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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Natural Born Charmer

***** Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Contemporary romance.

This is the 6th (if I'm counting correctly) book in the series featuring the Chicago Stars football team.

How can you resist a book that starts with a headless beaver walking down the side of the road?

Said beaver is Blue Bailey, who's been abandoned after doing a roadside advertising gig. She's picked up by Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard, and they immediately start to irritate each other. And yet somehow, she ends up accompanying him on the drive to his farm in Tennessee.

Natural Born Charmer could just stick with that much story and be cute and clever and fun. But it goes much further than that. Both Blue and Dean have abandonment issues in their pasts--both had neglectful parents, to say the least, and the reason Blue took a job as a beaver is that the boyfriend she went to Colorado to be with left her for someone else, and she's broke because her mother emptied Blue's bank account to fund a rescue.

We meet Dean's parents as well as his young half-sister, and the romantic comedy part of the story becomes the framework for a much deeper tale of families, love, neglect, abandonment, and forgiveness. The characters are all very vivid and larger than life, all complex and neither good nor bad. All of them are struggling with various issues.

Parts of Natural Born Charmer were hard to read because they hit a little close to home, and parts made me angry (like Dean's solution to Blue's inability to trust him), but they all fit the story and the characters, and I finished it feeling emotionally exhausted and satisfied, which is for me the perfect result.

I still have a handful more SEPs in the TBR pile before I'm all caught up with her backlist. I'm really not in any hurry to get caught up--it's a nice feeling to know there's an unread gem waiting there.

PSA: Natural Born Charmer is the Cherry Book Club discussion for March 16 - 31. You're invited.


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*sigh* This is SEP's book am still waiting for from the library. Glad to see you gave it a good stars :)

I wonder, are you buying most books in HC now?
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