The Heartbreaker
by Carly Phillips, contemporary (2003)
Warner, $16.95, ISBN 0-446-51152-8

Not one to rock her formula, Carly Phillips maintains the status quo that is her formula for success: hardcover or softcover be damed, Carly Phillips will be a Harlequin Blaze author until the bitter end! This is good news for readers that can't get enough of neurotic heroines with sad daddy complexes, but readers hoping for a meaty read will be heartbroken, methinks. The Heartbreaker concludes Carly Phillips' Attack Of The Bad Brain Blazer trilogy that began with The Bachelor and followed by The Playboy.

While stripped of most of the stupidity that plagued the previous book in the series, The Heartbreaker still retains inept plots and sexually neurotic heroines that are trademarks of a typically annoying Harlequin Blaze novel. Sloane Carlisle's daddy complex kicks into full blown condition when she learns that she is not the biological daughter of her senator daddy. Meanwhile, people want to kill daddy too. (Daddy's most likely a Republican since this book has annoying We Are Family overtones all over the place.) Meanwhile, before she can get down to business at being a thoroughly irritating heroine, she decides she must have one night stand with a cute guy. Then she decides to go to some backward smalltown where she hopes to find her real daddy.

Meanwhile, this hunk is Chase Chandler. I find that name... well, let's just say that I will not name my kid Chase Chandler if I don't want him to come home crying every day because everyone else is laughing at his name in the playground. Anyway, Chase Chandler is a journalist and he's in town to interview the wife of Senator Carlisle to boost his profile. Senator Carlisle is Sloane's not-that-real-daddy. And Sloane is now going back to the very smalltown where Chase lives! Right into that evil matchmaking Chandler mother Raina! And Sloane's mommy asks Chase to keep an eye on Sloane if he wants that precious career booster!

What marvelous coincidences, don't you say? I hope these two learn that they are siblings and then kill themselves out of shame.

At the bright side, there is no stupid nonsense like underwear thieves and brides on the run. Unfortunately, Chase is a stock hero - that is, he is a committed bachelor blah blah blah. Sloane is a daddy's girl that lets her "feminine" instincts (hormones, maternal instincts, et cetera) override her common sense. But these two characters don't annoy me. It is hard for cardboard cutouts to show chemistry with each other, so this is one romance where it needs an extra boost of Mommy Dearest's Matchmaking Input to push it past the starting line. Carly Phillips, probably trying to go the romantic suspense route in her future books, inserts some suspense elements here, but it's a hatchet job as far as suspense goes. It also tries to be a Brava book, throwing in vanilla love scenes here and there and everywhere to pad the book.

At the end of the day, this book is like a bewildering amalgamation of an inept romantic suspense, a sales pitch for the Brava line, and an extended mediocre Harlequin Blaze series novel.

The Heartbreaker concludes Carly Phillips' bewilderingly successful trilogy that is built more on a castle of hype in the clouds of Kelly Ripa's Never Neverland rather than on substance or quality. Now that Ms Phillips has tasted success, maybe now she can get down to business and start inserting some decent plot and well-done character development in her book for once?

Rating: 62

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