Wednesday, July 16, 2014

TBR Challenge: Susan Elizabeth Phillips - It Had To Be You

What if a woman who knows nothing about sports inherits a professional football team? The Windy City definitely isn't ready for Phoebe Somerville, the outrageous York knockout who’s taking over their home town team. And Phoebe is definitely not prepared for the Stars' head coach Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. This is the book that began it all. The Chicago Stars are about to take the field... and they’re not the only ones playing for keeps.

Comment: Here's the challenge read of July. The theme was something RITA related, whether a winner or a nominee. I've picked this book by SEP not only because it fit the theme because it won a RITA in the 90s but also because it has been on my TBR for a lot of time, so one down.
Unfortunately I liked it very much and now I want to buy the other 6 books, which will add up to said TBR list even more. But is it really a loss? Only a reader would answer that as a no.

This is a book so many readers have read but I never got to it before no reason why, it just was there. It's Phoebe Somerville's story and how she went from a reluctant football team owner to a successful woman to be respected. The story is developed mainly while Phoebe has to follow her father's will to own the team and she will only keep it if they win at the end. Phoebe is unique and presents a glamorous facade but deep down she's lovely and quieter than people think.
Dan is the coach of the team and he thinks she's a bimbo set on getting on his nerves. As time goes by he gets to know her and to understand sometimes what you see isn't what really matters.

As I said, I liked this story a lot, mainly because Phoebe had awful experiences a child and she tried to cope and to be better anyway. Reading about her childhood was sad and even more about her days of depression and self hate. Although this was told in a very loose way, I still felt a bit emotional. But it also help the reader to move forward quicker, I mean, Phoebe's life experiences until the place where she is now aren't so extensive this turns into a soap opera or a drama, but it's enough to the reader to feel sympathy towards her.

This brings me to the author's writing style, considering this is my first book by her, I was expectant about how I'd enjoy the book, and I liked how the pace seemed to move forward but not in a boring or redundant way. It was nice to savor the story without having the feeling the author herself was bored. I can't explain it, it's only a personal feeling I've had with some authors here and there. Ms Phillips wrote her story and despite the change in POV in the middle of a chapter without any graphic hint, I still liked it although that hint could have been useful even if it was over very small POV changes.

Dan was an interesting character, he seemed rude and overbearing often but he had a softer side that made him more realistic. My main dislike about him was how he was divided at some point for two women and despite we know how he was just deceiving himself it still bears a note.
I liked how he understood Phoebe when it mattered and how he was there for her in the crucial times, especially when she needed to tell her story. The epilogue was very sweet.

Overall, the book was intriguing and full of very special characters, for all the reasons they were on the page. But this is also about football and people have said the author was very realistic in her football descriptions..I'll take their word for it because I still was left in the dark and I guess for any reader not familiar with football it was the same. In a way the explanations weren't enough for me to follow the football references but I have to confess more of that and it would be boring. We don't have this kind of football in my country nor is it something we see much on tv, so I was even more in the dark than Phoebe. However, this didn't ruin my enjoyment of the story and I could see it was important to the characters, which made it easier to read about.

In the end, a great romance, very interesting topics and even better, a couple with little things enough to match and to suit. The bad guys had their fate, the good guys learned their lessons and the HEA was perfect. The cover though...I think there would be better ways to give the sports and glamor idea..I don't like this cover but it was the one I got... not that it matters to the plot or the book itself, but it's a bit annoying.
I really had a good time with this one and sometimes you don't have to analyze it all to make it a good book, sometimes you just enjoy.
Can't wait to read the others now, I'll have to buy them soon.
Grade: 8/10


  1. Sonia, is this your first book by SEP? I have the original 1994 edition of this book that has a non-sexualized cover.

    I'm glad you enjoyed It Had To Be You. I did too! SEP has a way of taking really controversial characters like the so-called "bimbo heroine" (Pheobe) and bone-headed athlete heroes (Dan) and turning them around by the end. I seem to experience moments of inescapable discomfort when I read her stories, but by the end, she almost always turns the story to an acceptable conclusion. I think there are only a couple of her books where that hasn't happened for me.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of the books! There are a few in there that became all time favorites for me. :)

  2. I must reread this one. I totally agree with your last statement, why analyze all the time - the important thing is the total enjoyment.

  3. I don't know why, but I don't think this is the original cover. Either way, I also really like this story. I like Phoebe, with all her neuroses, and Dan, who seems to be so much the typical jock.

    Yes, there is a lot of fantasy--and I'm sure more than one lawyer groaned at the conditions set forth in the will--but the characters are so engaging, we forget that and enjoy the ride.

  4. Sorry for taking so long to reply...summer cleaning....

    Hilcia I got the book at a used bookstore, so I wasn't picky..but still. Yes, I plan to read the others!!

    Kathryn, at the end, that's reading for me, enjoyment!

    Azteclady, I didn't mind the most unlikely scenes..the story moved me and made me want to keep reading and that is the base for any read for me. I liked the book was so much more than that, in the end.