Very late SBD: Natural Born Charmer

It’s Wednesday, which is way, way late for the habitual SBD. I meant to post this timely but didn’t get around to it.   Anyway, here it is.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is widely admired for her contemporary romances.  Her sports heroes and awesome heroines.  A couple of her books are on my keeper shelf, and I’ve enjoyed most of her earlier (pre-2005 or so, maybe?) books.  Starting with This Heart of Mine, though, I’ve generally lost interest.  But then there was Natural Born Charmer, featuring Dean Robillard, a football hero.  Yeah, no, I tried it and discarded it back in 2007.  Why?  I couldn’t really remember.

Flash forward to last weekend, when I found a remaindered copy at B&N.  SEP?  Sure, I’ll pay $2.98 for a hardback.

This time around I finished the book, but now that I’ve finished, I remember why I abandoned it in the first place:  the secondary storyline.  A huge part of the book is the reconciliation of Dean with his parents, who were disasters as parents.  

Did I have a problem with the groupie mom?  Not with the groupie part of it.  She owned her sexual history without apology.  I was kinda peeved that the rockstar father (no monk himself) was judgmental and grudging about  it (hello, pot, meet kettle).  Addiction?  Eh, that piece was kind of glossed over.  But the abandonment or abdication of parenthood because it was inconvenient in their youths?  That really pissed me off.  Yes, yes, hindsight is twenty-twenty, and in their older years they both realized what they’d done; one was considerably pushier about suddenly being a parent and involved in Dean’s life, but both of them irritated me.  I get that getting over the childhood and whatever damage  idiot parents may have done is often a milestone in the emotional development of protagonists in fiction (and in real life, of course).  I also get that this is a hot button for me on a personal level, and other readers surely find the family reunion to be touching.  

But seriously.  Decorating a house and building a porch suddenly resolve decades of silence, disappointment and absence?  I don’t think so.

Now, if the family redemption had played a smaller part in this book, I could’ve enjoyed it more.  From a technical standpoint, SEP writes well.  Her characters are consistent, the dialogue is smart and funny, lots of sexual tension, etc.

But the parents.  Ugh.


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4 responses to “Very late SBD: Natural Born Charmer

  1. Anonymous

    I loved that book, but I didn’t begin to take any of it seriously. Kind of like Evanovich–characters that exist in another universe. I first wrote that the characters were cartoony, but compared to so many books I’ve read lately, they had Doestoyevchian depth. That’s not a word, but, by God, I’m not looking it up. Chekhovian depth? That looks more right.
    Anyway, I got a major kick out of that book. I see what you mean about the ex-star-fucker and loser singer but I don’t mind not liking everyone in a book.
    Kate R

    • It wasn’t that I disliked the characters as much as I disliked their behavior, horning in on Dean’s life. But that’s my personal baggage, really.

  2. Anonymous

    Strong Reactions and a Giveaway!
    Although I have not read anything about this author, it seems like people either love it or hate it. I am currently reading a book that I regret paying for, but I know I will finish it because I think to myself, “Keep going because it might get good at any minute.” I also wanted to let you know that I am having a giveaway on my blog, so check it out. Thanks for the great review.

    • Re: Strong Reactions and a Giveaway!
      That kind of thinking often keeps me reading, too 🙂
      This author has a good sized backlist of mostly contemporaries. I tend to like some of her older stuff more than the new, but you’ll find that nearly every book of her backlist has some readers who praise and others who pan.

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