This Heart of Mine
When it comes to Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I absolutely love It Had to be You and Lady Be Good but I have had less luck with Nobody’s Baby But Mine and Dream a Little Dream. Still, like many of her fans, I have been looking forward to catching up with Molly Somerville and Kevin Tucker from earlier books and seeing what SEP had planned for them.
It’s been 12 years since we last saw Molly Somerville in It Had to be You; she now lives in rather spartan conditions, and writes the Daphne the Bunny children’s books as well as columns for the teen magazine Chik. She has given away the $15 million she received from her late father, the owner of the Chicago Stars football team, although not many people know this. Kevin Tucker, star quarterback of the Stars, for one, continues to believe she is just another snotty heiress. Worse, he doesn’t even remember her name, and poor Molly, who has had a crush on Kevin for years, can’t believe a Summa Cum Laude grad like herself could be interested in a womanizing, daredevil jock like Kevin. But interested she is.
Once in a while, Molly gets restless and does something completely unexpected, usually after doing something really weird to her hair. When Phoebe notices her sister’s latest look, she sends Molly to her vacation house in Wisconsin for some peace and quiet, without knowing that Kevin is staying there as well, as a sort of detention for his own reckless behavior. Molly’s unexpected act this time, however, gets her into more trouble than she could have imagined, and when tragedy follows, her life and Kevin’s are changed forever. Their strained relationship slowly thaws as they work together at a B&B and dodge “helpful” advice from a pair of sex-crazed newlyweds, and when Kevin finally comes to realize he loves Molly, he is presented with the ultimate choice to make.
The characteristic humor I’ve come to enjoy from SEP books is present here, and it’s delightful. Excerpts from Molly’s writing (from both the Daphne the Bunny books and her Chik articles) serve as introduction to each chapter, paralleling Daphne the Bunny and Benny the Badger’s feelings and deeds to those of Molly and Kevin. At one point, Kevin jokingly considers suing after seeing his recent life depicted as Benny’s adventures. Kevin’s description of Molly as a “kid-woman” seems appropriate at times, especially with Phoebe and Dan always intervening in her life. Kevin copes with shock after shock as best he can, first with Molly and then when someone reenters his life after many years, but in the end he and Molly are exactly what the other has needed.
This was a case where the sum of the parts made for a good story, but some of them were used parts. Several areas of the plot have been seen before in other SEP books, i.e., the hostile marriage between hero and heroine, the bimbo-dating smart football player, the secondary romance between an older couple. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but keep referring (in my mind) to the original works, which was distracting, but this may or may not bother other readers. While This Heart of Mine didn’t earn keeper status from me, it was an enjoyable read.