Dance Away with Me * Susan Elizabeth Phillips

When life throws her one setback too many, midwife and young widow Tess Hartsong takes off for Runaway Mountain. In this small town high in the Tennessee mountains, surrounded by nature, she hopes to outrun her heartbreak and find the solace she needs to heal.

But instead of peace and quiet, she encounters an enigmatic artist with a craving for solitude, a fairy-tale sprite with too many secrets, a helpless infant, a passel of curious teens, and a town suspicious of outsiders, especially one as headstrong as Tess. Just as headstrong is Ian North, a difficult, gifted man with a tortured soul—a man who makes Tess question everything.

In running away to this new life, Tess wonders— Has she lost herself . . . or has she found her future?

But then Elisabeth Kübler-Ross had never met Travis Hartsong with his floppy, auburn hair and laughing eyes, his beautiful hands and unending optimism. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross had never eaten pizza in bed with him or had him chase her around the house in a Chewbacca mask. And now Tess was living in a dilapidated cabin on an aptly named mountain in the middle of nowhere.

This is another book I tried to read and slightly tricked by the 4.0 rating on goodreads, I really, really tried. The premise sounds exciting – a woman who had lost her husband to pneumonia has ran away to the mountains to be alone in her grief and finds herself involved in her new neighbour’s lives. He’s an artist – well known for his Bansky like designs and his wife is a very cute and petite ex-model of a woman, now in her 7th month of pregnancy. The husband does not like what he calls “the dancing devrish”, the secluded widow who looks like an Italian woman of the woods. The wife does and “adopts” her quirky neighbour and enjoys her cooked meals.

The wife dies at childbirth due to complications which only rarely happen (the plot must go on!) and Tess, who was a midwife and was there for the premature birth, is now obliged by the grieving husband to look after the new born even though she’s not qualified and has known the family for not nearly a week.

So they end up living together in close quarters due to her heating not working and Tess now takes on the role of surrogate mother to her neighbour’s child. Also, she starts drooling over her now single husband as he is totally hunky and muscular and nothing like the man she’d burried. I was growing slowly sick at my stomach reading this story.

Let me re-iterate the plot: Neighbour’s wife dies and woman next door moves in, takes the role of nanny and surrogate mother and makes a pass at the husband. Wait. This sounds oddly familiar. Have you watched “A simple favour”?

OK, it’s forced, but it’s still a romance book so I expected this to be better going forwards.

The plot thickens as the people in the village are pretty sexually repressed and they don’t even sell condoms freely. Tess takes it upon herself to educate the local teen population about sex, sex pressure, anal sex (?) and safe sex – all in her new employer’s household as she’s taking care of his very fragile new-born. While he is being an artist again and refuses to interact with the child. To make it even more plot-convenient, the wife was carrying another man’s child and the husband was aware of it. So now the hunky man is “single” and definitely ready to mingle.

With his untidy flannel shirt and jeans, he looked as though he belonged in these mountains—as big and rugged as the landscape around them.

Tess gets even more annoying in her sexual education classes and believes she knows best, even more than the parents of said children. She sees the town as small-minded people and even if she knows that, she decides to stay. And wait – she wants to pretend to get married to the sulking man of the house, even though he treats her like crap, just so that people won’t talk. This book is plain ugly and I tried to finish it, but abandoned it at the half way mark.

“You’re quite the man of mystery. I’m curious. Do you have any personality—other than the dark and mysterious part?” He turned to her. “I have lots of personality.” “Aloof? Foreboding?”

Worst book I have read in a long time. The writing was terrible and felt forced. The dialog felt unnatural and didn’t flow. The characters lacked depth and were not realistic as people and the love story was not believable. Tess was selfish and self righteous and the only emotions she felt were anger and sadness.

1/5 Burn Pile

About the Author

When Susan Elizabeth Phillips does not write about people behaving like insane psychopaths and grief-stricked monsters, she does write the occasional good book. I can’t recommend the Chicago Series as I wasn’t a fan, but some of her earlier work was good.

Susan Elizabeth Philips Just Imagine – Historical Romance

Susan Elizabeth Phillips * Hot Shot

Susan Elizabeth Phillips * What I did for love

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