Tag: 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
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
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
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
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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Review: Match Me if You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Posted December 22, 2011 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment


Rowena’s review of Match Me if You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Hero: Heath Champion
Heroine: Annabelle Granger

In This Heart of Mine, you met Kevin Tucker. Now meet Kevin’s shark of an agent … and Annabelle Granger, the girl least likely to succeed. Annabelle is tired of being the lone failure in a family of overachievers. She’s endured dead-end jobs and a broken engagement. But that’s going to change now that she’s taken over her late grandmother’s matchmaking business. All Annabelle has to do is land the Windy City’s hottest bachelor as her client, and she’ll be the most sought-after matchmaker in town.

With his money-green eyes and calculated charm, Heath Champion is the best sports agent in the country. He’s wealthy, driven, and gorgeous, so why does he need a matchmaker, especially a red-haired screw-up like Annabelle Granger? True, she’s entertaining, and she does have a certain quirky appeal. But Heath is searching for the ultimate symbol of his success—the perfect wife.

And to make an extraordinary match, he needs an extraordinary matchmaker, right? If Annabelle isn’t careful, she just might find herself going heart-to-heart with the toughest negotiator in town — a man who’s beginning to ask himself … exactly how perfect does perfect have to be?

I really liked this book.

It starts out with us meeting Annabelle Granger, a firecracker of a woman who is frowned upon in her family. She’s the “black cat” of her family. She’s got 2 successful brothers and a mother who nags the ever living daylights out of her because she’s 31 and hasn’t settled down into a career. Annabelle’s had a few businesses that have gone under and she’s trying to turn her grandmother’s matchmaking business around and make something of herself. She’s very passionate about life and just reading about her attacking the venture of making a success out of her grandmother’s business, modernizing it and everything was just a crack up.

She was a very quirky heroine and she kept me laughing and just feeling for her. I loved her sense of humor, I loved all of her little gripes against Heath and what I most liked about her was the way she handled being handled by him.

The chemistry between Heath and Annabelle is unmistakeable to the reader, even if it was farthest from Heath’s mind. I loved the way SEP wrote these two’s relationship. I loved how at the very beginning they were so at ease with eachother, the scene where Heath makes her ride with him somewhere and she thinks he’s gonna leave her and she’s running through traffic hollaring for him to wait and she’s got her Mocha frap and how he just kept taking it from her and drinking it, the SECOND time he met with her…I loved that kind of business.

I liked seeing the old characters from the previous books actually having reasons to be in the story and not just talked about. Those are some of my favorite characters and to see them back in action right along with Heath and Annabelle scored major points with me.

I loved revisiting the campground from This Heart of Mine. I loved seeing Kevin (my favorite SEP hero) and Molly again and more over, I loved seeing little Hannah again. Goodness, that little girl is just about my favorite kid character ever, she’s so great!

Heath Champion, there were times when I wanted to take him by the shoulders and just hold him still for a minute, he so reminded me of Jerry Maguire in that, I move faster than my feet can take me and I’m eager to please all of my clients to the point where I am in dire need of therapy way. The transformation from first class jerk to the insecure manly sexy man at the end was great. I loved seeing him grow attached to Annabelle, it was a treat to see him all wanting to make things right Annabelle.

I even loved little Pippy…she was so cute with her phone fettish…with her Heath’s phone fettish. haha.

Annabelle’s family got on my hot damn nerves so I was really happy that Heath came into her life and became her Champion…even if he didn’t see her family the same way she did. I loved that finally, Annabelle was one up on Candace that conniving little bitch.

The way the story was told had me reading early into the morning, I didn’t get to sleep until 3:00am on the dot and I can’t say that I’m mad about it. The only thing that didn’t boost this book to an A is that I felt the end was sort of rushed and kinda fell flat with Heath’s realization of his love for Annabelle, I wanted more from that but as a whole, this book was a really great read for me.

Thanks SEP!

4.5 out of 5.

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

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DIK Reading Challenge Review: Dream A Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted December 31, 2010 by Tracy in Reviews | 6 Comments

After the discovery that her late husband, a popular televangelist, embezzled five million dollars from his ministry, Rachel Stone is outcast and broke with a five-year-old son to raise, and in need of a job. Then fate and a dead car engine leaves her at a shabby drive-in theater owned by Gabriel Bonner, the hunky, anti-social black sheep of a prominent family, and the only person in Salvation, North Carolina, willing to employ her. The sexual electricity starts crackling the instant they meet–but it will take the shock of both their lives to give these two lonely people a second chance at love.

Rachel and her 5 year old son, Edward, drive into Salvation, North Carolina and her car breaks down. Not what she wanted to happen. She’s stuck right in front of a dilapidated drive-in whose owner seems to be a bear of a man who brings out the worst in Rachel.

She’s desperate though and so she asks the man, Gabriel, for a job. He gives her a flat out NO but she’s stubborn as a mule and won’t give up. After humiliating herself to the nth degree he finally gives her a job. Rachel is determined to do the best she can. She needs money to feed her son – even though she’s not feeding herself.

Gabriel soon discovers that she’s living in her car and calls his brother, a local minister, to come and help. When his brother, Ethan, arrives he’s none to happy to see Rachel. You see Rachel is the widow of a shyster televangelist whose headquarters were right there in Salvation. When G. Dwayne and his Temple were going down in a great ball of flame he blamed his wife, yes, that would be Rachel, for her materialistic desires and that’s why he felt the need to steal everyone’s money. Ethan believed all of what G. Dwayne had said so that even now, three years later, he wants Rachel gone before she can cause more havoc in the town.

Gabriel has Rachel and Edward put up in his grandmothers cottage and Rachel continues to work at the drive-in getting it ready for its grand opening. But life is not great for either Rachel or Gabriel. They each have their reasons for being in Salvation and neither wants to share with the other. But they seem to form a weird bond, besides unwanted lust for one another, that confuses each of them. It’s that strange something that moves them into a sexual relationship. But can you be in a sexual relationship on a regular basis and not form a more emotional bond? In this case, no.

That is such a small, very small, summary of what this book is about. Dream a Little Dream is a heart wrenching story of loss, deprivation, hatred and revenge. But it’s also the story of love, acceptance and understanding. It’s about two people finding each other during a time in their lives when they desperately need someone else – they just hadn’t figured that out yet.

For all of Gabriel’s abruptness the man charmed me from the first moment. It’s like I could see that he was hurting inside and trying to push people away even though nothing had been explained to me yet. His was just a soul that was crying out and Rachel, for all of her sometimes crass speech and sarcasm was just what Gabriel needed. He needed to see that someone had hit rock bottom but was still fighting and not giving up on life – which is exactly what he’d been doing. He was going through the motions of living for the sake of his family but inside he was dead and couldn’t see any bright light coming at him. Whether he wanted it to happen or not, Rachel started bringing some of that light

Rachel for all her toughness was scared out of her mind. Her concern was for her son though and she just wanted to make him a good life. It didn’t have to be one that had them living in splendor, she just wanted enough money to feed and clothe Edward and to keep him safe. At times I just wanted her to come out to the community members who were mean to her (including Gabriel’s brothers) and have her tell them the truth about G. Dwayne and their life but I realized that it wouldn’t have made a difference. The people of Salvation had heard what they wanted to hear and believed it with no question. I felt bad for Rachel but I also think her silence about things helped her in the end.

I don’t want to give anything away – and I think I’ve given you enough tidbits for you to decide whether you want to read the book or not. It’s a great book. Yes, it was the darkest SEP that I’ve read but it was so good I loved reading it. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Dream A Little Dream was a great, if atypical, love story, but it was also a wonderful story about family.

A wonderful way to end the year, and the DIK Challenge as well!


Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Review: Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted September 14, 2008 by Rowena in Reviews | 8 Comments


Hero: Bobby Tom Denton
Heroine: Gracie Snow
Grade: 4.5 out of 5

This book was one of those books that was just a laugh a minute. It was also one of those books that has you embarrassed as all get out for the characters in the book and then rolling your eyes down the street at characters who use words like malarkey and balderdash…who the heck talks like that?

Gracie Snow does, that’s who.

Gracie Snow is hired to escort, retired NFL Football player Bobby Tom Denton to a movie shoot that he’s already hecka late for. She was hired because of her way with people and her ability to talk people into doing what she wanted and so when she turns up on Bobby Tom Denton’s front stoop, ready to take him to Telarosa, Texas so that the movie making can get under way, she doesn’t expect this job to be so hard. She knew that he would be difficult but she underestimated how difficult.

Bobby Tom, on the other hand was forced into retirement from the NFL with a bum knee and so now he’s making movies in his hometown to keep it on the map and bring money into the little town.

What I enjoyed about this book the most was the interaction between Bobby Tom and Gracie. I thought they were hilarious together, from the very beginning when Bobby Tom thinks that Gracie is a stripper. They bicker and they fight and they laugh together and it makes for one laugh after the other all throughout this book. It’s hilarious…and sexy. I loved how Bobby Tom tried to show Grace who was boss and how Gracie would throw all of it back in his face by pushing his buttons. It was too funny watching these fight their way to true love, it was funny and it was sweet and it was just what I needed this weekend.

As much as I enjoyed this book, there was a lot of stuff that bothered me about it. Bobby Tom’s mercy f*ck, as he called it when he lowered himself to teaching Gracie the art of love making, the way he did it made me roll my eyes down the street and pissed me off but then I’m easy when it comes to athletes so it wasn’t long before I was back to mooning over him. He really is a stud and I just love me some cowboy athletes and that stetson of Bobby Tom’s totally worked for me. LOOOOVVVVEEED IT!

Gracie was a great heroine too, she was one of those heroines that was a plain jane turned hottie mchotness and though I sometimes roll my eyes at these kinds of storylines, this one worked. Gracie pulled off her role in this book and I thought she was a perfect match for Bobby Tom, they just meshed well with each other and I loved how it wasn’t all roses with these two, there was a lot of fire and still a lot of fun and laughter between them, it made for a really fast paced, straight up contemporary novel between two humans and not werewolves and what not, it was great stuff, for real.

This is the second book in the Chicago Stars series by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, a long time ago I reviewed the first book, It Had To Be You on Sanctuary’s Finest, my old book blog…I really enjoyed that book, it was the book that started my love all things Susan Elizabeth Phillips, it introduced me the sporting world of romance novels and this book kept my love of SEP alive. Everyone should totally read The Chicago Stars series and they most definitely should read this book because Bobby Tom is a stud and Gracie is the bomb!

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here.

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