Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Title: Breathing Room
Publication Date: 2003 (2002)
Number of Pages: 372 (Avon paperback)
Part of a Series: No
- Americans in Tuscany
- Film actors and actresses
- Men/women relations
- Women psychologists
Geographical Setting/Time Period: Tuscany, Italy/2002
- Dr. Isabel Favor: a capable yet vulnerable self-help personality.
- Lorenzo “Ren” Gage: a devilishly dashing film actor.
Plot Summary: When Isabel loses her money, career, and fiancé, she leaves New York for Italy to start rebuilding her life. Her plans are upset by a chance encounter with “Dante,” a handsome stranger who turns out to be Hollywood villain Ren Gage—and the owner of the Tuscan farmhouse she’s renting. Further complications arise when Ren’s ex-wife Tracy arrives at his villa with her four children. Isabel and Ren’s relationship sizzles as they conquer their vulnerabilities and their differences in order to come together.
Appeal: Phillips’ fast-paced style is humorous, descriptive, and steamy, with plenty of quick-witted, engaging dialogue. Characters are familiar yet nuanced, becoming well-developed as the story progresses. The story is character-centered, incorporating multiple points of view. Brief, lavish descriptions of the Tuscan setting provide a romantic frame. Characterization and frame may be the key points of this novel’s appeal.
Brief quote: “You’re one uptight chick, Dr. Favor. Is that a building block of your philosophy? ‘Thou shalt be the most uptight chick on the planet’?”
“I’m principled, not uptight.” Just saying it made her feel stuffy, and she wasn’t stuffy, not really, not in her heart anyway. (p. 86)
Prizes or Awards: None known
Similar Works: Summer in Tuscany, Elizabeth Adler (fast-paced, steamy, Tuscany)
Strange Bedpersons, Jennifer Crusie (humorous, engaging romance)
Reviewer’s Name: Sara Vaughan