Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Life is meant to be lived.”
Being the daughter of the former President of the United States isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Lucy Jorik has always done what was expected of her. Attended the right schools, took the right jobs, and is now set to marry the right man. Only, Lucy isn’t so sure this is the life she wants. When Lucy leaves her perfect man standing at the altar and jumps on the back of a not so perfect man’s motorcycle, Lucy begins her adventure of a lifetime. An adventure towards finding the real Lucy Jorik.
The Great Escape is the sequel to Ms. Phillip’s, Call Me Irresistible. These two books actually take place simultaneously. In Call Me Irresistible, we watched the town of Wynette, TX make Meg Koranda pay, pay, and pay some more for Lucy Jorik leaving Ted Beaudine at the altar. The Great Escape tells Lucy’s side of the story and what happened after she left Wynette,Ted and her old life. Lucy decides, on the day of her wedding, that she and Mr. Irresistible aren’t meant to be together, so without much more then a, “I’m outta here,” Lucy hops on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle and rides off into the great unknown with no idea to what she is doing or where she is going.
Panda, aka Patrick Slade, certainly didn’t expect to end up with a runaway bride when he showed up at what was heralded as the wedding of the century. So how do you care for a runaway bride who has no money, no clothing, and no immediate plans? By being as rude and condescending as you can. Panda takes Lucy across country with him, letting her experience the wilder side of life through a string of cheap motels, lousy convenience store food, and his nasty attitude. Though it’s not what Lucy is used to, it’s actually a very relaxing time for her. But all good times must come to end. When Panda drops Lucy off at the Memphis Airport with the truth of who he is and the advice to, “Go home,” Lucy realizes that once again she has been out maneuvered by her parents and sets out to extract revenge on all those who lied to her.
Panda thinks this is the last time he will be seeing Lucy but he soon learns otherwise. Because Lucy Jorick is mad. And when Lucy gets mad…Lucy gets even.
Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s books have always been a favorite of mine. Her over the top heroes and heroines and crazy storylines guarantee a wild laughter filled ride. Only she could pair together a cosmopolitan bimbo and a chauvinist football coach, an insane British actress and an alcoholic golf pro, a flighty irresponsible trust fund baby and a rigid, closed off man; and make it work. From her testosterone infused Chicago series to the crazy, insane residents of her Wynette, TX series; I have been a huge fan of them all. After reading Call Me Irresistible, I was very much looking forward to Lucy’s book and hearing her side of the story. Why she left Ted and why she let Meg take the blame for her actions. I wish I could say it was what I was expecting and more, but it wasn’t. Both Lucy and Panda disappointed me. Lucy more so. Lucy’s entire story is based on the premise that being a former President’s daughter took too much from her. She couldn’t be herself and do what she wanted with her life. But previous books didn’t support that. The independent, street smart Lucy of the past (First Lady) morphs into a spoiled, whiny, and stupid adult Lucy of the present who decides that the only way to find herself is to commandeer (steal) Panda’s beach house, redecorate it, and transform herself into an 18 year old. A gum popping, fake tattoo wearing, skanky looking,18 year old. Because we all know that will teach her parents and friends to treat her like an adult rather than a chess piece to maneuver around at will. She also makes a reverse bucket list in order to further support her bid for independence that smacks of immaturity. Like making prank phone calls. She basically has a midlife crisis, at the age of 31, that transforms her into a wanna be juvenile delinquent. Her constant whining about how hard it was growing up in the White House was irritating. She complains of having to care for her younger siblings, never being able to get drunk and party wild like her friends. Oh, the horror. I was disappointed to not see any real growth in Lucy’s character. Even at the very end, she runs to the very place and people she has been rebelling against the whole book and pulls a juvenile stunt to force Panda ride to her rescue once, again.
Panda isn’t great but I liked him more then Lucy. Some of the props used to make Panda look like a complete jerk in the beginning went above and beyond offensive. I questioned Lucy’s judgment more than once as to why she stayed with him. Between the rudeness, sexual comments, and those god awful stickers, I couldn’t really see the appeal. Of course, after Panda’s real identity is unmasked and you get his back story, his behavior is better explained. I felt sorry for what he had been through but it still didn’t endear him much to me. His character showed more growth than Lucy’s but not enough to make him a favorite of mine.
The romance between Panda and Lucy was lacking for a romantic contemporary. There was no believable chemistry. No emotional bonding or that one moment when the hero or heroine realizes that this person is the one for them. They used each other for sexual release then went back to fighting. I was never completely convinced they even liked each other.
What saved this story for me was the secondary storylines and characters. Toby, a sweet 12 year old, is adorable as he struggles to find a place for himself after his parents die and he is left with only his aunt to raise him. We see a lot of teenage Lucy in him. His aunt, Bree, is who I wanted Lucy to become. Smart, self reliant, and relentless; she struggles with her own past and issues as she tries to find a way to support Toby and herself. Her growth and subsequent romance was emotional, heartfelt, and best of all…believable. Temple and Max were a surprise addition but one I thoroughly enjoyed. Each character we meet tries, inadvertently, to teach Lucy to see that her life and her choices are just that, hers, and only she is responsible for her happiness. Unfortunately, it’s not a lesson Lucy learns well. Lucy does however learn the value of friendship, compromise, and being yourself though it’s gradual and not readily apparent.
One major point of the story that bothered me and also bothered me in Call Me Irresistible is that Lucy just ignores the mess she left in Wynette, TX. She only speaks to Meg once and never to Ted. She never really addresses the whys of what happened with those involved. Or if she does, it’s off scene. For all intents and purposes she disappears and leaves everyone holding the bag. I would have loved a heart to heart scene between Lucy and Ted. I don’t see how either of them could go from one relationship to another without at least speaking to each other.
The ending is predictable as Panda and and Lucy resolve their internal and external issues. I did enjoy the epilogue at the end which occurs a few years later and we get to see where everyone in this story has been up too.
While Ms. Phillips will always remain an author whose stories I have enjoyed in the past and present, I honestly feel that The Great Escape was not the best of her abilities.
Overall Rating: C-