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Friday, 13 July 2012

REVIEW: Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


Breathing Room by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Publication Date:April 29th 2003
Publisher:Avon Books
Paperback, 400 pages
Useful Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Book Depository

America's Diva of Self-Help, Dr. Isabel Favor, just lost her fiance to a disorganized earth mother, her accountant has absconded with her hard-earned money, and the empire she's built is in shambles. Seeking emotional shelter, she flees to Italy to find some peace. But for Isabel, the biggest disaster lies just ahead...in the gorgeous form of Lorenzo Gage, Hollywood's favorite villain. Before they know it, wine will flow, sparks will fly, and hearts will meld in this remarkable new bestseller from a writer at the pinnacle of her creative talents.

Review originally posted at Book Lovers Inc

I picked up Breathing Room feeling certain that it would be an amazing read. After all, I couldn't expect anything less by a book written by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Unfortunately, it turned out to be, not at all the book for me and certainly nothing I could even half enjoy.

At first, I couldn't really get into the book. But since that is the case with every single book I read by Phillips, I just thought that it would be something temporary and that I should give the characters some time to grow on me. Yeah right... That never happened. Up until the end of the book, I really disliked Isabel and I couldn't care less about Ren.

But let's take things slower.

As far as the plot is concerned, it couldn't grab me. I felt that it dragged at times, that it was uneven and all in all, the whole story of this book, despite what the summary indicates, couldn't appeal to me. And I'm sad to say this, because honestly, from the summary, the story was something right up my alley. The heroine is a psychologist with whom I could totally relate to and the hero a bad-buy movie star. We are talking about a fantasy here! But still, the way the story progressed couldn't grab my interest. Not by a long shot.

The romance was lukewarm for my taste, nothing like what I expected from the author and the twists by the end of the story to spice things up made me believe that I was reading a really bad soap opera. I mean, the mystery factor Phillips introduced to make this story something more than a romantic tale made me twist my eyes and want to throw this book out the window. It was bad. Really bad. That statue thing was unnecessary and didn't add anything else to this story but silliness. At least the way I saw it.

And now, let's get to the real factor that made me dislike this book so much. And that is Isabel Favor, the main heroine. I have quite sometime to dislike so much a hero. Firstly, I couldn't possibly regard her as the professional she claimed to be. I can't regard as a professional someone who bases his career on pop-psychology. Isabel kind of reminded me all those tv psychologists who believe that through generalisations they can actually help people who face problems. Whatever those problems may be. News here: that's not how the job is done.

Apart from that, she was truly a hypocrite. She was so snob and pretentious that by the middle of the story I was sure that there was simply nothing she could do to change my mind about her. She wanted to have sex but had to first categorise it into some spiritual or higher cause and then succumb to her obvious needs. Let me tell you that as a professional, she should know that having a healthy sexual life is crucial and if you have the need to persuade yourself that you are doing it for other more noble reasons isn't mirroring a healthy person.

She had so many problems herself and it strikes me as quite odd, the fact that she didn't ever thought to go to a professional herself to resolve her various problems. She was such a control freak that she had to manage everyone's life even if they clearly didn't ask for her help. It doesn't matter if that way she managed to save the day. You just can't possibly interfere to strangers' lives, just because you have a PhD.

Anyway, I can go on and on about all the things I hated on Isabel. Bottom line, she was just one of those characters that can totally spoil a book for you, and since there weren't many other things to balance the story in this book, everything went downhill pretty quickly. Among the things I really liked, apart from Phillips' exceptional writing was the setting of the book. The whole story took place in Tuscany and the descriptions were so vivid and well written that actually made me re-visit the place once more. And since my memories of the place are really fond, I really enjoyed that part of the book.

But despite the nice setting and descriptions, Breathing Room was a book I will certainly want to forget that I ever read. And it pains me to say so, cause Susan Elizabeth Phillips is truly an author I really admire. That being said, I can't possibly recommend this book. Better try the author's other, simply amazing books and skip this one.


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