First Lady

( 81 )

Overview

How does the most famous woman in the world hide in plain sight? The beautiful young widow of the President of the United States thought she was free of the White House, but circumstances have forced her back into the role of First Lady. Not for long, however, because she's made up her mind to escape — if only for a few days — so she can live the life of an ordinary person. All she needs is the perfect disguise . . . and she's just found it.

An entire nation is searching for ...

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Overview

How does the most famous woman in the world hide in plain sight? The beautiful young widow of the President of the United States thought she was free of the White House, but circumstances have forced her back into the role of First Lady. Not for long, however, because she's made up her mind to escape — if only for a few days — so she can live the life of an ordinary person. All she needs is the perfect disguise . . . and she's just found it.

An entire nation is searching for her, but the First Lady is in the last place anybody would think to look: in the company of a man, an infuriatingly secretive and quietly seductive stranger whose charm, good looks, and sensuous appeal are awakening the forgotten woman within the dignitary. And with two adorable little orphaned girls in need of a family along for the ride, they're heading out across the heartland chasing their own American Dream — on a wild journey of love, adventure, and glorious rebirth.

First Lady: A star-spangled, richly emotional story of self-discovery, celebrity, love, and family.

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Editorial Reviews

Contra Costa Times
The most satisfying romance I've read in quite a while.
Oakland Press
Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes a story that wraps around your heart and doesn't let go.
Oakland Press
...when Phillips wields the pen,you know you're in for a good time. The lady's a sorceress, I tell you.
Oakland Press
...when Phillips wields the pen,you know you're in for a good time. The lady's a sorceress, I tell you.
Library Journal
Take a widowed First Lady on the run, add a discredited journalist looking for a story, toss in a pair of intriguing orphaned sisters for good measure, and you have the unlikely ingredients for another of Phillips's brilliant romantic romps, deftly combining laughter and love with real women's issues and served up with a sophisticated flair. Creative plotting adds sparkle, and entertaining, well-drawn secondary characters round out the novel, but it is the growing, healing relationship between the protagonists and how they finally form a family that touches the heartstrings and makes this contemporary romance an unforgettable read. A past master at taking a startling but just believable premise and making it work, Phillips (Lady Be Good) has won several RITA awards and lives in the Chicago area. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380808076
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/8/2000
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 213,633
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has found fans all over the world with her warm and wonderful contemporary love stories that manage to touch both hearts and funny bones. She's the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America's prestigious Favorite Book of the Year and was also honored with their Lifetime Achievement Award. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is a wife, the mother of two grown sons, an avid hiker, and—unlike some of her characters—notoriously inept at any sport requiring a ball.

Biography

Susan Elizabeth Phillips believes if Jane Austen were writing today, novels like Pride and Prejudice would be sitting on the bookshelf alongside the love stories that she and her fellow romance novelists pen. "Oh, and one more thing," she said, wagging her finger at a Chicago Tribune reporter in 1999, "Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy should have kissed at the end of that story, and if I'd have written it, they would have -- and it would have been a good kiss, too."

Such sass is Phillips' calling card, and since her 1994 football romance It Had to Be You, she’s been stitching threads of humor into her romance novels.

"I'm not a particularly funny person in person. I can't tell jokes, but it just seems like it happened when I started to write," she told The Romance Reader in 1997. "It wasn't anything that was planned. I'm a very intuitive writer; I just sort of let the characters talk to me, and they started saying funny things, so I wrote them down."

A schoolteacher until her first son was born, Phillips began writing in the early 1980s with her best friend and neighbor. The two were both regular readers and decided to try their hand at a book of their own, plotting their story during nightly bike rides with their toddlers in tow. They got the name of a publisher at Dell who liked the book and published it under the pen name Justine Cole.

Her friend moved into a legal career, but Phillips continued writing and publishing, this time under her own name. She released what she calls her "big books," titles like Fancy Pants and Honey Moon featuring Hollywood starlets and jet-setting London socialites.

Her stories, she has said, moved outside of the mainstream after that. She gives her romantic characters emotional wounds and personal difficulties that often impede their inevitable happy endings. But without such obstacles, there would be no story.

"I've grown increasingly interested in writing about family dynamics and much less interested in sticking a psychopath with a gun in any of my books," she said in an interview with the web site iVillage. "Technically, I've simply learned how to capitalize on my own distinctive voice and how to be a better storyteller."

The healing process that the characters go through is what makes the novels work. "Creative plotting adds sparkle, and entertaining, well-drawn secondary characters round out the novel, but it is the growing, healing relationship between the protagonists and how they finally form a family that touches the heartstrings and makes this contemporary romance an unforgettable read," the Library Journal wrote in a review of Phillips' 2000 book First Lady.

The dialogue, she has said, is also important. The exchanges in romance novels are satisfying to women who love to communicate, she told USA Today. "Women really like to talk. That's one of our processes. We talk to gather information. Women love the connection that comes from conversation," she said. "My husband says we broadcast. He thinks through things before he talks, but he says women just kind of broadcast until they zero in on what they want to say."

Phillips has also disputed the notion that romance novels are nothing more than books about "throbbing thighs." They aren't about sex, she told the Chicago Tribune in 1992, but are instead complicated fictions about women taking charge of their lives and being the stories' heroes.

"The woman always wins the man," she said, "and he always gets tamed in the end."

Good To Know

Phillips wanted to publish her first novel under the pseudonym Chastity Savage, but her best friend and co-author nixed the idea.

Though two of her books -- It Had to Be You and This Heart of Mine -- have football plots, Phillips doesn't consider herself much of a sports fan. "In my mind, if you don't have to wear mascara to do it, it doesn't count as recreation," she told Book Page.

Her family helps her keep the details straight. Husband Bill was her technical adviser on describing Dallie Beaudine's golf game in Fancy Pants, and son Zach's interest in knives, guns, and dead insects surfaced in Teddy, the son of the novel's leading lady. He also wrote and recorded a companion CD to her title This Heart of Mine, which is available from her web site.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Cornelia Litchfield Case had an itchy nose. Otherwise, it was a very elegant nose. Perfectly shaped, discreet, polite. Her forehead was patrician, her cheekbones gracefully carved, but not so sharp as to be vulgar. The Mayflower-blue blood that rushed through her veins gave her a pedigree even finer than that of Jacqueline Kennedy, one of her most famous predecessors.A French twist contained her long, fair hair, which she would have cut off years ago if her father hadn't forbidden it. Later her husband had suggested—oh-so gently, because he was always gentle with her-that she leave it long. So there she was, an American aristocrat with a hairstyle she hated and an itchy nose that she couldn't scratch because hundreds of millions of people all over the world were watching her on their televisions.Burying a husband sure could take the fan out of your day.She shuddered and tried to swallow her hysteria as she crept another inch closer to falling apart. She forced herself to concentrate on the beauty of the October day and the way the sun gleamed on the rows of grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery, but the sky was too close, the sun too near. Even the ground felt as if it were pushing up to crush her.The men on either side of her moved closer. The new President of the United States gripped her arm. Her father clasped her elbow. Directly behind her, the grief of Terry Ackerman, her husband's closest friend and advisor, rolled over her in a great, dark wave. They were suffocating her, stealing the air she needed to breathe.She beat back a scream by curling her toes in her neat black leather pumps, bitingthe inside of her bottom lip, and mentally launched into the chorus of 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." The Elton John song reminded her that he'd written another song, one for a dead princess. Would he now write one for an assassinated President?No! Don't think about that! She'd think about her hair, her itchy nose. She'd think about the way she hadn't been able to swallow food since her secretary had broken the news that Dennis had been assassinated three blocks from the White House by a gun fanatic who believed his right to bear arms included the right to use the President of the United States for target practice. The assassin had been killed on the spot by a Washington, D.C., police officer, but that didn't change the fact that her husband of three years, the man she'd once loved so desperately, lay before her in a gleaming black casket.She broke her father's grip to reach up and touch the small enameled American flag she'd pinned to the lapel of her black suit. It was the pin Dennis had worn so frequently. She'd give it to Terry. She wished she couldturn around right now and hand it to him, perhaps ease his grief.She needed hope—something positive to cling tobut that was tough even for a determined optimist. And then she hit on it ...She was no longer the First Lady of the United States of America.A few hours later, that small bit of comfort was snatched from her by Lester Vandervort, the newest President of the United States, as he regarded her across Dennis Case's old desk in the Oval Office. The box of Milky Way miniatures her husband had kept in Teddy Roosevelt's humidor had disappeared, along with his collection of photographs. Vandervort had added no personal touches of his own, not even a photograph of his deceased wife, an oversight she knew his staff would soon correct.Vandervort was a thin man, ascetic in his appearance. He was fiercely intelligent, almost entirely humorless, and a confirmed workaholic. A sixty-four-year-old widower, he was now the world's most eligible bachelor. For the first time since the death of Edith Wilson eighteen months after Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, the United States had no First Lady.The air inside the Oval Office was climate-controlled, the three-story windows that rose behind the desk bulletproof, and she felt as if she were suffocating. As she stood by the fireplace, staring blindly at Rembrandt Peale's portrait of Washington, the new President's voice seemed far away. ". . . don't want to appear insensitive to your grief by broaching this now, but I have no choice. I won't be remarrying, and none of my female relatives is remotely capable of handling the job of First Lady. I want you to continue in that role."As she turned to him, her fingernails bit into her palms. "It's impossible. I can't do it." She wanted to scream at him that she was still wearing her funeral clothes, but excessive displays of emotion had been leached out of her long before she'd come to the White House.Her distinguished father rose from one of a pair of couches covered in cream damask and assumed his Prince Philip posture-hands clasped behind his back, weight toward his heels. "This has been a difficult day for you, Cornelia. You'll be seeing things more clearly tomorrow."Cornelia. Everyone who mattered in her life called her Nealy except her father. "I'm not going to change MY mind.""Of course you will," he countered. "This administration has to have a competent First Lady. The President and I have considered it from every angle, and both of us agree this is the ideal solution."She was an assertive woman, except when it came to her father, and she had to steel herself to challenge him. "Ideal for whom? Not for me."
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 81 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(32)

4 Star

(31)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 81 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 18, 2009

    One of my long-time favorites

    I recently re-bought this when I couldn't find my copy. It was as fun on re-read as I remembered.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2011

    Good, but not my favorite by SEP

    Cornelia Case wants nothing more than to escape her life in the public eye. After her husband, the president of the United States was assassinated Cornelia longs to experience the ordinary. She manages to disguise herself and elude the secret service men tasked with her safety. On her adventure she meets up with Matt Jorvich who finds himself the guardian to two children Lucy and Button. Lucy at 14 whose Mother recently died has been raising Button by herself. Cornelia finds herself on a journey with the Jorvich to find the girls' grandmother. Along the way Cornelia finds herself part of a family.

    First Lady was an enjoyable read. I thought the characters were endearing. The adventures they found themselves in were fun to listen to. First Lady isn't my favorite book by SEP. I can't really put my finger on why. I enjoyed the characters. Although I thought maybe towards the end that Cornelia and Matt were extremely stubborn in their resistance to their feelings for one another, Matt especially about having a family. If they would have just talked about things, misunderstandings could have been avoided. I know this review is short, but I just don't have much more to say about it. I enjoyed the story, but it wasn't my favorite by SEP. That about sums it up for me.

    *Interesting factoid:* Lucy makes an appearance in SEP's latest release Call Me Irresistible as Teddy Beaudine's fiancé.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2003

    Not a boring moment

    My husband's cousin has been telling me about this book for a few months but i never really got around to it. One day, at a bookstore i decided to give it a try although the sypnosis did not appeal to me. But once i opened this book i could not stop! It was filled with romance and was so funny it made me laugh out loud, i mean..REALLY LAUGH out loud ( there have been other books that have made me laugh inwardly but never out loud, just something that bubbled in deep inside but never really made it quite to the surface). The characters had a magical identity of their own. Good job!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2000

    Ranks Right Up There With 'Nobody's Baby But Mine'

    I truly loved this story! The characters seemed so real to me. This was a book that I couldn't put down. The chemistry between Nealy and Mat and the connection Nealy develops with the children in this story is so real. Susan Elizabeth Phillips knows people's real emotions and knows how to write about them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2000

    Moving Story

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips' characters are real people with real problems, poignantly portrayed warts and all. Perhaps in her books love always conquers all - but it's never an easy journey. She writes wonderfully and even poetically of life with all it's ups and downs. Her characters make mistakes, have bad things happen to them - but they triumph. Mat and Nealy are wonderful characters who in the end realize their own potential. Mabel has got to be the first winnebago in literature to be so wonderfully characterized. Even Button is a fully realized character and she hardly talks. There is almost no story that SEP cannot bring fully, vibrantly to life with lust and laughs.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2014

    I loved this audiobook. Anna Fields did a fabulous job reading

    I loved this audiobook. Anna Fields did a fabulous job reading it. The book is touching, playful, and humorous. There's just the right amount of sex, not going into every single detail. I look forward to more books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and read by Anna Fields.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    check it out!

    Just a fun book to read. Never know what will come up next. I didn't think it could end the way it did. Must read it all the way through!
    Maybe you know someone just like the them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2012

    Wonderful Book!

    I enjoyed this book so much. It was funny, romantic, loving and so much fun to read. Never read this author before this book but already bought the next one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2012

    Fantastic

    I jut read The Great Escape andcrwalised I had missed this title- the story of Lucy's parents. Loved it- our course it had the classic SEP style and a great heartfilled storyline. A not to miss story.

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Another great Phillips book

    Enjoyed this one as much as her others.

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  • Posted August 19, 2011

    Okay

    Great characters. Story started very intriguing with some unexpected plot twists. Got very predictable as the story developed.

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  • Posted May 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good read

    I really liked this. It was a little predictable and sentimental, but a great read anyway.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2009

    VERY GOOD

    HOLD YOU INTEREST AND VERY EAZY READING

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2009

    One of my favorites!

    Phillips chooses a unique twist in this book... Like always, a fast, easy, and entertaining read. This is on the top of my Phillips list.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2003

    I laughed, I cried

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well written and paced quite well. I ran the gamut of emotions with this one. One moment nearly in tears, the next laughing out loud. Though the characters were not what could be considered 'everyday people' they were still easy to relate to. Witty and full of emotion. This is the first book I've read by this author and I can't wait to read others. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2001

    Action Comedy Romance at its best

    Funny, sexy and heartwarming. Lots of action. This book is vastly underrated. It is a delicious read of substance to the very last drop. The sexy masculine hero with his share of human hangups eventually discovers a heart under a gruff exterior for a 'first lady' he can't deny, nor the sexual tension that sizzles between them. That he eventually learns to love (and which he fights against all the way) and accept two abandoned children trusted to his care after their mother died and 'left' them to him makes for a further marvelous read. The heroine is a winner. Having led a life of the wealthy all her life she faces challenges that most of us take for granted as being a part of everyday life when she decides to escape from her oppressing responsilities as a First Lady who's being forced to continue as a standin even after her president-husband has died. Much to his disgust our loner-by-nature hero finds himself unavoidably saddled with a surly teen and a baby (who falls in love with him to his groaning chagrin) and a runaway First Lady (although she hides her true identity) who hitches a ride with the trio in their R.V., gives many hilarious moments - not to mention the steamy ones with the lady hitcher- throughout the story, as they make their way across country. Especially as the FBI and the entire country is pulling out all stops to find their missing First Lady. Toward the end when the hero has tough and heartrending choices to make lends a poignancy you won't soon forget. The ending is fabulous. Not a mediocre page in this entire book. This is one of my favorites. I've read it three times. I loved it. My other favorite is S.L Phillips' Lady Be Good - I laughed until I cried. But all of Phillips' books are classic reads. Also the ones by authors R. Gibson and J. Crusie that offer action/suspense,steaming romance, and great laughs...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2001

    Wonderful

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a wonderful writer. THis book was the first of hers I've read and I've been going back ever since. I can't wait to read the books that I haven't fotten to. I've only read four but that's enough for me to know that she is a great writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2000

    Overall it was pretty good.

    This book, though not her best, was very sweet. It's not my favorite from this author, though the real value of the story is in the comedy and the emotion. The way Phillips describes emotion in jesters, looks, and words from the characters makes up for the lack of reality to the situation. Ms. Phillips is a master of making one laugh and then moments later cry. I do not recommend as a first read for this author, but a definite read if you are already a fan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2000

    Extraordinary!

    This is the first of her books I have read and I enjoyed it tremendously. It's nice to find modern people in a truly happy romantic setting. Have since gone on to try to locate her other books and will look forward to enjoying them too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2000

    Another fun novel by susan elizabeth Phillips

    This was a delightful book as they always are. I don't think it was her finest, yet definitely worth the read. The best part of her books are that she develops both main characters and they become so likeable.

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