Monday 11 August 2014

#CBR6 Book 85: "This Heart of Mine" by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Page count: 420 pages
Rating: 1 star

Warning! This review will contain spoilers for the book, because it's impossible for me to convey all my vitriol without going into plot specifics. 

Molly Sommerville (who we first met as a frankly horrid teenager in It Had to Be You) is now all grown up and making a living as a children's book author, writing illustrated books about Daphne the Bunny, a rabbit who appears to wear designer clothes and going on adventures based on events in Molly's own life. While Molly inherited a multi-million dollar fortune from her horrible father, the former owner of the Chicago Stars, she gave it all away to a charitable foundation some years back (this is the only likable thing she does in the WHOLE book). Every few years, Molly appears to feel bored and acts out in crazy ways. She tends to change her hair drastically before each such crazy act.

Molly has had an unrequited crush on Kevin Tucker, the star quarterback of the Chicago Stars, for years. He lives a life of dating foreign fashion models and doing extreme sports and barely knows she exists. There's a badger in Molly's twee little books based on him. Then one weekend, Kevin and Molly find themselves in the same house in the country, and Molly seems to think that it would be a good idea to get undressed and get into bed with man she's been in love with, while he's asleep. He, thinking he is dreaming, has sex with her, and wakes up, appalled that his boss' younger sister is naked in bed with him, and took advantage of him. Molly has the audacity to be disappointed that the sleep sex she initiated wasn't great. Kevin points out that she basically RAPED him, and they go their separate ways.

Of course Molly gets pregnant, and when Phoebe, her overprotective sister, and Dan, her brother-in-law discover it, they don't rest until they've figured out who the baby daddy is. Now, Kevin is worried he'll be seen as a victim (and also doesn't want to piss off his boss), so says nothing about the RAPE. Molly, because she's a terrible human being, refuses to come clean about her horrible nocturnal sexual assault, and the two are forced to marry. Molly miscarries shortly thereafter, because I guess karma's a bitch. I want to stress here, to any reader of my reviews who may be offended, that I would never wish a miscarriage on any woman in real life, but Molly is a fictional character, and a reprehensible one at that. I wanted nothing but bad things for her. Losing the baby she gained from RAPE only seems like cosmic justice.

When Kevin discovers that his shotgun wedding bride is languishing away, all depressed because she lost their baby, he takes her along to the holiday cabins his parents owned, because he thinks it'll do her good to get away and he needs to sell the place. Having spent every single summer there as a child, surrounded by middle aged people, Kevin has no fond memories of the holiday camp, and can't wait to unload it on someone else. Molly, however, decides that the place looks like the real life version of her children's book universe, and does everything in her power to make Kevin see how "exciting" it is there, mainly by getting herself into dangerous situations, so he has to rescue her.

Even having been warned by Mrs. Julien's review that this was a terrible book, I forced myself to keep reading it, hoping against all hope that maybe Molly would show some sort of redemptive qualities. But no, she's awful all the way through. I felt really bad, because Kevin is such a good guy, and I loved him as a supporting character in Nobody's Baby But Mine. He deserved so much better than an emotionally manipulative, spoiled shrew of a wife. When she climbed into bed with him, I was uncomfortable. By the time she has the nerve to express disappointment that the sex she had with a SLEEPING man who she took advantage of wasn't as great as she'd hoped, I wanted to throw my e-reader across the room in disgust. I didn't really like Molly in her first appearance in the series, but here I outright hated her.

Not only did I hate Molly, but because Phoebe and Dan from It Had to Be You are supporting characters in this, and behave absolutely atrociously to Kevin all the way through, I now retroactively dislike their book a lot more too. The end of book, when Phoebe basically forces Kevin to choose between his career or staying married to the woman who sexually assaulted him and that the Calebows forced him to marry, in order to orchestrate some sort of elaborate grand gesture had me swearing loudly. Which reminds me, another reason this book pissed me off. Instead of swearing, Molly says "Slytherin" every time she's upset. Of her many deplorable qualities, it was probably one of the least bad, but it was still incredibly annoying.

The only reason this book is getting a full one star is because I liked the secondary romance between Kevin's birth mother and a famous artist. I wish poor Kevin had sold the holiday cottages (having always hated camping I was firmly on his side about his super boring childhood summers), drowned Molly and run off with someone worthy of him. At least now Lisa Kleypas no longer needs to worry about being responsible for the worst romance I've read this year. I cannot imagine anything I'll read this year that I'll hate more than this book. I honestly don't know if Susan Elizabeth Phillips was trying to do some form of clever reversal of the "heroine falls in love with her rapist" trope that so frequently occurred in Old School romances. If that was her intention, she failed. Badly. Do yourself a favour and avoid this book like the plague.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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