Series: Chicago Stars #2
Published by Avon on April 1st 1995
Genres: Romantic Comedy, Sports Romance
Come heck or high water, Gracie Snow is determined to drag the legendary ex-jock Bobby Tom Denton back home to Heaven, Texas, to begin shooting his first motion picture. Despite his dazzling good looks and killer charm, Bobby Tom has reservations about being a movie star — and no plans to cooperate with a prim and bossy Ohio wallflower whom he can’t get off his mind or out of his life. Instead, the hell-raising playboy decides to make her over from plain Jane to Texas wildcat.
But nothing’s more dangerous than a wildcat with an angel’s heart in a town too small for a bad boy to hide. And all hell breaks loose when two unforgettable people discover love, laughter, passion — and a match that can only be made in Heaven.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips has a unique way of combining romance with laugh out loud humor and then mixing in unusual characters to create an engaging rom-com story. Heaven, Texas has her distinctive funny, sexy style written all over it. This is the second book in the Chicago Stars series but can be read as a standalone. While I didn’t like this book as much as It Had to Be You, I still found it to be quite enjoyable.
The story surrounds Bobby Tom Denton, a good ole southern boy. He’s a ladies man who prefers leggy blondes with huge boobs and lots of makeup. Bobby Tom is sexy, irresistibly charming, generous to a fault, affable, but very stubborn.
“I happen to be immature, undisciplined, and self-centered, pretty much a little boy in a man’s body, although I’d appreciate it if you didn’t quote me on that.”
He’s a 33 year-old two-time Super Bowl champion who is struggling with an identity crisis after a career-ending injury. Bobby Tom is due to begin filming his first movie in his small hometown in Texas.
Gracie Snow is a production assistant for the film and she has been tasked with escorting Bobby Tom from Chicago to the movie set on time. At 30 years old she never thought she’d still be a virgin. Gracie is a Plain Jane and one huge walking fashion disaster – from her bad haircut to her ill-fitted matronly clothes. Gracie has led a sheltered life. She’s sweet, altruistic, curious, witty, giving, and very bossy.
Gracie and Bobby Tom get off to a rocky start but they get to know each other better when they set off on a road trip to Heaven, TX. They finally arrive at his hometown where he receives a hero’s welcome.
It becomes clear that everyone wants something from Bobby Tom: money, an autograph, a favor, sex. The town seems to be filled with selfish people who think he owes them for his success. It irritated me the way Bobby Tom let everyone walk all over him. Women are lined up around the block day and night to get some of that Bobby Tom lovin’ so in an effort to fend off their advances he concocts a story about being engaged to Gracie. Nobody would believe he could fall for someone as homely as Gracie so he arranges for her to have a complete makeover. Although the lines between fantasy and reality are in danger of being crossed, Gracie enters the scheme with open eyes and a vow to take nothing from Bobby Tom.
Her sense of honor wouldn’t allow her to take anything from him the way everybody else did. She would give herself to him out of the fullness of her heart, not with the hope of receiving anything in return. And when it was over, this man who had been kissed by the gods would at least be able to remember that Gracie Snow was the one person in his life who had never taken anything from him.
I love how independent and feisty Gracie is. She puts Bobby Tom in his place when nobody else will. Even though she’s led a sheltered life, she’s not afraid to try new things. She’s willing to risk her heart for momentary happiness and wonderful memories. She often refers to herself as homely and acknowledges her fashion faux pas but I never thought of her as being ugly. Her humor, her selflessness, and her many acts of kindness make her appealing. The makeover merely brings out the pretty girl who was always lurking there but who was never taught how to flourish.
Bobby Tom and Gracie make a fun pair and I love their verbal sparring as well as their easy joking. There are a couple moments that manage to be simultaneously hilarious and sexy. I’ll never look at Neapolitan ice cream the same way again.
“Sweetheart, I don’t think there’s going to be any pain, if that’s what you’re worried about. Now I’m no gynecologist, but you’re thirty years old, and whatever barrier might have been there when you were a youngster has got to have evaporated from old age by now.”
However, I wish there was more sexual tension between the two. Maybe it’s the repeated reminders that Gracie doesn’t look like Bobby Tom’s type (she doesn’t have big breasts and she’s not gorgeous) but they seem more like friends with benefits than real lovers. Bobby Tom likes her but he never tries to make her feel desirable. He likes having sex with her but it seems more about scratching an itch than feeling attracted to her. In fact, he tells himself that she’s a charity case but acknowledges he enjoys her company more than anyone else. It makes him seem shallow in my eyes for most of the book and I wanted to shake Gracie for selling herself short.
There’s an interesting little side plot involving the economic stability of the town and Bobby Tom’s mother who is a grieving widow. Many zany characters are introduced as old relationships are tested and new friendships are forged.
The unforgettable all-hell-breaks-loose ending is not to be missed! It alone is makes the book worth reading. The story concludes without an epilogue, however, leaving an air of uncertainty. What are Bobby Tom’s plans for the future? Will he continue acting or go into philanthropic work? What will Gracie’s role be? Where will they live? Has Bobby Tom come to terms with prematurely ending his football career? Luckily Susan Elizabeth Phillips has now posted an epilogue on her website: Heaven, Texas epilogue.