For What It's Worth

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review: What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Guest review by Tiger from All Consuming Books

What I Did for Love

What I Did for Love
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Avon, 2009

Georgie York is in desperate emotional straits and the paparazzi are circling, waiting for her to fall
to pieces. She's still America's darling, due to her long-running role in the beloved sitcom Skip and
Scooter, but the show's been off the air for years and Georgie's current life isn't anything worthy of a
laugh track. Her action-star husband left her for a prettier actress, and she hasn't recovered from the
betrayal. She has plenty of money, but her post-sitcom career is littered with cinematic flops. Georgie
is lonely, discouraged, and can't find her niche in life, so it'll take a major shake-up to bring back her
lost joy.
Bram Shephard knows Georgie from way back. While she spent eight years playing the imaginative,
happy-go-lucky orphan Scooter Brown, Bram played her counterpart and eventual love interest, Skip
Scofield. Skip was a well-bred, loyal young aristocrat who always had to bail Scooter out of scrapes
when her zany antics went awry. But while Georgie is a good deal like her character, Bram is nothing
like Skip—when he was on the show, he made life unbearable for everyone from production assistants
to fellow actors. From age 17 to 25, he gave excellent but grudging performances on the show and
spent the rest of his time drinking, partying, and breaking things. Now he's in his early thirties, and has
utterly sabotaged his career. It'll be hard for him to change the public's decidedly unfavorable opinion
of him.
When the two old enemies meet up in Vegas, they exchange scowls and harsh words. Little do
they know, they're about to get accidentally married when someone spikes their drinks (it's a plot
convenience you just have to accept, since it's illegal to perform a marriage ceremony for people
who are under the influence). But once Georgie and Bram find themselves married, they realize that
continuing the charade could be exactly what they both need. Georgie will look like she's thriving
and totally over her past heartaches, and Bram will gain respectability and credibility just by being
associated with her. They strike a bargain: they'll spend one year pretending to be a happily married
couple, and move on amiably...if they don't kill each other first.
Animosity between a future couple is always a fun thing to read, because the enemies-to-sweethearts
transition is different every time it's portrayed. Georgie has ample reason to despise Bram: his nasty
behavior caused their show to be canceled, and he broke her heart in worst possible way when she was
a teenager. It's more difficult to say why Bram holds a grudge against Georgie. He hated her in the
past because her dad interfered with the show and made sure she got most of the spotlight, but Georgie
doesn't come across like the stuck-up snob he accuses her of being. She wasn't even bratty, just naïve,
so if Bram's motivations,are actually examined, he seems less likable. Bram thinks Georgie's plastic,
and all she cares about is fame, and he's halfway right—Georgie does need a bigger purpose in life, and
enough time spent with Bram helps her realize it.
Of course, neither of them is as bad as the other one envisions them. Georgie's dad took great care
with her career, getting her the right jobs and investing her money wisely, but he has no heart for her
as a person. She's never had genuine love and support, though Bram thinks she's pampered. As for
Bram, he's mean and snarky with his words, but his actions are no longer villainous. It takes Georgie
forever to notice, but he's given up smoking, and the brown liquid he's always throwing back is iced
tea. He lies about everything, so most of the time when he say he doesn't care, he actually does, and he
fakes being lackadaisical so she won't know he's gotten serious about his work as an actor and (maybe)
Both of them can fake emotions and mug for the camera at the drop of a hat. There are plenty of
hilarious scenes where they're smiling for the paparazzi and punctuating their conversation with loud
laughter while quietly exchanging accusations and I-hate-yous. And of course, while they're playing
up their relationship for the cameras, they're actually developing one. But though the setup of the
story and the character interactions are great, there are a few down spots. Bram and Georgie fall
into a conversational rut where the argue about the same issues over and over. I like Bram's creative
description in lines like “He was dressed like the aimless second son of an exiled European monarch”
(pg 24), but he's described in nearly identical terms in other places. The love-realization takes a little
too long and gets resolved a little too quickly on Bram's part.
In this book, I've finally noticed a pattern in Susan Elizabeth Phillips' stories. A gorgeous guy and not-
quite-as-gorgeous girl are thrown together by unusual circumstances. The girl falls in love first, and
then she has to run away from the guy to save her pride and her heart. The guy realizes too late what
he's lost and makes a declaration, but she doesn't believe him, and he has to do something significant
to change her mind. At least one secondary couple will get together in the course of the novel, and
there's an epilogue where one or both of them will have made an important career change or career
advancement, and they usually have a baby girl. What I Did for Love does feel formulaic, but that's no
problem if you happen to like the formula. I do. And while this isn't SEP's best work, it still has some
charm and sparkle to it.

Rating: 3 of 4 stars.

Buy the book! What I Did for Love


  1. OMG I have noticed that formula in her books-so true with the last paragraph.

  2. Charm and spark works for me :) Should try the one I have by her first though

  3. Sounds cute and fun but I don't really like that formula. But maybe I'll give it a try. The rest of it sounds intriguing.