Series: Chicago Stars

Retro Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted March 7, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 13 Comments

Retro Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsReviewer: Holly
Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 13th 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 400
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Goodreads
five-stars

A Desperate Young Mother
Rachel Stone's bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car's that's spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she's come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she'll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .
A man With No Heart
Gabe Bonner wants to be left alone, especially by the beautiful outcast who's invaded his property. She has a ton of attitude, a talent for trouble, and a child who brings back bad memories. Yet Rachel's feisty spirit might just be heaven-sent to save a tough, stubborn man.
Dare To Dream
Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who's forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

This review was originally posted on October 8, 2009.

I meant to have this written as part of our Susan Elizabeth Phillips Author Spotlight last month, but I didn’t get around to writing it. Dream a Little Dream is one of my favorite SEP novels. It’s hands down my favorite of the Chicago Stars/Bonner Brothers series.

Gabe Bonner lost his wife and son in a tragic car accident and for the past two years he’s been in a state of deep mourning. He’s been coasting through life, numb and emotionless, waiting for the day when it all will end. But Rachel Stone changes all that the day she shows up at his drive-in; dirty, hungry and desperate to save herself and her son Edward. He should be repulsed by her, but he isn’t. He’s drawn to her in a way he hates. She cracks the icy ball that’s surrounding his heart.

Rachel Stone has returned to the last place on Earth she ever wanted to see again, Salvation, North Carolina. 5 years ago she and her husband G. Dwayne Snopes were the hope and pride of Salvation, a televangelist couple to rival even the most sincere and promising of them. But all that ended the night G. Dwayne disappeared with the life savings of the people of Salvation, bringing shame and scandal to the once prosperous town. Now she’s back, determined to find the stash Dwayne left behind, desperate to save the future of her much beloved son.

At times this novel is hard to read, especially in the beginning when Rachel and Gabe meet. They’re both desperate and broken, though for different reasons and with different ways of dealing with their pain. One of the most emotional things I’ve ever read is when Rachel begs Gabe for a job. The first few chapters of this book are hard to get through, but they showcase perfectly just how far both characters have fallen.

Eventually Rachel and Gabe form a tight bond, though both are reluctant to acknowledge it. The town shuns Rachel, and her house and car are vandalized. Gabe takes on the role of protector, though even he can’t understand why. Despite their change in feelings for one another, they both know they have no future together. Especially since Gabe can’t stand Edward, Rachel’s son.

I loved the strength Rachel showed. It wasn’t easy for her to continue on each day, especially in the beginning, but she did what needed to be done. I would have to say she’s probably one of my favorite SEP heroines. She’s practical and tough, with a smart mouth and a strong will to survive. What’s not to love?

My heart ached for Gabe. I wanted to wrap him in cotton and protect him from the world. I loved that Rachel was the only one who saw him for what he was, and was willing to push him in the direction he needed to go.

Even though this is a darker novel, there are moments of unexpected tenderness and humor. I loved that even though the town hated Rachel, none of them took it out on her son. Everyone, from the townsfolk to the Bonner brothers, was kind to Edward. Well, except for Gabe.

The secondary romance between Ethan Bonner and Kristy Brown, his church secretary, was sweet. It provided relief from the darker tone of the rest of the novel.

Dream a Little Dream is heartwrenching and emotionally compelling. I couldn’t put it down, even when I could barely see the pages through my tears.

5 out of 5

five-stars

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Review: This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted September 26, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsReviewer: Holly
This Heart of Mine (Chicago Stars, #5) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Series: Chicago Stars #5
Also in this series: Natural Born Charmer, It Had to Be You, Dream a Little Dream
Published by Avon
Publication Date: February 5th 2002
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 432
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four-half-stars

This Heart of Mine..
Molly Somerville knows she has a reputation for trouble. She did give away her fifteen-million-dollar inheritance, but, hey, nobody's perfect. Still, if anyone has an almost perfect life, it's Molly. While her Daphne the Bunny children's books could be selling better, she loves her cramped loft, her French poodle, and her career creating the fictional animals who live in Nightingale Woods. She even loves her sister, Phoebe.
True, it was a little tough growing up in her shadow. Phoebe is beautiful, blissfully married, and the owner of the most successful professional football team in America. But who other than your sister knows you're about to do something drastic every time you change your hair? Yes, Molly's happy about almost everything ... except her long-term crush on the daredevil quarterback for the Chicago Stars, that awful, gorgeous Kevin Tucker, a man who can't even remember her name!
One night Molly's penchant for running into trouble runs right into Kevin himself, turning her world upside down. Heartbreak follows, and just when she's certain things can't get worse, Kevin forces his way back into her life. If only the overpaid, Ferrari-driving, poodle-hating jock was as shallow as she wants him to be, she could get on with her almost perfect life. But Kevin's hidden depths and iron will propel Molly out of her comfortable existence into an unforgettable summer at a place called Wind Lake. Surrounded by paintbox cottages and a charming old bed-and-breakfast, she and Kevin battle their attraction while trying to cope with an aging sexpot actress, a cranky world-famous artist, and a pair of teenage newlyweds.
Their careers and lives are in crisis ... yet they can't seem to stay away from each other. Before the summer is over, will they be able to learn one of life's most important lessons? Sometimes falling in love hurts, sometimes it makes you mad as hell, and sometimes if you're very lucky it can heal in the most special and unexpected way.

I really wish SEP didn’t humiliate her heroines quite so much. No matter how many times I re-read This Heart of Mine it never gets easier watching Molly hurt herself.

Molly’s actions in the beginning of the book were really hard to take. If the roles were reversed and a man acted as she did, we know what it would be called. Unlike other books where the heroine purposely takes advantage of the hero (generally to steal his sperm so she can have the baby she always wanted), I softened to Molly as the story went on. Probably because she suffered quite a bit for her actions. I’m not excusing what she did, nor condoning it, but I felt like she was truly remorseful and her suffering as the novel went on served to soften her actions just enough to allow me to forgive her.

Where SEP excels, in my opinion, is writing nuanced characters. There are no two-dimensional flops for SEP. Kevin, Molly and all the rest are fully three-dimensional, with struggles and emotions not readily apparent at first glance.

SEP has always pulled me into her stories and this is no exception. I lived at camp with Molly and Kevin, suffered along with them during their trials and tribulations and got to know their friends and family through them. I can’t say I love every aspect of this novel, but I can say I was fully engaged while reading it. Even though I’ve read it many times before.

4.25 out of 5

This book is available from  . You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: It Had To Be You at TGTBTU

Posted July 22, 2008 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: It Had To Be You at TGTBTUReviewer: Holly
It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Series: Chicago Stars #1
Also in this series: Natural Born Charmer, This Heart of Mine (Chicago Stars, #5), Dream a Little Dream
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: May 14th 2013
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
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four-stars

The Windy City isn't quite ready for Phoebe Somerville—the outrageous, curvaceous New York knockout who has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team. And Phoebe is definitely not ready for the Stars' head coach, former gridiron legend Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. Calebow is everything Phoebe abhors. And the sexy new boss is everything Dan despises—a meddling bimbo who doesn't know a pigskin from a pitcher's mound.

So why is Dan drawn to the shameless sexpot like a heat-seeking missile? And why does the coach's good ol' boy charm leave cosmopolitan Phoebe feeling awkward, tongue-tied . . . and ready to fight?

The sexy, heartwarming, and hilarious "prequel" to This Heart of Mine—Susan Elizabeth Phillips's New York Times bestselling blockbuster—It Had To Be You is an enchanting story of two stubborn people who believe in playing for keeps.

I have a guest review for It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Book 1 in the Chicago Stars series, up at The Good, The Bad and The Unread.

Book CoverBook Cover

Check it out..

This is one of those novels that’s really hard to grade. I absolutely loved it while I was reading it, but once I finished I realized there were a lot of flaws with it. The hero is an ass, the heroine plays dumb and uses her looks to get ahead in the world and the secondary characters are all football players. Oh, wait, that’s actually a point in it’s favor. Mmm, football players. But I digress. The point is, though it’s flawed, it’s still a well written book that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

Read the rest here.

Curious about the two covers? Read what SEP had to say here.

This book is a re-issue from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-book format.

four-stars

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Review: Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted April 28, 2008 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth PhillipsReviewer: Rowena
Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Series: Chicago Stars #7
Also in this series: It Had to Be You, This Heart of Mine (Chicago Stars, #5), Dream a Little Dream
Published by Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: May 1st 2008
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 385
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

NO ONE CAN RESIST A NATURAL BORN CHARMERA gorgeous football player ...A Lonely Colorado highway ...A woman dressed in a beaver suit.Life's funny that way.

It wasn't every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard's larger-than-life world. He slammed on the brakes of his brand-new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her.

The beaver marched right past, her big, flat tail bouncing in the gravel, and her small, sharp nose stuck up in the air. Way up. The beaver looked highly pissed ...

She was definitely a girl beaver because her beaver head was missing, revealing sweaty, dark hair pulled into a scraggly ponytail. He'd been praying for a little distraction from his own depressing company, so he threw open the door and stepped out onto the shoulder of the Colorado road ...

Funny, sexy, and touching—Natural Born Charmer is the unforgettable love story of a golden boy who might be losing his luster and a spirited woman who's learned never to depend on anyone but herself.

Because the paperback comes out tomorrow, I thought I’d resurrect this review from Sanctuary’s Finest, this book is just as good the second time around as it was the first time around, I promise!

Man but I really enjoyed this book.

Lots of spoilers in my reviews (like you didn’t know that) so here’s your warning, didn’t read the book? Skip this and come back when you read the book…but this is your review (the non NBC readers) THIS BOOK IS REALLY GOOD, GET IT AND READ IT FOR SOME GREAT LAUGHS, A CUTE LOVE STORY AND FANTASTIC SECONDARY CHARACTERS, SEP REALLY SHINES WITH THIS BOOK…

Now, onto the spoiler ridden review for those of us who enjoyed the book…very much.

It was one of those books that I wasn’t expecting to like and ended up really liking anyway. The one where you don’t think it will hold a candle to the previous book and yet it stood well on it’s own without the added bonuses of old characters that you love and can’t get enough of.

This book did a great job dragging me in and keeping my attention until the book was done. Susan Elizabeth Phillips weaves a story that made me smile long after I put the book down. It’s one of those stories that had just the right amount of sarcastic wit, sparkling characters and that small town charm. SEP did an extraordinary job of Dean’s story. I was a bit bummed when I learned that though Annabelle and Heath played little parts in this book, they weren’t in a huge bulk of the story, there was only passing remarks on Phoebe and Kevin (LOVE HIM!) but none of that mattered because I met some wonderful new characters that I just loved to death.

This is the same kind of story, studly football star hero and not so great looking but has potential heroine, thrown together for a wild ride. Dean and Blue are no different from the other story but SEP does a great job of giving Dean and Blue their own twist on the same storyline, I didn’t mind it one bit. I really enjoyed SEP’s wit and her characters.

Dean was the perfect bonehead hero that had me laughing out loud more times than I can count. I loved his sarcastic sense of humor, his Godly looks and his indifference to everyone but Blue. I loved the wall he tried to form around himself concerning his parents. I loved it even more when he manned up where Riley was concerned, because though he didn’t want to, he knew that he had to because she was..family. The family he always wanted. For better or for worst, I just loved Dean through his thick headed stubborn self and I loved him even when he was a big time dick, he was just so effing great.

Blue on the other hand was just as fantastic as Dean, in her I don’t know how to dress myself, hide my feminine side and sharp wit. Her sassy mouth totally worked for her. I loved her personality, her no bullshit attitude and just everything about her….well except her sense of fashion. That needed a great deal of help and I cheered when she finally got it right. And can I just say that I LOVE the dress on the cover of the book? Is that not the cutest dress? I think so….but anyway, I enjoyed Blue’s character and I enjoyed the things she brought to the story, she was a fantastic heroine.

I loved the way Blue and Dean met and how taken with her drama that Dean was. I loved how Dean tells Blue that he’s gay and then later shows her how much…he’s not. That was a riot and Blue’s parting remarks to Dean at their wedding..had me crackin’ the hell up, if you want to read the remark, you’ll have to read the book (since I don’t have the book with me, hehe)

I fell right in love with April Roubillard and Jack Patriot, not to mention Nita Garrison and little Riley Patriot. I loved the journey to being a real family these guys had to go through in order to get it right and when they finally had what they were looking for, it was just great to see. I was glad that Dean came around and things worked out for them in the end. It was oodles of fun.

This was a great book, a great storyline and filled with great characters, a definite read!

four-stars

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