* Prices may differ from that shown
I'll nail my colours to the mast up front and admit that I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips' books. And this is my favourite of her books and has a place of honour on my keeper shelf. The books on my keeper shelf are ones I read when I hit a lull and want something to read that I know I'll enjoy.
I knew from the first line of this book that I would enjoy it. "Phoebe Somerville outraged everyone by bringing a French poodle and a Hungarian lover to her father's funeral." With a sentence like that, I just had to read on and I didn't regret it.
Summary: Phoebe has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team from her estranged father, along with custody of her teenage step-sister Molly. The fact that a blonde bimbo who knows nothing about football now owns the team does not please Dan Calebo. Dan is the team coach and represents everything that Phoebe dislikes: he's a sexist, unreconstructed male with a one track mind. But events are going to prove to both Dan and Phoebe that first impressions can be wrong.
This is the second book in the Chicago Stars series and is unashamedly a romance rather than a sports dialogue. You really don't need to know anything about American Football to enjoy the book because that provides the background to the story rather than being an essential element. The true heart of this book revolves around Dan and Phoebe who are deeply, though reluctantly attracted to each other.
As this is a romance, don't expect any deep and meaningful dialogue or even a particularly strong storyline. Although the story moves along at a good pace, this book is all about relationships and ultimately love. This is served up with a deft touch by Susan Elizabeth Phillips who excels are writing sparky and humorous dialogue whilst building the passion. She's also a master at writing steamy love scenes.
Pheobe and Dan make likeable and attractive lead characters but the pleasure of a book by this writer is her secondary characters, who add life and extra dimension to the story. Some of these secondary characters, in fact, end up with stories of their own in future books in this series. OK the villain of the piece is a bit of a cardboard cut-out but the rest of the book reads like a frothy Hollywood romance film with a very satisfying ending which leaves the reader with that warm, fuzzy feeling.
This book was originally written and published in 1994 and has been reissued a couple of times since. Fifteen years later, it still reads well without feeling particularly dated.
If you enjoy romance that is nothing much like real life you'll love this and if it's your first book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I guarantee you'll want to read more.
It Had to be You is the first book in Susan Elizabeth Phillips Chicago Stars series. I have actually read three or four other books in this series and read it completely out of order so I was already aware of the series and what it was about. The entire series focuses on people who are somehow linked to the Chicago Stars american football team. I know nothing about american football...or any other sport, at one point I was convinced that the series was about basketball, that's how little knowledge I have. I've never really thought that reading the series out of order has had a big impact on my reading enjoyment but I do think that I would have had a better idea about what was going on regarding the football side of this series if I had read the series in order.
I can't say that the football side of this series really appealed to me. In fact I only read a book in this series because I had read other books by the same author and loved them, I didn't even read the back of the book. However, although I'm not a football fan and although it wouldn't be my first choice of romantic scenario the sports part of these books is quite minor. Football does play a big part in this particular book (more about that later) but overall it's really just a background thing in the series and something to push the romantic plot along.
I've found the series to be a mix of good, bad and somewhere in between books so I really can't comment on the series as a whole.
When Phoebe Somerville's father dies she doesn't expect him to leave her his precious football team. He disowned her a long time ago and they were barely speaking when he passed away. Her inheritence doesn't come without stipulations though and Phoebe has to work harder than ever if she wants to keep it.
Dan Calebow is the head coach and dislikes Phoebe and the way she runs the team but there's something about her that he can't resist. Phoebe is everything Dan isn't looking for. Or is she?
Can Dan and Phoebe take the Stars to the top of their game? Can they overcome their differences and live happily ever after?
Anyone who has ever read any books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips knows that in order to enjoy them you have to suspend reality. She doesn't write fantasy or paranormal romance but her books seem to be about as realistic as vampires and werewolves. This isn't a criticism, I'm really just stating a fact. If you want a book that's realistic and believable this is one to miss but if you're like me and just like some escapism this book is perfect. I think of Phillips' books as being a bit like an American soap opera, full of unrealistic drama, beautiful people and amazing coincidences.
Having been disappointed by a few of the books in this series I wasn't exactly sure what I would be getting with this one but I found myself really enjoying it and finding it difficult to put down. I read it quite quickly, finishing it in two days even though I had a million other things to do. The combination of a very simple and easy to follow writing style and an action filled storyline that left you constantly wanting to know what was going to happen next made it very difficult to put this book down.
The characters in this book were really enjoyable to read. They were complex and well developed, easy to empathise with and they complimented each other very well. They made quite an explosive combination, both being stubborn and opinionated and neither scared to voice their opinion. It felt like a very passionate relationship, the kind that would still be interesting in ten years time. But I also felt like it was quite a deep relationship and that both characters made a real connection with each other. Both characters were characters that I felt I would respect if I knew them in real life.
The football team are a much bigger part of this book than any other book that I've read in the series. A lot of the book is focused on Phobe getting to know about football and on Phoebe and Dan trying to make the team a success. I don't think that Phillips went over the top with the football details, she gave enough information for someone like me (completely ignorant of all things sport related) to be able to understand what was going and as a reader I felt like I was learning with Phoebe which made it more engaging and enjoyable.
There were a few things that I didn't like about this book. I felt that Phillips used a few gratuitous rape scenes. Although being a survivor of rape was part of Phoebe and I liked that she was portrayed as a strong survivor rather than a victim I felt that the scenes were too graphic and unnecessary. I think that she could have made them just as disturbing if she had taken out some of the detail and that it was really quite unnecessary. These scenes did make me uncomfortable but I think that a rape scene always should so I'm not criticising her for that, just that I think it could have been done just as well without the unnecessary detail.
The other thing that made me quite uncomfortable were a few parts that seemed to suggest that most gay men die of AIDs. I guess I should take into account the fact that this book was written in the early 90s but parts still came accross as quite homophobic to me. I don't think it was the intention of the author at all, in fact she portrays Phoebe as a woman who has mostly gay friends and is more comfortable in the company of gay men who don't want to have sex with her than she is in the company of heterosexual men. I just thought that putting in how most of Phoebe's money had gone towards caring for all of her friends who had died from AID's was unnecessary and suggesting that most gay men die of AID's. Now that I'm writing this I am wondering if perhaps she was trying to raise awareness of AID's and that I'm just reading it out of context as it is fifteen years after the book was published.
This was a really enjoyable book. It's completely unrealistic but I think that's a good thing. The romance is well written and the characters very easy to empathise with. I would recommend it.
**Anything I earn from this review is being donated to http://www.marysmeals.org/**