Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Published: 2002, Avon
Category: Contemporary Romance
I'm a pretty big fan of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and have read quite a few of her books. I've picked Breathing Room off library and bookstore shelves many times and put it right back after reading the first line of the blurb:
She's Dr. Isabel Favor, America's diva of self-help.She's a self-help guru. God help me. I don't do psychobabble. I can't watch Oprah or Dr. Phil or any of those people because they annoy the crap out of me. But I was in the mood for SEP and this one was right there on the library shelf, so I decided to give it a shot. I tried to keep an open mind, really I did. But I just couldn't really like it.
Isabel Favor is a famous self-help, what, psychologist I guess. She's got bestselling books and lecture tours and whatnot, but she also has a crooked accountant who has been embezzling and scamming both her and the IRS. So her company is destroyed and she's a laughing stock because she's been preaching on the ways to keep your life organized and hers has just fallen apart. And she's been dumped by her fiance. So she goes to Tuscany for a few months to regroup and decide what exactly she's going to do now. (I bet other people who lose their jobs wish they could just jaunt over to Italy for a couple months. Sheesh.)
In Italy she meets Lorenzo Gage who is an actor, famous for always playing bad guys. The two meet and are attracted to each other, and decide to have a fling. And they think they can keep it cool and just have a fun, physical relationship. Someone should have told them they were in a romance novel. That never works.
There were some things I liked about this book. Phillips always does great dialogue--snappy and funny. I loved the Italian setting. And the characters were interesting and more complex than you sometimes have. But I just found Isabel irritating. One of those people who think they know better than everyone else. About everything.
And the psychobabble was too much for me. Troubled childhood=need to control everything. Troubled childhood=low self-esteem=only able to see himself as a villain. You want your characters to grow and change and discover things about themselves, but this just felt too heavy-handed. Like I was being beaten over the head with the message. And they talked, talked, talked, and I was bored, bored, bored.
I think this is one of those books that people either love or hate. I didn't hate it, but I wasn't sorry to see the end of it.