"Funny, Touching and Beautiful. Contemporary Romance at its finest."
Reviewed by Angela Haley
Posted July 31, 2014
NATURAL BORN CHARMER is the seventh book in the Chicago
Stars series by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and was
published in 2007. I remember reading this back when it was
first published and falling deeply in love with the main
characters, Blue and Dean. For this review I wanted to do a
reread and remind myself of all the reasons why I gushed
about it originally. After finally finishing I remember
exactly why this book earned a place on my keeper shelf.
This couple's journey begins on a small back road where
Dean sees Blue is walking down the street wearing her
beaver costume, sweaty, dirty and ready to do bodily harm
to an ex-boyfriend. He gives her a ride, they exchange
sarcastic banter and from there a very different type of
relationship for each of them is born. They both have
complicated histories that have led them down very
different paths in life. Dean Robillard is a successful
quarterback with the Chicago Stars and Blue Bailey is a
broke, down on her luck painter. There isn't much that they
have in common, but they are exactly what the other needs.
With no money and no place to go, Blue is kind of stuck
with the glitzy, gorgeous football player until she can
figure out how to get back on her feet. Dean decides to
take her with him to his farm in Tennessee. She only
intends to stick around temporarily and he finds the quirky
woman amusing enough to keep her around until she decides
it's time to leave. I adored each of them equally and loved
the study in contradictions the more I got to know them.
Dean is wildly rich and famous, but doesn't take himself
too seriously. Blue is wickedly smart and has a snappy
comeback for everything, but she hides a bruised heart that
has problems with trust. Each are flawed in their own ways,
but together they just work. This couple had me hooked from
their very first meeting right up until the happily ever
I could go on and on about how touching and poignant Susan
Elizabeth Phillips's love stories are, she really is one
of the most gifted contemporary romance authors alive, but
I won't. Mainly because the very best thing about her
stories aren't just the main romances between the hero and
heroine. It's all the different, intricate secondary
plotlines that reach out and grab readers when they least
expect it. Every type of relationship is represented, from
friendship to family. Brothers discover bonds with their
little sisters they didn't know they needed, two people who
thought they were lost to each other realize they still
have crazy, mad love that will never die and even grouchy,
bitter old ladies can discover they have a touchstone in a
sarcastic young woman. Each of their side stories is
incredibly stunning and real. I went through the whole
gamut of human emotion while reading. I laughed out loud,
felt that heaviness in my chest a few times, cried just a
little bit and in the end closed this book with a heart
full of happiness.
NATURAL BORN CHARMER is a beautiful tale of love and
redemption. I fell in love with these characters all over
again and found this to be just as enchanting the second
time around. Susan Elizabeth Phillips never fails to
deliver the very best in contemporary romance.
Chicago Stars quarterback Dean Robillard is the luckiest man
in the world: a bona-fide sports superstar and the pride of
the NFL with a profitable side career as a buff billboard
model for End Zone underwear. But life in the glory lane has
started to pale, and Dean has set off on a cross-country
trip to figure out what\'s gone wrong. When he hits a lonely
stretch of Colorado highway, he spies something that will
shake up his gilded life in ways he can\'t imagine. A young
woman . . . dressed in a beaver suit.
Blue Bailey is on a mission to murder her ex. Or at least
inflict serious damage. As for the beaver suit she\'s wearing
. . . Is it her fault that life keeps throwing her
curveballs? Witness the expensive black sports car pulling
up next to her on the highway and the Greek god stepping out
Blue\'s career as a portrait painter is the perfect job for
someone who refuses to stay in one place for very long. She
needs a ride, and America\'s most famous football player has
an imposing set of wheels. Now, all she has to do is keep
him entertained, off guard, and fully clothed before he
figures out exactly how desperate she is.
But Dean isn\'t the brainless jock she imagines, and Blueâ€”
despite her petite statureâ€”is just about the toughest woman
Dean has ever met. They\'re soon heading for his summer home
where their already complicated lives and inconvenient
attraction to each other will become entangled with a
charismatic but aging rock star; a beautiful fifty-two-year-
old woman trying to make peace with her rock and roll past;
an eleven-year-old who desperately needs a family; and a
bitter old woman who hates them all.
As the summer progresses, the wandering portrait artist and
the charming football star play a high-stakes game, fighting
themselves and each other for a chance to have it all.
ExcerptIt wasn\'t every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching
down the side of a road, not even in Dean Robillard\'s
larger-than-life world. \"Son of a . . .\" Dean 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 short, 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. His newest pair
of Dolce & Gabbana boots emerged first, followed by the rest
of him, all six feet three inches of steely muscle,
razor-sharp reflexes, and unsurpassed gorgeousness . . . or
at least that\'s what his press agent liked to say. Still, it
was pretty much true, although Dean didn\'t have nearly as
much personal vanity as he let people believe. But
emphasizing the superficial was a good way to keep people
from getting any closer than he wanted them to be.
\"Uh, ma\'am . . . You need some help?\"
Her paws didn\'t break rhythm. \"You got a gun?\"
\"Not with me.\"
\"Then I\'ve got no use for you.\"
On she marched.
He grinned and set off after her. With his extra-long legs
and her shorter, furry ones, it took just a few steps to
catch up. \"Nice day,\" he said. \"A little warmer than I\'m
used to for May, but I\'m not complaining.\"
She hit him with a pair of grape lollipopeyes, one of the
few curvy things about her. Most of the rest of her came to
sharp angles and delicate points, from a set of fragile
bladed cheekbones, to a petite, arrow-tipped nose, to a chin
keen enough to cut glass. But after that, things got dicey.
A razor-edged bow marked the center of a wide and
startlingly plump top lip. Her bottom lip was even fuller,
giving him the disconcerting feeling that she\'d somehow
escaped from an X-rated nursery rhyme.
\"An actor,\" she said with the trace of a sneer. \"Just my
\"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
It was, but not in the way 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?\"
She gazed back at his sports car, a lethal, midnight black
Aston Martin Vanquish S with a V-12 engine. The machine had
set him back a couple of hundred thousand, but even that
hadn\'t made much of a dent in his net worth. Being the
starting quarterback for the Chicago Stars was pretty much
like owning a bank.
She nearly poked out her eye as she pushed a sweaty spike of
hair away from her cheek with her paw, which didn\'t seem to
be detachable. \"I could use a ride.\"
\"Are you going to gnaw my upholstery?\"
\"Do not mess with me.\"
\"Apologies.\" For the first time all day, he was glad he\'d
decided to get off the interstate. He tilted his head toward
the car. \"Hop in.\"
Even though this was her idea, she hesitated. Finally, she
shuffled after him. He should have helped her inâ€”he did open
the door for herâ€”but he just stood back to watch the fun.
Mainly it was the tail. The sucker was basically
spring-loaded, and as she attempted to wedge herself into
the leather passenger seat, it kept smacking her in the
head. She got so frustrated she tried to rip it off, and
when that didn\'t work, she stomped on it.
He scratched his chin. \"Aren\'t you being a little tough on
the ol\' beaver?\"
\"That\'s it!\" She started to take off again down the road.
He grinned and called out after her. \"I apologize. Comments
like that are exactly why women have lost respect for men.
I\'m ashamed of myself. Here, let me help you.\"
He watched her struggle between pride and necessity and
wasn\'t surprised to see necessity win. When she returned to
his side, she let him help fold over her tail. As she
clutched it to her chest, he guided her inside. She had to
sit on one cheek and peer around the tail to see through the
windshield. He climbed behind the wheel. The beaver suit
emitted a musky odor that reminded him of a high school
locker room. He cracked the window a couple of inches as he
pulled back out onto the road. \"So where are we off to?\"
\"About a mile straight ahead. Take a right at the Eternal
Life Bible Church.\"
She was sweating like a linebacker underneath all that
malodorous fur, and he turned the AC to full blast. \"Are
there a lot of career opportunities in beaver work?\"
Her derisive look told him she knew exactly how much
entertainment he was having at her expense. \"I was doing
some promotion for Ben\'s Big Beaver Lumberyard, okay?\"
\"When you say promotion . . .\"
\"Ben\'s business has been down lately . . . or so I was told.
I just got to town nine days ago.\" She nodded straight
ahead. \"This road leads to Rawlins Creek and Ben\'s
lumberyard. That four-lane highway back there leads to Home
\"I\'m starting to get the picture.\"
\"Right. Every weekend, Ben tries to hire somebody to stand
out by the highway with a sign to draw some of the shoppers
his way. I was his latest patsy.\"
What do you think about this review?
21 comments posted.
Re: Funny, Touching and Beautiful. Contemporary Romance at its finest.
I have read almost all of her books. I have always liked the
ones about the Chicago Stars. Great review, if I had not read
the book, I would go out and get it
(Sharon Salituro 12:10pm August 3, 2014)
I'm thinking that it's time for me to go and re-read this book and the rest of the Chicago Stars!! I love SEP's description in this excerpt. I have always thought that this would be the best book trailer ever!
(Cate Sparks 7:19am August 7, 2014)
I need to reread this now. thanks for the great review and reminding me
how much I loved this book.
(Kathleen Christopher 7:26am August 7, 2014)
I have read every book this author has written and have been a fan for a
very long time. As noted in the review, the peripheral characters bring such
added delight to the already wonderful stories. In Natural Born Charmer it
was the little sister story that I fell in love with. Chubby, unloved and hungry
for affection, i saw a lot of the 11 year old me in that child. Loved how SEP
brought her out of the shadows! That was the charmer for me!
(Lyn Foote 7:42am August 7, 2014)
Natural Born Charmer is my all time favorite SEP book!! It is my go to comfort read whenever I am feeling down :) I also have to say this book is what turned me onto audio books. It is my all time favorite audio and Anna Fields narration is just amazing. Even if audio isn't your thing & you love this book I promise you have to listen. Sadly Anna Fields dies of breast cancer but she lives on through her narration of SEP books. Great Review!!
(Kelly Watson 7:46am August 7, 2014)
SEP BOOKS are the best. Your review was right on for anyone new to
(Shelley Haag 7:46am August 7, 2014)
I have all her books and read them over and over. This one was one of my
favorites. Look forward to each new book coming out. Now I will go read
this one again while waiting for Heroes to arrive.
(Susan Perry 8:16am August 7, 2014)
This book never fails to crack me up! I reread it every now
(Rebecca Whitehead-Schwarz 8:16am August 7, 2014)
Natural Born Charmer is my fav SEP - easily! The characters,
every single one, are a joy. I laughed, cried, and laughed
some more! Blue is a real firecracker and Dean is, of
course, a charmer. But I also loved the back story of his
parents falling back in love. It's a wonderful book and
deserves a place in the Hall of Fame for romance books!
(Janet McCausland 8:28am August 7, 2014)
Love love loveee this book! And all of SEP's it's an amazing read and you
won't want to put it down! I especially love her novels because she finds
way for past characters to enter is new books, you get so attached to the
characters when reading and having them appear again brings a special
connection. I could (and do!) read any of her novels over and over again!
(Melli Carfagno 8:32am August 7, 2014)
One of my favorites!
(Nicole Giles 8:39am August 7, 2014)
The book hooked me from the beginning too! Wonderful characters, a storyline that ran the gamut of emotions, simply a feel good book! Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a woman who knows how to tell a story!!!
(Pam Cook 8:45am August 7, 2014)
I love SEP! I listen to her books all the time. The combination of SEP and
Anna Fields as a narrator, was fantastic. This is my favorite of her books!
(Mercy Boujarwah 8:45am August 7, 2014)
I have read every Chicago Stars books. I have reread NBC numerous
times. It took me awhile to appreciate her storytelling and her humor. I
think at the time I was too used to reading light and fluffy stories. SEP is
anything but! NBC especially has an underlying depth to the story as well
as back stories that it takes a while for you to stop and say "Whoah! I am
holding a real treasure!" My other favorite is Match Me If You Can. Then
again so are all the others in the series!
(Daniela Caldarola 8:51am August 7, 2014)
I love this book. The main character's chemistry is fantastic ! I also love the
comedy in the book.
(Lois Koch 9:13am August 7, 2014)
Blue is, by far, my favorite heroine. I have dipped into the
pool of SEP brilliance on many occasion. I reach for "NBC" on
a regular basis, when I a need the comfort and joy of a good
(KiKi Zaugg 9:22am August 7, 2014)
LOVE IT! I've loved every book in this series and all her others as well!
(Jessica Alcazar 9:26am August 7, 2014)
Love,Love,Love this book! Romance
and Comedy makes for a great read :)
(Kera Tavares 9:48am August 7, 2014)
My all time favorite book of all time, period. It's my 'comfort' food of books.
Wouldnt it make an amazing movie?? I have listened to the audiobook at
least eight times, and have bought copies of it, and the book, to share. Anna
Fields is also my all time favorite narrator. I was crushed to learn of her
death in a Portland, Oregon flood.
(Mary Beth Miller 10:08am August 7, 2014)
I loved this book and series
(Patricia Wagner 10:26am August 7, 2014)
Thanks so much for your lovely comments. And thanks to Tessa Dare for her
remarks about the book. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was
writing Jack and April. Fun to also include an older couple. My husband gave me
the idea for the beaver suit! (Don't ask!) :-)
(Susan Elizabeth Phillips 12:24pm August 7, 2014)
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