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Book CoverC2’s review of First Star I See Tonight (Chicago Stars, Book 8) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Contemporary Romance published by William Morrow 23 Aug 16

We all have them, don’t we, faithful reader? Those authors we love but who sometimes disappoint us…or at least fail to wow. I’m always curious about which way SEP books will go for me, so I was glad to get the chance to read her latest. How’s that for a teaser?? Don’t you want to keep reading? OF COURSE YOU DO! Let’s do this!

Cooper Graham has a good life. A recently-retired quarterback for the Chicago Stars, he has plenty of money, some good friends, he’s in good shape. Cooper has set his sights on building a chain of nightclubs as his next challenge. He just needs the perfect financial backer – and he has one picked out. It’s just a matter of time before everything is in order. But why is he suddenly being followed by a chick in assorted disguises?

Piper Dove is a private investigator. Sure, she hasn’t been one long, but she is determined to make a go of restarting her late father’s business (after finally convincing her stepmother to sell it to her). Piper even landed a big client – a financial whiz is considering investing in a business deal proposed by a former football player but wants to make sure he isn’t just playing at business. If this job goes well, Piper might be able to stop following cheating husbands and insurance scammers.

After Coop catches Piper following him, he threatens to sue her unless she tells him who hired her. Instead of getting the info he wants, Coop finds out that Piper is an extremely loyal employee with too much integrity to divulge confidential details. She does drop the fact that Coop should keep an eye on one of his bartenders, though. He gets upset because the guy is an old friend, but Piper’s comment keeps at him until he does pay more attention and finds out his bartender is stealing from him. After that, Cooper convinces Piper to work for him – temporarily – until things at the club are running smoothly.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place?

Piper ends up living over the club and managing its social media, as well as scrutinizing all the employees and making sure everything is running as it should. She even ends up as the sole female bouncer – so the male bouncers don’t have to manhandle (and potentially get into trouble for said manhandling of) female guests. (Aside: Is this a thing? Because it makes a lot of sense to have a female on staff at clubs to take care of this sort of thing, says me.)

Coop is charming (without crossing into obnoxiousness) and pretty self-aware for a guy. Even if it takes him a while to realize that nightclub mogul isn’t really the job for him. Piper is badass. She has an unusual skill set for a former cubicle dweller – but she had a goal and knew what she needed to learn to get there. I enjoyed this book, faithful reader. Sometimes I have issues with SEP punishing her heroines too much *cough-Teddy’s book-cough* but I didn’t have that problem this time. Piper has issues left over from the way her dad raised her, but Coop understands and pushes her past them.

As always, the supporting cast of characters is engaging and entertaining. I especially like Jada, the teen neighbor/assassin. I remember playing a similar game when I was in high school (my weapon of choice was a saline bottle filled with tap water). There are strong female friendships, as there usually are, and male friendships that don’t involve just watching sports and drinking beer. Yay for avoiding stereotypes! Also, it is lovely to see a cameo or two from some of my favorite previous books.

All in all, if you usually enjoy SEP’s books, you will like First Star I See Tonight. There is humor and action and drama and all the things a good romance has. But does it stand alone? I say yes! Would your reading experience be further enriched by having read It Had to be You and Match Me If You Can, especially? YES! Plus, those two books are among my faves within the Stars world.

CSquareds C2 IconGrade: B+ (Yes, it was very good but I liked Match Me If You Can and Natural Born Charmer and It Had to Be You better…so there!)


Piper Dove is a woman with a dream—to become the best detective in the city of Chicago. First job? Trail former Chicago Stars quarterback, Cooper Graham. The problem? Graham’s spotted her, and he’s not happy.

Piper soon finds herself working for Graham, although not as the bodyguard he refuses to admit he so desperately needs. But Coop’s life might be in danger, and Piper’s determined to protect him, whether he wants it or not. (Hint: not!) If only she weren’t also dealing with a bevy of Middle Eastern princesses, a Pakistani servant girl yearning for freedom, a teenager who just wants to fit in, and an elderly neighbor demanding that Piper find her very dead husband.

From the bustling streets of Chicago to a windswept lighthouse on Lake Superior to the glistening waters of Biscayne Bay, two people who can’t stand to lose will test themselves and each other to discover what matters most.

No excerpt available.