I discovered The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips during one of my thrift store trips, and I was immediately intrigued, not only by the gorgeous cover, but the story itself. I didn’t know it was part of a larger series until well into the story, and I have to say, Phillips did a great job in making this feel both like a stand alone novel as well as part of a series. She gives a brief history of the main characters and how they’re connected, that you don’t even necessarily have to read about Lucy’s background in previous books. But of course, I would recommend without a doubt that you check out the other books in Wynette, Texas series. You really won’t be disappointed.
The story itself flowed great for such a large piece. You tend to see romance anywhere from 200-300 pages, but The Great Escape is a good 100+ pages and never loses steam or it’s identity. You can attribute that to Phillips’ story telling ability. The characters have such a significant amount of time to develop and grow, and you see it throughout each stage of the book. New characters are introduced along the way, but it never feels like too much. We follow more than just Lucy, looking into the mindset of Panda, the bodyguard hired by her parents to keep an eye on Lucy throughout her wedding (and in the end, the fall out of the disastrous affair). We also get the treat of Toby, Bree and Mike, adding even more dimension to the story. And again, never does it feel like too much.
In the previous book of the Wynette, Texas series, Call Me Irresistible, we see snippets of Lucy and her adventure after being the runaway bride. Phillips did a great job in expanding that to give us such a rich story that I can easily say is one of my favourite reads in 2016.
My favourite aspect of this book, though, is the journey Lucy takes. She’s come so far from the 14-year-old she was when she found her family, when she struggled to protect her baby sister. She transformed herself from a lost girl into someone her parents could be proud of, but somewhere along the way, she lost a bit of herself. And she found those missing pieces by taking a step back, learning who she certainly wasn’t, and allowing herself to realize she doesn’t have to be perfect all the time.
Panda goes through a similar journey, trying to move forward with his PTSD, finding the help he knows he needs in order to be able to move on with his life. He transforms before our eyes from a bitter, solitary man to someone with a huge heart (though still our beloved grumpy Panda underneath).
It’s those transformations each of the characters take, those journeys that really make this book such a stellar read. It’s relatable to anyone who is at a crossroads, who needs that extra little push to take a chance. I definitely recommend taking a look at this book, and the other great novels Phillips has written.
My Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.82/5
Check out the rest in the Wynette, Texas series, as well as Susan Elizabeth Phillips other wonder works here.