I'm pretty sure I've read most, if not all, of Susan Elizabeth Phillips' novels. She's one of my favorite romance authors, so even though her latest book, The Great Escape (2012), did not get as good reviews as some of her previous novels, I couldn't resist picking it up when I saw it in the library. And I have to agree with a lot of the reviews: I don't think this was Phillips' best novel, but I didn't hate it.
Lucy was a 14-year-old juvenile delinquent desperately trying to keep herself and her baby sister out of foster care in one of Phillips' earlier novels. That novel ended with the First Lady of the United States (I think she was widowed) and the journalist Mat Jorik marrying and adopting Lucy and her sister. And they lived happily ever after...until Lucy grew up, met the perfect man, and ran away from him on her wedding day.
Trying to avoid the crush of the press and her disappointed groom and family, Lucy runs away to try to give herself some time and space to sort out what she'd done. A man named Panda (nickname) picks her up on a motorcycle and they take off in a slightly more grown-up version of "Chasing Liberty" with Mandy Moore. Panda tries to scare her back to her family, but Lucy really doesn't want to go back. So the story continues.
Again, I didn't hate this book, but it didn't work as well as Phillips' other novels, especially my favorites of hers. Lucy didn't seem to have many problems or much growth. Lucy's issue was that she'd tried really hard to be a perfect child once she was adopted, and then she found herself a too-perfect guy. Panda's problem wasn't clear until the end of the book. They spent most of the book bickering, they barely got to know each other, and they spent very little time together. It wasn't very romantic. And Lucy showing up at Panda's lake house was just creepy and Fatal Attraction-esque. I did kind of like the secondary story of Bree and Mike, though. It's always satisfying to read about people getting their lives together.
This book hasn't turned me off of Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In fact, I'm looking forward to her next book because I'm expecting it to be better than this one. I do agree with some other reviews I read on Amazon, though, and I think it would help for Phillips to start out with a new cast of characters--something completely different that would give her more options in her storytelling.