Natural Born Charmer is a delightful contemporary fictional story, filled with funny situations and witty dialog. The characters in this book will win your heart, stir your emotions, and make you laugh.
Thirty-year-old Blue Bailey learned from a very young age that people could not be trusted. Everyone she had ever loved left her. She decided that it would be easier to feel the heartache of loneliness, than to suffer the stinging pain of betrayal and rejection. So Blue Bailey hid herself behind a smart mouth, oversized tee shirts, combat boots and a badass attitude.
Pro-football player Dean Robillard smiled when he spotted a woman dressed in a beaver suit stomping alongside the highway blazing with anger. Intrigued, he pulled his car over. He had no idea that his life was about to change forever. Blue Bailey on the other hand had no idea that she was about to let in a self-centered selfish man who would crack her inner fortress, and break her heart.
Blue Bailey marched along the Tennessee highway, furious and fit to be tied. Her bank account had been ransacked, her car rendered useless, and if she didn’t get out of her beaver suit soon she was going to drop from heat exhaustion. So when Pro-football star Dean Robillard stopped to offer her a ride, she took it.
Dean was used to women falling all over him. So when Blue Bailey refused his charms, he was stunned. Who was this girl? She certainly wasn’t a beauty queen dressed in men’s clothing and combat boots. She should feel lucky that he even acknowledged her presence at all. But the more time Dean spent with Blue, the more he discovered that her thick sarcastic exterior was just a cover for the insecure beautiful girl who lived beneath it.
Blue couldn’t understand why she even cared about Dean. He was a conceited jerk, and treated his mother as if she were dead. Blue got it though, he had been abandoned, but so had she. Maybe her mother wasn’t a druggie like Dean’s, but at least his mother was trying to be there now for him. That was more than she could say about hers. Blue had to get away from Dean Robillard. She was playing with fire and her heart was about to be broken. So Blue took a job painting a portrait for a mean-spirited hateful woman, who would end up befriending her.
Natural Born Charmer is a well written, funny and emotional read, crafted with several subplots. Susan Elizabeth Phillips does a fabulous job developing her secondary characters. She depicts for the reader the overwhelming guilt that hits a parent when they realize, that their self-indulgent lifestyle has left permanent scars upon their children. Each character in Natural Born Charmer pulled my heartstrings, except Dean Robillard. He never won me over. I loved the character of Blue Bailey though; she’s sassy, smart and funny and has a beautiful loving heart.
The common thread in Natural Born Charmer is about relationships, the pain of them, and the joy of them and how some relationships are just worth fighting for, no matter what. I loved this book, it moved me emotionally, and made me laugh. It’s unrealistic, but it’s so enjoyable that it really didn’t matter. I read the book in one day.
I highly recommend Natural Born Charmer. Be prepared to laugh and ride a roller coaster of emotions. Smart mouth, badass Blue Bailey is going to win you over. I guarantee it.
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Considering the fact that I've never attempted to hide my love of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and her stories, it should come as no surprise that I was in the bookstore the day Natural Born Charmer was released. It takes a special author to convince me to shell out my hard-earned money for a hardback book, but SEP is always worth it.Natural Born Charmer is a continuation of Phillips' Chicago Stars series, which center around a fictional NFL team (AFC division, for those of you who might be curious) and the people involved with it. This is the story of Dean Robillard, the quaterback of the Stars, who was introduced in Phillips' previous novel Match Me If You Can as a young, arrogant, too-good-looking rookie. This book picks up with Dean now in his early 30s. Some of the youth is gone, a lot of the arrogance is gone, but the looks are definitely still there.Blue Bailey is our hapless heroine. And when I say hapless, I mean it literally--the first time Dean sees her she's trudging down the side of a country road in Colorado wearing nothing but a beaver suit. Yes, you read that right. A beaver suit.The two end up going on a cross-country road trip to Tennessee together (Dean wanted company, and Blue had no money and no place to stay), where Dean's recently bought a farm. Once they get there, though, Dean discovers that his estranged, ex-groupie/drug addict mother has been mascarading as his housekeeper. Blue, coming from a pretty dysfunctional family herself, tries to help mother and son to reconcile, but Dean's just a little too bitter. Things only get worse when his 11-year-old half sister Riley finds him, causing their father (famous rock singer Jack Patriot) to come after her (Riley's mother had just died). Throw in a crotchety old woman who literally owns the tiny Tennessee town, and SEP has once again provided the reader with an excellent cast of characters.The thing I love about SEP's books is that they're funny and extremely well-written. They read fast, and it's hard to stop turning the page and put the book down. Her characters always feel real, like people you know in real life (or that might just be me, since I know lots of dysfunctional people). You also know you're going to get a great secondary romance. And, truth be told, odds are at least one of the characters is going to have some sort of mommy or daddy issues that need to be dealt with. Some people see that as a bad thing, but I see it as being realistic--it's pretty much impossible to find someone who doesn't have mommy or daddy issues.That being said, I'm afraid she's getting a little too predictable. Don't get me wrong, I loved the book. It was overall another great read by who I like to call the Queen of Romantic Comedy. But the thing is, you know you're going to get certain things when you read SEP. On one hand, it's comforting and it fulfills a definite need. On the other, it can be dangerous for an author to stay too close to the same "formula." Dean's character also reminded me a lot of Kevin from This Heart of Mine (which is my favorite book ever), and while that isn't necessarily a bad thing (if Kevin were real I would marry him), it isn't necessarily a good thing, either (the characters need to be distinctively different).The one area where she did deviate was with the sex--there was a lot less of it (although she did make a reference to some anal activity, which shocked me). Luckily, the tension was still there--and the tension's at least half the fun of reading a great romance. But I have to say that I was a little disappointed by the sex scenes; they weren't as long or as descriptive as usual, and a part of me felt like I missed out on something. And before any of you start to think that I'm one of those women who vicariously lives through romance novels and only reads them for the sex, I'm going to shut you up right now. Sex scenes aren't gratuitous in romance--or at least they shouldn't be. They help to move the plot forward, deepen the relationship between the characters, and let the reader see inside the character's psyche just a little bit more (because, let's face it, sex can make you a little vulnerable). So for her to not get quite as deep into the POV during those scenes, it left me feeling a little...out of sorts, wondering what had happened to SEP and where had her great love scenes gone.Despite that, though, I still really enjoyed this book. I love flawed characters who are genuinely good people. I love to laugh. I love to cry. I love to pick up a book and find myself putting it down to go to the bathroom two hours later wondering where the time went.Susan Elizabeth Phillips has never failed to deliver a great read, and I know that she'll continue to provide funny, touching romances.
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