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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

TBR Challenge for January

For the New Year, the first month of the year, read a book that has the word "new," "one," or "first" in the title. Or, if you can't find one, read the first book of a series.

To participate, post a comment here or on your blog telling what you read, how it fit the challenge, what you thought of it, and how long it had been in your TBR pile.

I chose:

****½ First Lady by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Contemporary romance.

Cornelia Case (am I the only one who kept reading this as "Cordelia Chase"?) has been in the public eye for nearly her entire life--first as the daughter of the Vice President, then as the First Lady. And now that her husband has been assassinated, she thinks she'll get some privacy.

Think again. Her husband's Vice President, the new President, is single, and everyone (except Cornelia) thinks she'd be the best person to continue to fill that role. So she tries, but finally she can't take it anymore, and she escapes, disguised as an old woman.

Mat Jorik is a burned-out tabloid journalist who needs one good real news story to recover his integrity and his career. What he gets are his recently deceased ex-wife's daughters: a teenager named Lucy and a baby known only as Butt. When he discovers they're living alone, he loads them into their mother's ancient Winnebago--they won't fit in his sports car--to take them to their grandmother in Iowa, where they'll stay once he gets the paternity issue straightened out.

Mat and Nealy meet when her car is stolen, with all her money and belongings inside, and he offers her a ride in exchange for a loan and helping him out with the girls.

Everyone, except perhaps the baby, is concealing something. Nealy is hiding her identity and a Very Big Secret. Mat is hiding his profession. Lucy is hiding the baby's name and her vulnerability and another Very Big Secret. Despite that, they all become very close and form a family during the trip... a family that could fall apart at any moment.

A lot of the reviews called this an unusual story for SEP, but it seemed pretty usual to me--maybe we see different things in SEP's books. It has the humor and the rich emotional depth I've come to expect from her, as well as an impossible pairing. The characters were all very real--Nealy was absolutely convincing as a widowed First Lady, someone raised to public service, but for whom it's become just too much. Mat and Lucy were likewise very real. These were characters I could believe in.

First Lady had been in my TBR pile for a while--I'm not sure how long, but probably a couple of years. I'd fallen in love with SEP's writing some time ago and started collecting her backlist. I think I have them all now, but there are still some in the TBR pile. I'm glad the Challenge gave me the excuse to pull this one out sooner than I otherwise might have.


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I love SEP's Chicago Stars series and that what lead me to start collecting her backlist. "First Lady" is one of the book I haven't read yet. But after reading your review, I think I'm going to pretty soon :)

I can't wait for "Natural Born Charmer" to come out, it the next new book to the Chicago Stars series. Coming out in...I think Feb.
I am trying to become a 'critical' reader. Not that I really want to become one,it's just that I am surrounded by them. I love them--they make up for my usual gush--"omg , I loved this book but please do not ask me just why I loved this book ".

To be on topic. I read First Lady a long time ago. I thought it was different, entriguing. And in typical SEP fashion joins a hero and a heroine who have absolutely no possibility of an HEA.

And since I just finished Natural Born Charmer this has been brought home big time. Who could imagine a stranded beaver and the QB of the Stars ahving an HEA ?

LOL, Jill! I'm watching my mailbox for that one. :)

I think the reason I didn't think this was all that different is that I didn't start with the Chicago Stars books. There's the circus one, and the one with the drive-in theater owner & the widow of the televangelist & the golf one... First Lady fits in just fine with those.
Hi Jill !

About the beaver LOL..I heard you and the group at another site been talking about it ;) So jealous that you got Natural Born Charmer, already! How can that be?!
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