Saturday, May 05, 2007

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

TYPE:Straight Romance
SERIES:Latest installment (#7) in the Chicago Stars series.

REASON FOR READING: I have loved this series, especially the last book, Match Me If You Can.

Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard is the luckiest man in the world. But life in the glory lane has started to pale, and Dean has set off on a trip to figure out what's gone wrong. When he hits a lonely stretch of Colorado highway, he spies something that will shake up his gilded life in ways he can't imagine. A young woman . . . dressed in a beaver suit.

Blue Bailey is on a mission. As for the beaver suit she's wearing . . . Is it her fault that life keeps throwing her curve balls? Witness the expensive black sports car pulling up next to her on the highway and the Greek god stepping out of it.

They're soon heading for his summer home, where their already complicated lives and inconvenient attraction to each other will become entangled with a charismatic but aging rock star; a beautiful, fifty-two-year-old woman trying to make peace with her rock and roll past; an eleven-year-old who desperately needs a family; and a bitter old woman who hates them all.

Natural Born Charmer . . . for anyone who's ever thought about leaving their old life in the dust.

I'm not into slapstick or silly stupid humor. That's why when I read the opening scene I felt a momentary urge to hurl this book (OK, it was a library book, so I wouldn't actually hurl it). Blue Bailey is walking down the road in a beaver costume when Dean Robillard drives by and stops to help her. Reminded me of one of those comedy skits from the old Carol Burnett Show. Turns out this book was not as light as I first thought. It is a romantic comedy but with an underlying edge of dark.

Dean and Blue both have serious abandonment and trust issues. And for good reasons. Dean is a sports superstar as the quarterback of the Chicago Stars. His father was a huge rock star (think Bruce Springsteen or someone like him) who didn't know how to be a father and pretty much ignored him. His mother was a drugged out groupie who didn't know how to be a mother but gives him up to be raised by someone who is responsible and grows to love him. He is still seriously angry at both of his parents. His mother has gone straight and is trying to get back into his life but he wants nothing to do with her. Blue's mother was an activist who is out to save the world one cause at a time but really should not have been a mother because she sucked at it. Blue took second place in her mother's life while she was passed from foster home to foster home. Recalling those memories made some heartwrenching scenes. She eventually learned not to become attached to anyone because she would eventually lose them.

Phillips' signature of great dialog and sexy banter was in full swing here. I loved how good Dean and Blue were together and how they had to work through their issues and grow as people before their happy ending is possible. As usual her characters are very well drawn and unique. This is a story about families and forgiveness and trust as well as a great love story. However, I thought Dean should have groveled a bit more at the end when he ... well, I won't spoil it. I liked Match Me If You Can a little more than NBC but it was still very enjoyable.



Kristie (J) said...

I haven't been able to bring myself to read SEP after that one where she is in - I don't know - somewhere in Europe in wine country - forget the title (thankfully since the book was a real wallbanger for me) I hadn't like the two before that either so I wrote her off my author list. And I know it's awful - but once I read a real wallbanger I just can't go back to that author anymore. The same thing happened with Suzanne Brockman. She wrote a book I hated and I haven't been tempted to read anything she wrote since.
So even though SEP is getting good reviews - I don't think I'll be able to read her again *sad sigh*

Rosie said...

Renee, the whole beaver suit episode was one of my favorite things about this book. That SEP sure can write dialogue, can't she?

Kristie, the Europe book you are referring to is my least fave SEP. It just didn't have the same zip that her others do.

ReneeW said...

Kristie: That book was Breathing Room from 2002 and it wasn't her best. Don't you hate when a single book puts you off an author entirely. I think I'm at that point with Mary Balogh. Her last one was just blah and I have no interest in anything more from her. MMIYC and NBC were both way better than BR, just in case you feel like try SEP one more time :)

Rosie: I love her dialog. Funny but the beaver scene is my least favorite part of the book. But I liked everything after that.

Rowena said...


The beaver suit and just Dean and Blue's story was fantastic! Funny, witty and adorable. I really enjoyed this book!!!

ReneeW said...

Rowena: Yes, Dean and Blue were great characters. I need this for my keepers when it comes out in PB.

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