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book cover Limecello’s review of Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Fiction re-released by Avon on 30 Dec 08

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of my favorite authors. Favorite. Glitter Baby is one of the few novels that Ms. Phillips wrote that I hadn’t yet read due to availability, so I’m so glad this one was reprinted. Glitter Baby was first published in 1987 [Ed.: Check out the totally tubular shoulder-pad action on the original cover by mousing over this one], and this re-print has some revisions. I haven’t read a novel by Ms. Phillips in a while, so it was nice to come back to a novel that had the tone and style of her earlier works. I really enjoyed Glitter Baby – the characters are likable and well written, and the Hollywood aspect is a great tie to her new release What I Did For Love. (Which I need to get my hands on!)

“The Glitter Baby” is the persona created for the public facet ofย Fleur Savagar’s life. She is also the first character we meet in the novel, and the opening is quite effective. I really liked the introduction, but immediately after the story moved to tell of Fleur’s mother — Belinda Britton. I really didn’t like Belinda, and for more than the obvious reasons. She’s a horrible person, a parasite, and quite likely a sociopath. At least, that’s what I thought of Belinda. But perhaps being a sociopath would make it better, because Belinda was so one dimensional. Perhaps I don’t sympathize with her enough, but I never felt that Belinda truly loved Fleur. She only “loved” her daughter because Fleur was a tie to Errol Flynn — Fleur’s father.

This is getting confusing. I felt that the reader is actually given much more of Belinda’s history than Fleur’s in comparison. (In a way I felt that Fleur was slightly short changed.) Belinda is obsessed with Hollywood. She wants to be a star, but while beautiful, has no personality. Belinda also views actors as being superhuman. They can do what they want, and are better and more important than “regular people.” It’s almost creepy the way Belinda is willing to be degraded to cater to the whims of “Hollywood royalty.” Belinda is living with Errol Flynn, but ends up marrying Alexi Savagar when Belinda discovers she is pregnant after Flynn drops her.ย  I got the impression that Alexi loved Belinda, at first, but that Alexi is a psychopath. I had hoped he would be more emotive, but alas, no. Fleur grows up away from home, because while Flynn and Savagar were friends, they were also rivals, and Alexi isn’t willing to raise someone else’s bastard.

The reader truly meets Fleur when she is sixteen, and Fleur is quite the sympathetic character. She’s desperate for love and acceptance, and has been manipulated by everyone who should have her best interest at heart. In a way, I was much more interested with Fleur’s past than with her as a person at that point. Fleur comes into herself throughout the novel, and experiences tragedy and growth in some of the most emotionally damaging ways. While Fleur’s character tugs on your heart strings, I admit that at times I got fed up. Aside from getting herself into some predictable situations, Fleur often was too naive — she needed a reality check.

Jake Koranda is a terrific hero, and in my opinion possibly one of the most approachable ones Ms. Phillips has written. He’s flawed, but in a good way. Although an award winning author and A-list author, Jake seems the most “normal.” I also liked that he never went out of his way to hurt Fleur -and he knew he wanted to pursue her early on. Jake is complex. He’s temperamental, bitter, and has a major chip on his shoulder. Yet he’s a good guy – and really cares for people. He’s smart, and had a difficult life. Jake is scarred by his childhood, his experience with marriage, and his stint in Vietnam. He’s lived a lifetime before he even hit 30. Jake is also gruff, abrupt, and sometimes a jerk. In short, he’s human. But one of the better guys.

The people and personalities truly are what make the book – the secondary stories and characters are a joy to read. Fleur’s half-brother Michel, and Fleur’s roommate/friend Kissy Sue Christie are unique in the best way possible. It has been a long time since I enjoyed a “supporting cast” as much. I also have to say – at the time where Fleur takes her life back into her hands, she becomes a great heroine. It’s really sweet how she’s her own woman, but still that shy awkward girl with Jake. And I love how he insists on intruding in her life and being there for her.

The resolution — as in what brought Fleur and Jake together — was terrific, and I’d love read or see a cameo appearance by any of these characters. I recommend this book to anyone who loves Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ writing (and who doesn’t?) as well as readers of contemporary romance, or simply anyone looking for a great new read.

LimecelloGrade: A-


Welcome to the world of the Glitter Baby

Fleur Savagar is the most beautiful woman in the world . . . to everyone but herself. With her oversized hands and paddle-boat feet, her streaky blond hair and funny green eyes, she lives a life filled with secrets that began before she was born. That was when her bewitching mother left home to find James Dean and met Errol Flynn instead. Now Fleur has to grow up quickly, and life won’t make that easy.

Jake Koranda is both New York’s most brilliant playwright and Hollywood’s hottest actor. Difficult, talented, and tormented, he has no patience for international glamour girls, not even ones with beautiful bodies and smart-aleck mouths. But there’s more to the Glitter Baby than shine, and Fleur’s tougher than Jake expects. Even with the odds stacked against her, she’s fiercely determined to discover the woman she’s destined to be.

An ugly duckling who can’t believe she’s turned into a swan . . . A tough-guy movie star with a haunted past . . . In a land of broken dreams, can two unlikely lovers trust their hearts?

Read an excerpt here.