Tag Archives: Chicago Stars

The Chicago Stars Series (Most of It): It Had to Be You; Heaven, Texas; Nobody’s Baby But Mine; Dream a Little Dream; This Heart of Mine; Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

All of the books in the Chicago Stars contemporary romance series are built around the world of professional athletes and the women who want to climb them like trees. It’s a rarefied bubble that allows for the same kind of lifestyle fantasy as the aristocratic and wealthy world of historical romance. Almost every story also features an older couple getting a second chance at love.

  1. It Had to Be You
  2. Heaven, Texas
  3. Nobody’s Baby But Mine
  4. Dream a Little Dream
  5. This Heart of Mine – only Kresley Cole has ever made me angrier
  6. Match Me If You Can
  7. Natural Born Charmer – very entertaining and I recommend it

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a good writer with a successful formula and a long career. She’s clever and witty, but more than one of these books suffers from tropes that are outdated and/or offensive. Since Natural Born Charmer is the most recent of the series, it is the one I would recommend. I did try Call Me Irresistible and The Great Escape from her more recent collection. The former never captured my attention and the latter had a love scene involving the literal use of a licorice whip. Yowch.

It Had to Be You – 1994

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The Chicago Stars Series: Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Natural Born Charmer is a contemporary romance of the “you are everything I never knew I always wanted” variety with subplots of familial healing thrown in. Given the number of people with fractured or messed up families, I’m not surprised to see this element featured in several of the contemporary romances I’ve read. In addition to the main couple, there is a subplot featuring the hero’s parents who are also messed up and trying to find their way to stability. Natural Born Charmer has the slightly heightened reality common to romances, it’s sweet without being treacly and cacklingly funny.

Dean Robillard is gorgeous, rich, incredibly well-dressed, and gorgeous some more; to wit, “You look like an ad for gay porn.” (I’m still laughing.) A professional football player, his golden life looks perfect from the outside, but his broken relationship with his mother, his dissatisfaction, and his current road trip say otherwise. All that changes when he sees a woman in a headless beaver costume stomping down a side road. Blue Bailey (Hush, it’s a totally cool name.) is a feisty mess. A peripatetic artist, she moved from Seattle to Denver just in time to be dumped by the boyfriend she moved there to join. Alone, jobless, and broke, her car has just died and she is stuck. Claiming to be gay to make her feel comfortable, Dean offers to drive Blue first to her apartment, then to Nashville, and eventually to rural Tennessee where he is going to check on the farmhouse he is having renovated. She never leaves.

Blue and Dean are both deliciously sardonic and sarcastic. I found myself throwing my head back and laughing in the way they always describe in these books, but you don’t really believe is true until it happens to you. They also have abandonment issues and not necessarily healthy coping mechanisms, but eventually manage to figure things out. While their personal relationships are improved, they are not perfect, and there is a nice examination of what happens when children are let down by their parents, even if it is for a really good reason.

A great example of the genre, Natural Born Charmer is a very well executed and sweet read. I have already taken out three more Susan Phillips novels from my library to start working  through her back catalogue…

I have now reviewed almost every other book in Phillip’s Chicago Stars series as well, although I don’t really recommend them, but I do get tremendously angry with one of the heroines.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my list of books by author.