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Review for SEP Hero Blog-Along: NATURAL BORN CHARMER by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Chicago Stars #7)

Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s latest–HEROES ARE MY WEAKNESS–comes out later this month. To celebrate, is hosting a blog-along, asking bloggers to read two of SEP’s older books plus her new release–I’m so excited to take part!

About the book:

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.


Dean Robillard is definitely one of my favorite fictional heroes. I loved, loved, loved him as a secondary character in Match Me If You Can, where he gave his shark of an agent Heath Champion a whole lot of grief by hanging out with Heath’s matchmaker/future wife Annabelle. I was so excited when he got his own book–and it did not disappoint!

Dean and Blue Bailey have some of the best banter I’ve ever read. He’s drawn to her originally because she’s one of the very few people who can see right through his BS, and they both give as good as they get here. This is a continuation of the opening scene, before they really know each other (but it’s pretty representative of about three-quarters of their conversations):

“An actor,” she said with the trace of a sneer. “Just my luck.”

What makes you think I’m an actor?”

“You’re prettier than my girlfriends.”

“It’s a curse.”

“You’re not even embarrassed?”

“Some things you have to accept about yourself.”

“Brother…” she gave a grunt of disgust.

“Name’s Heath,” he said, as she picked up the pace. “Heath Champion.”

“Sounds phony.”

It was, but not in the way that she meant.

“What do you need a gun for?” Dean asked.

“Murder an old lover.”

“Is he the one who picked out your wardrobe?”

Her big ol’ paddle tail smacked him in the leg as she spun on him. “Beat it, okay?”

“And miss all the fun?”

I wish I could do pithy comebacks like these two. Underneath it all, though, are two people who are desperately afraid to form permanent relationships–all the while that they’re–wait for it–forming some pretty gosh darn permanent relationships.

Although the seemingly unlikely romance between Dean and Blue is of course the main relationship in the story, in this book the secondary relationships really shine–and help solidify Dean’s permanent spot on my top romance heroes list. Dean’s childhood was definitely less-than–he was illegitimate, and his rock-star-groupie mother struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol–and it’s made him bitter towards his parents and very wary of giving anyone very much of himself. He gets along with the entire planet practically–except for his parents–but his only really close friends are Heath and Annabelle, and even they don’t know his biggest secrets. Events in the novel conspire to bring both Dean’s now-sober mother April and his still a mega-rock-star father Jack back into his life, and Dean has to come to terms with his past and future relationships with both of them. Add in the eleven-year-old half sister he’s never met and a crotchety old woman who is related by blood to no one in the novel but somehow becomes family to them all, and oh my gosh you’ve got one heck of a story.

With one heck of a hero. Even when he’s being a jerk, knowing the reasons behind his ‘tude keep me in his corner–mostly. (I always waver a bit at the end, questioning his tactics–but he always proves me wrong, darn him.) And the big scenes with first his father and then his mother? They get me, Every. Time. (Then Jack Patriot’s parting line to Dean always makes me laugh out loud–“Now, are you satisfied or do we have to fucking hug?” Absolutely perfect.)

Seriously, this one’s a must-read. Or in my case, a must re-read. Over and over and over again.

Rating: 5 stars / A

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