It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (1994)

It Had to Be You (Chicago Stars, #1)The Windy City isn’t quite ready for Phoebe Somerville—the outrageous, curvaceous New York knockout who has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team. And Phoebe is definitely not ready for the Stars’ head coach, former gridiron legend Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. Calebow is everything Phoebe abhors. And the sexy new boss is everything Dan despises—a meddling bimbo who doesn’t know a pigskin from a pitcher’s mound.

So why is Dan drawn to the shameless sexpot like a heat-seeking missile? And why does the coach’s good ol’ boy charm leave cosmopolitan Phoebe feeling awkward, tongue-tied…and ready to fight?

I spent the first 50 pages of this book wondering why on earth several of my favourite contemporary romance authors who I love and respect had rated this book so highly and why it was near the top of every romance book list on here …….. and then it started to get good, really good. There’s no doubt that Susan Elizabeth Phillips pioneered the ‘Sports Romance’ genre. Her characterisation was amazing and she made you care about the secondary characters as much as the main ones.

My opinion of Phoebe did a complete 180 by the time I reached halfway – fabulous character. Dan’s temper and motivation to seek a good mother for his future children stopped me being completely won over by him but the Phoebe/Dan romance and the plot as a whole counteracted my slight irritation at him. Phoebe/Molly, Phoebe/Ron and Phoebe/the football team were also favourite dynamics. Oh and Pooh! And Victor – could really have done with more of him in the latter half of the book.

Sidenote: Although I tend to assign songs to my favourite TV ships/characters, I’ve never really done that with characters in books but when I was reading this on the train, ‘Silver Girl’ by Fleetwood Mac came on my iPod and I couldn’t help but notice how well it suited Phoebe in the first half of this book:

Sometimes she was just an actress
But you’ll never really know
A shadow moves across her face
You cannot see her soul
Unless she lets you…
See her soul

She was a girlie girl
Caught in a man’s world
And as her world turns
She feels so alone

And there you go! You know I love a book when I assign Fleetwood Mac lyrics to it.

Book: 5*

Cover: 2*

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