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Wednesday, December 31, 2008:
"Heaven, Texas" by SEP - review (1995)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (April 1, 1995)
ISBN-10: 0380776847
ISBN-13: 978-0380776849

Come heck or high water, Gracie Snow is determined to track down the legendary ex-jock Bobby Tom Denton and drag him back home to Heaven, Texas, to begin shooting his first motion picture. But taming an egotistical cowboy in a '57 T-Bird might be more than this prim Ohio wallflower can handle.
Despite his dazzling good looks and killer charm, Bobby Tom has reservations about being a movie star -- and no plans to cooperate with the bossy little virgins whom he can't get off his mind or out of his life. Instead, the hellraising 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 be made only in Heaven.
This is book #2 in SEP's Chicago Stars series, and I think I loved it even more than the first one, even though there were a few minor flaws here. But I'll get to those in a second.
Homely and awkward Gracie has been given a great opportunity to work in the movies, something totally different than her previous career in the nursing home, and she's determined not to mess this up. But first she has to bring former football-player-turned-movie-star Bobby Tom Denton from Chicago to his hometown of Telarosa. No sweat. She's got a plan and nothing is going to get in her way, least of all a gorgeous, southern bad boy the likes of which she's never seen.
If there's one thing Bobby Tom knows without having to try very hard, it's how to charm a woman, and he figures Miz Gracie Snow is no exception against his years of vast experience. After all, she's a naive woman who sees the best in everyone, so giving her the slip should be child's play. Only he doesn't count on Gracie being so clever, or so tenacious. But Bobby Tom will get to Texas when he wants to get to Texas, and if those movie people have a problem with that, well then, they could just dock it from his paycheck. He had more money than he knew what to do with anyway.

As exasperating as Bobby Tom is, he's also the most generous and colorful person Gracie has ever come across. He plays down his smarts by acting the part of good ole boy, and hides his hurts behind a dazzling smile and armloads of women. Gracie can see past all the glitzy showmanship Bobby Tom displays to the world straight into the heart of a decent, caring man who can't say no. Gracie doesn't want to be just another person Bobby Tom gives money to, so instead of letting him do her any favors, she pays her own way. She wants him to know that there's at least one person out there who's not asking him for a hand-out. Though wait until she finds out about the secret B.T.'s been keeping from her....

My thoughts:

At first I didn't think I was going to like this book, mainly because of Bobby Tom. I figured he was going to be a total pig while Gracie had to sit back and watch him sleep with a bunch of women while he treated her like crap. But he wasn't like that, and then he grew on me, and soon I could understand why Gracie fell so hard for him. He was a star, whether he knew it or not, and people gravitated towards him, women especially. Gracie saw this, and though a part of her was intimidated, she also saw how the only one he paid attention to was her. She made him laugh, and got him angry, and didn't put up with his bullshit. Even still, Bobby Tom thought he could manage Gracie, and when he realized he couldn't, things started to change for him. His feelings for Gracie became real to him, more real than anything he's ever known, and he finally figures this out and still almost loses the best thing that's ever happened to him. The guy deserved a good smack upside the head. I think Gracie was just the woman for the job.

In addition to Bobby Tom's & Gracie's budding romance, I also pretty much liked the developing relationship between Bobby Tom's mother and a man whom B.T. absolutely hated. It was not an easy one; there's a lot of history there, anger and hurt as well, and even some deception in the beginning that got my back up. But it was a complicated situation, and while it wasn't completely pretty at times, the way it played out was believable, and soon I was rooting for them just as much as I was for Bobby Tom and Gracie.

The few things that I didn't like about this book were the obligatory make-over scene for Gracie, although I was relieved it wasn't more dramatic than it ended up being. I'll admit, she really didn't know how to play up her assets and make the most of her hair and slim body. So yeah, I kinda justified that one.

The other thing that drove me nuts is how everything was on Bobby Tom's schedule. So what if a whole movie crew was waiting on him? Let 'em. That attitude bothered the hell out of me. I just felt he would never have been so disrespectful to his football coach, so what gave him the right to to so while working on this movie he signed on to do? A job's a job, and I didn't always like how he blew things off like that. I got that making movies wasn't a passion of his, and that his career ended sooner than expected because of a serious injury. But he was 33 years old, and it was time for him to grow up. I think Gracie really helped him do that because she tried to give him options. She didn't like to see him hurting, but she also saw all the potential he had bubbling inside of him. His life was not over, even if he'd never play football again.

This was a really engrossing book, and I stayed up all Sunday night reading it. Once I started I couldn't stop. It made me crazy at times, but it also made me cry a bit, laugh a lot, and generally fall in love with the characters. I've since gone ahead and ordered the rest of the Chicago Stars books, and can't wait til they're in my hot little hands. I can see why SEP has such a following. Good stuff, Maynard.

Rating: ****1/2 out of *****

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  1. Boy, Stacy, did you encapsulate how I felt about this book. I enjoyed this book, but it's not my fave by SEP. I really liked Gracie, but wasn't crazy about Bobby Tom.

    Great, great review.

  2. Best groveling scene ever. Bobby Tom needed a swift kick in the ass.

  3. I haven't read this book, but I've been thinking about trying Susan Elizabeth Phillips because she's been compared pretty often to Jennifer Crusie (whom I love), and also I listened to the first forty minutes of the audio book of "Match Me If You Can" and thought it was awesome...up until the time the scratched CD skipped.

    This sounds like an interesting book, although I tend to be biased against romances that end with grovelling scenes, because I had to endure one of those in a book I despised ("Sweet Trouble" by Susan Mallery), where the hero made up for trying to steal the heroine's son in a custody battle by just chucking money at her.

  4. I have enjoyed all the SEP's I've read. They are sexy love stories full of love, honor, and humor, and they are a refreshing change from some of the more erotic books I've read.

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book, it's such a good one! And I totally agree about BT and the whole putting the entire movie on hold because he wanted to drive and take the longest routes over there. I hated how irresponsible he was being about that whole thing and how he didn't care about anyone but him...but then the end came and like KB said, the best groveling scene happened and I forgot all about the beginning of the book, LOL...cause I'm easy like that! =)

    Great review sweets!

  6. I could not get into this book. I really liked the first one and there's another down the line that I read that I really liked but this one - eh. Maybe I'll have to get more the mindset and give it another whirl.

    Thanks for the great review Stacy.

  7. I can't believe this is a 1995 publication! Really? SEP is almost always a good read for me, funny and sweet, but some of her heroes occasionally feel off-kilter to me -- not that they're ever really out-and-out wrong or dislikeable, but there'll be a scene here or there where I'm going "uh, what??" You know?

  8. I loves me some Bobby Tom! Sure he's annoying and spoiled sometimes but he has a good heart.

    The whole thing with his mom and the neighbor...creepy.

    The quiz at the end? The sweetest evar!

  9. I did like this book :) I felt Bobby Tom got brought down to earth and Gracie was a sweety :) My fav is still Kiss an Angel. Have you read that one?

  10. Wow! The reviews for this book are totally different everywhere I go.

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