Monday, August 31, 2009

Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Match Me If You Can


Match Me If You Can
Series: Chicago Stars, Book 6
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Release: August 29, 2006
List Price: $7.99

Read: August 27-29, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Chicago Stars Series | Browse Inside |

SUMMARY (from inside and back flap)
In This Heart of Mine you met Kevin Tucker. Now meet Kevin's shark of an agent ... and Annabelle Granger, the girl least likely to succeed.

Annabelle is tired of being the lone failure in a family of overachievers. She's endured dead-end jobs and a broken engagement. Even her hair's a mess! But that's going to change now that she's taken over her late grandmother's matchmaking business. All Annabelle has to do is land the Windy City's hottest bachelor as her client, and she'll be the most sought-after matchmaker in town. Nothing is going to stand in her way - not the drunk lying comatose under her car, not her family's disapproval, and certainly not the lingering effects of a broken heart.

With his money green eyes and calculated charm, Heath Champion is the best sports agent in the country. He's wealthy, driven, and gorgeous, so why does he need a matchmaker, especially a red-haired screw-up like Annabelle Granger? True, she's entertaining and she does have a certain quirky appeal. But Heath is searching for the ultimate symbol of his success - the perfect wife. And to make an extraordinary match, he needs an extraordinary matchmaker, right?

Thin, rich, utterly fabulous Portia Powers has spent her career making matches for everyone but herself. Her take-no-prisoners attitude has built Power Matches into the top matchmaking agency in Chicago. So what if she has more enemies than friends and she's one breath away from a nervous breakdown? Neither an upstart like Annabelle Granger nor Heath Champion's menacing, but oddly intriguing, bodyguard will keep her from getting what she wants - a Power Match for Heath ... the city's very own Jerry Maguire.

Soon everyone in Chicago has a stake in the outcome, right down to Annabelle's overprotective book club. When the matchmaker promises she'll do anything to keep her star client happy ... does she mean
anything? If Annabelle isn't careful, she just might find herself going heart-to-heart with the toughest negotiator in town - a man who's beginning to ask himself: Exactly how perfect does perfect have to be?

SERIES: Chicago Stars Series
  1. It Had to Be You (1994)
  2. Heaven, Texas (1995)
  3. Nobody's Baby But Mine (1997)
  4. Dream a Little Dream (1998)
  5. This Heart of Mine (2001)
  6. Match Me If You Can (2005)
  7. Natural Born Charmer (2007)
The Chicago Stars Series features characters that are somehow tied to the Chicago football team, the Stars. Book 1, It Had to Be You, features Phoebe Somerville, a sexy bombshell-type who inherits the football team, and Dan Celebow, the head coach of the team with whom she immediately clashes. Book 2 is Heaven, Texas and quickly became a favorite of mine; the heroine is an unusual ugly-duckling type, Gracie Snow, who becomes a (still unusual) swan, and the sexy and surprisingly complex Bobby Tom Denton, ex-quarterback for the Stars, is the hero.

Nobody's Baby But Mine
is Book 3, starring physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington and the legendary quarterback Cal Bonner, followed by Dream a Little Dream, featuring single-mother Rachel Stone and widower Gabe Bonner, who tragically recently lost his wife and child. Book 5 is This Heart of Mine, featuring children's book author - and Phoebe's sister - Molly Somerville and handsome Stars quarterback, Kevin Tucker.

Book 6 is covered in this review and Book 7 is Natural Born Charmer, a book I just checked out from the library; the hero is new hotshot quarterback Dean Robillard whom we were introduced to in Match Me If You Can and the heroine is down-on-her-luck Blue Bailey.

This is another great book by Phillips! It's my second by her, following Heaven, Texas, which was absolutely fantastic (5 stars). Match Me If You Can wasn't as good, but it was still excellent and after reading it from the library, I put it on my "to-buy" list, since I know that it will be a definite reread in the future.

The book had several laugh-out-loud scenes (I loved how Molly's daughter kept stealing Heath's cellphones!!), an interesting secondary romance between Portia Powers and Heath's friend Bodie (they were great - and a very interesting - pair), wonderful supporting characters (can't wait for Dean's story next, Natural Born Charmer), and the ending (or almost-ending, since there is an epilogue) where Annabelle asks Heath the two questions on the cliff is so sweet and very cute and funny.

MAIN CHARACTERS, Annabelle (31) and Heath (34)
The two main characters are absolutely wonderful and the interactions between them were from the start extremely entertaining. Annabelle is a feisty, red-haired woman, accurately described as "quirky" in the book's summary. She has a great sense of humor, is wonderfully generous and thoughtful, but is also a real spitfire who knows when to be sarcastic and poke someone who needs it (i.e. Heath). Heath is an equally great hero; he's determined, driven, dedicated, charming, loyal, and deeply in need of some relaxation, fun, and someone who is not as high-strung as he is (i.e. Annabelle).

They were really just perfect for each other and the reader sees from the beginning how well they balance one another. There were so many sweet and friendly interactions between them, with also plenty of chemistry between Annabelle and Heath to make the book into a romance. The teasing exchanges kept putting a smile on my face and when Heath would go visit Annabelle, find himself at her house, wonder why she was the first person he wanted to call with good news ... ::sigh:: yeah ...

One of my critiques is that Match Me If You Can didn't have the same chemistry as Heaven, Texas - or rather, it did, but there weren't as many ... shall we say, "chemistry induced" scenes that featured and showcased the sexual tension between the hero and heroine, lol ;-).

I also thought that the Epilogue could have used some retouching - it was told from Pippi's point of view (what a nickname ... does anyone else wonder at the pronunciation of that - isn't Philippa, which I think is her name, normally shortened to Pippa?) and though I loved having that detail, it could have been told in a straight-narrator form instead, IMHO.

Finally - and this isn't really criticism, but more of an observation - I saw some striking similarities between Heaven, Texas and Match Me If You Can in the way that Phillips fashions her endings. Basically: the woman knows she's in love with him, the man won't admit his love, he proposes and gives various reasons (other than love) for why he wants to marry her, she publicly spurns his offer, he becomes destroyed and everyone tells him he's stupid, there's some chase involved and then the realization of love, declarations, etc. We'll see if this pattern holds in more of her books.

Read it and be prepared to laugh while you do! Not as sexually-charged as Heaven, Texas was - the hottest scene was actually one with the secondary romance characters, Portia and Bodie - but still wonderful and a definite reread for me in the future.

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