Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just Imagine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips ****

I have this (and every other SEP except Glitter Baby) on audio - and periodically do re-listens. Where the other pre-2008 SEPs are narrated by Anna Fields, this one has a different narrator. It works because the tone of the book is so different from any of the others. For one thing, it's her only historical, set after the Civil War, in South Carolina. For another, there's none of the trademark SEP humor - it's a straight-forward drama.

The heroine is hoydenish Kit, an 18-year-old orphan, going to New York to murder the man, Caron Cain, who inherited the plantation owned by her father. Baron's mother was Kit's father's second wife. When he died, the wife inherited - when she died, she left both the plantation, Risen Glory, and the guardianship of Kit to her son. She doesn't manage to kill him, but it sets the tone for their relationship. Cain sends her off to finishing school for 3 years - and when she returns, she's grown up - a lot - and he doesn't even recognize her.

The sexual tension between them is an extension of their earlier antagonistic relationship. Once he realizes she is out to marry anyone so that she can get her inheritance earlier, and therefore buy Risen Glory from him, he does what he can to thwart her attempts. When she tries to ruin him by burning down the improvements he has made, he decides to marry her himself, so that he can have the inheritance to rebuild. Of course, given the sexual tension, it isn't just the money he's after - plus he thinks she's already sexually experienced (but she's not).

At first he's revolted by his own need for her, and decides to leave her alone after their disastrous wedding night. She circumvents that by seducing him, after weeks of no contact. What comes between them is the usual - their inability to communicate outside the bedroom. He thinks she just wants him for Risen Glory, the only thing she feels has been constant in her life. Baron has learned over time not to count on anything or anyone, so he gives away things before they become to dear to him, and Kit realizes she is next on his give-away list.

One of them has to give - and it takes a major event to bring them back together after Cain does the inevitable, leaving both her and Risen Glory.

I like this narrator's voice, her Southern accents and her character voices. The story works for me too - 4 stars, maybe even 5 now that I've listened to it 4 or 5 times.

1 comment:

Cindy W said...

I forgot about that one! Nice Review.