THE GREAT ESCAPE – Susan Elizabeth Phillips
William Morrow (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0062106186
April 2013
Contemporary Romance

Waynette, Texas and Great Lakes Island – Present Day

Lucy Jorik has made it her mission in life NOT to embarrass her parents, especially her very famous mother.  But when it comes time to say “I do” to the perfect man, Lucy gets cold feet and flees the church.  Dressed only in a choir robe and stilettos with no money, Lucy accepts a ride from a disreputable biker.  She just needs to get away long enough to figure out what happened and why she suddenly felt the need to bolt.

Panda (aka Patrick Slade), plans to drop the crazy runaway bride at the nearest phone, but when she refuses to be dumped he has no choice but to keep her with him until she changes her mind.  He makes himself as unpleasant as possible to deter Lucy and make her beg to be taken home.  Unfortunately, Lucy has no plans to go home anytime soon.

As they travel together, and end up at Panda's beach house on Great Lakes Island, Lucy hopes to figure out what to do with her life. She also wants to know what the seemingly uncouth biker is really all about, because the more time she spends with Panda, the more she is convinced there is more to him than meets the eye.  After years of being a “good girl” Lucy decides it's time to try living free just for a little while, and the powerful attraction she feels for Panda makes him the perfect partner for a brief walk on the wild side.

Let me start off by saying I absolutely love Susan Elizabeth Phillips's work.  That being said, while THE GREAT ESCAPE had the same great dialogue and characterization her work is known for, I had a few problems with it.  When we initially meet Panda I thought he was a total creep.  That's okay; I was supposed to think that.  What wasn't okay is that even before we know, or Lucy knows, who he is under the tee-shirts with nasty slogans, and the bumper sticker that reads “gas, ass or grass, no one rides for free” Lucy is looking for an excuse to sleep with him.  Granted she wanted to do “all the things she missed as a teenager” but she isn't a teenager, she's a thirty-one year-old woman who should know better.  And it wasn't just her attraction to who appeared to be a really icky guy; it was her total irresponsibility to actually have gotten on the motor cycle of this nasty stranger in the first place that I had a really hard time with.  Lucy is supposed to be smart; she showed very little intelligence or common sense throughout the book.  I loved her as the mouthy teenager in FIRST LADY, not so much in THE GREAT ESCAPE.

Panda—or Patrick as I prefer because a guy named Panda just doesn't work for me, biker name or not—was so totally offensive to begin with that once the layers were peeled away and we got to know the real man, I had a hard time letting go of my initial ick factor.

Now, since I didn't care for either the heroine or hero in this novel you might think I would not recommend it.  Lucky for Lucy and Patrick they had some awesome supporting characters.  I loved Toby, the twelve year old neighbor on Great Lakes Island.  He was smart and resourceful and an all round enjoyable character.  I also loved the secondary romance between Bree and Mike, also neighbors on the island, and felt Bree deserves a book all her own.  Their romance, in my opinion, was better written and more believable than that of the main characters. The pace of the book is quick, the dialogue excellent, and the narrative outstanding; it was the premise and actions of the main characters that will keep this from being on my favorite reads list.

Fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips will probably enjoy this book, but it likely won't make their favorite list, either.  Readers new to SEP should probably start with almost any of her previous novels, and then give THE GREAT ESCAPE a try.

Terrie Figueroa