wherever I go, I bring books with me. I love romance and "women's fiction/relationship books" and am a big reader of the genre.
MCSTEAMY'S GORGEOUS EYES
have nothing to do with this last paragraph, but if you're still with me, I want you to know that I do my best to keep my website (susanelizabethphillips.com) fresh. I'm also active on the Message Board. (If you see a post from SEP, you know that's me!) Be sure to sign up for my monthly contest and my newsletter, so I can let you know when my next book will be on the shelves. Now go hug somebody special!read more
I did not like this one as much as This Heart of Mine, Natural Born Charmer, or It Had to be You. I found it lacking in funny dialogue (I suppose my expectations should be lower given the seriousness of some of the issues that run through this book but I've come to expect a certain amount of entertaining banter and didn't get it here) and I really disliked most of the characters. I think the only character really enjoyed was Kristy. Her side story with Ethan was actually more enjoyable for me than the main storyline.read more
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I only got about 5 hours of sleep last night, and I hold SEP fully responsible. I was about halfway through Dream a Little Dream when I went to bed, and do you think she'd let up a little so I could go to sleep? No. She even... (and I really hate to admit this) made me cry. I haven't met the woman, though I've heard stories HERE and HERE, and maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but I didn't think she'd be the type to begrudge someone a few hours of sleep. Guess I was wrong.(yes, I'm silly this morning--I only got about 5 hours of sleep! Weren't you paying attention?)Anyway. The book. I was tearing up in the first 50 pages. What kind of sadist writes a little kid saying "Now, mommy? Are we going to die now?" God. And of course she had to go and make the characters compelling and interesting people that I really cared about.Rachel is the widow of a charlatan televangelist. She and her 5-year-old son are homeless, living in their car. She's made her way back to their hometown in search of the money her husband had left hidden, and finds that people there have long memories and are not inclined to forgive what's left of a man who betrayed them all.The only job she can find is helping angry recluse Gabe rebuild a drive-in movie theater. Gabe had lost his wife and son to a drunk driver two years before, and he wants nothing to do with a woman and child who remind him of what he's lost. Yet he can't bring himself to turn her away, particularly not when even his brother, the town's pastor, refuses to show her any compassion.It's an intense story of a man who's given up, and a woman who refuses to.There's just so much right with this story, I don't know where to begin. I normally don't like children in romances--they're almost never realistic with regard to their ages, and they tend to conveniently disappear for chapters at a time. That doesn't happen here. Rachel's son is a five-year-old boy for whom the only permanent thing in his life is his mother.Likewise, Rachel's desperation and determination, and Gabe's despair and buried anger are very real.And it doesn't stop there. The townspeople, most of them bitter and angry, yet professing themselves to be good Christians. Again, very real. And, surprisingly, they're not written as a criticism of religion--they're just human. Fallible, understandable.There's even a secondary romance, between Pastor Ethan and his long-time friend and secretary Kristy, and they both have to grow and change for it to work.I'm used to SEP's books being a little lighter--in the same way as Jennifer Crusie's: laughter over pain. Dream a Little Dream isn't like that. But it just proves what I've thought for a long time. Good writing is good writing, and almost always, if I like how an author writes one kind of book, I'll like how she writes another.read more
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I enjoyed this book. I really liked Rachael. She used humor to help her get through some really rough situations. I felt like SEP did a good job expressing what Gabe was going through. It was very sad. I really did enjoy this book and the only reason I gave it 4 1/2 stars instead of 5 was because it was just a little bit too sad for me. I have a hard time reading about children who are sick or die and I'm not sure if it's a subject I care to approach when I pick up a romance. However, I did really enjoy the book overall.read more
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Setting her story in Salvation, N.C., Phillips adeptly develops the theme of love's healing power. Broke and desperate to provide a better life for her son, gutsy Rachel Stone ends up in Salvation when her car breaks down. She knows the placeeven worse, they know her as the widow of G. Dwayne Snopes, a televangelist who fled stealing millions. Luckily, Gabe Bonner, who owns a drive-in theater where Rachel asks for work, seems to be the only person who doesn't recognize her right off. Rachel's proud mettle distracts Gabe from the grief of his own tragic loss, but enemies strike out at Rachel, while Gabe's brothers mount a family defense against the gold-digging widow. Phillips (Heaven, Texas) digs deep to expose weaknesses and strengths in the psyche and faith of her characters. The result is a book that is touching, funny, sexy and humane.(Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved