First Star I See Tonight

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Finally! This is what longtime fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips have been asking for: another Chicago Stars book! But after years away from the Chicago Stars, how would this stand up? While it hasn’t toppled my all-time favorite – Match Me If You Can – it comes pretty close. Normally I’m all about the heroes in this author’s books. While I like the hero – a recently retired Chicago Star – I love the heroine. In fact, it’s going to take a lot to knock her off my ballot as Favorite Heroine and Favorite Kick-Ass Heroine in AAR’s Annual Poll.

As the book opens we learn a lot about Cooper Graham as he runs along Lake Michigan in his first September of retirement. Perhaps his defining characteristic is he hates to lose, and as he jogs along the Lakeshore he refuses to let a “kid” beat him, running through hip and shin pain from old injuries. Winning is all that matters in Coop’s mind, and he’s now directed his competitive drive to creating a chain of high-profile nightclubs. But while his first nightclub is a success, he needs financing to expand.

Our heroine Piper Dove is also competitive, also driven. She longed to work in her family’s detective agency, but her father would have none of it. After he died, Piper bought the family agency from her stepmother, only to discover it was in bad financial shape. But Piper now has a prestigious case, tailing Coop to get information on him. She longs to be the best detective in Chicago, but so far things aren’t going well as Coop has spotted her on several occasions

A word of warning: do not read the first few chapters in public. I found myself laughing out loud repeatedly during Coop and Piper’s first interaction at his nightclub, where she convinces him she’s British and is his stalker. Coop quickly finds out who she actually is, and demands to know who hired her, threatening her with the loss of future jobs. But Piper hates to lose as much as Coop does, and is just as stubborn, if not more so. In anger she tells Coop his bartender is cheating him. He doesn’t believe her, then figures out she’s telling the truth, and hires Piper to work in his bar for a few weeks.

A strange series of incidents lead Piper to believe someone is trying to hurt Coop and hurt the reputation of his club, do she makes herself his unofficial bodyguard. Talk about your kick-ass heroines! She defends Coop numerous times – and he doesn’t want to be defended. His bouncers are eventually more afraid of Piper than of Coop.

But Piper is so much more than tough. She’s self-aware; she knows she can’t stand to show weakness, but still picks fights, has to show she’s stronger than everyone else. I love how she accepts when she’s wrong, doesn’t make excuses, and admits it.

Piper has no interest in relationships and thinks men are a lot of work. When Coop and Piper head in that direction, they believe it will be temporary and will just be about sex. It’s fun watching the couple develop feelings for each other, almost in spite of themselves. I also love how well they know each other. Piper gradually learns more about Coop, realizing he’s so much more than a famous football player. And the ending is just perfect, demonstrating just how well Coop loves and understands Piper.

There are some fun cameos by some of my favorites from previous Chicago Stars books, most notably Heath and Annabelle from Match Me If You Can. It was nice seeing where they are in their lives a few years later. Does this mean you shouldn’t read First Star I See Tonight if you haven’t read the rest of the series? Not at all. This is truly Coop and Piper’s story, with the cameos merely adding context.

This is very close to a DIK for me; just a few minor things kept it from that, most notably a Middle Eastern subplot that felt off. But despite a few issues, I loved Piper and Coop, and highly recommend this book.

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Book Details

Reviewer :      LinnieGayl Kimmel

Grade :     B+

Sensuality :      Warm

Book Type :     

Review Tags :      | | |

Recent Comment


  1. Dabney Grinnan August 19, 2016 at 8:17 am - Reply

    I also liked the age of the protagonists.

    • RichMissTallant August 19, 2016 at 11:14 am - Reply

      Dabney, how old are the h/h? I see hero is retired. I have been looking for books with protagonists out of their 20s!

      • Dabney Grinnan August 19, 2016 at 11:40 am - Reply

        He’s 37, she’s 33 and they behave as grown-ups.

        • RichMissTallant August 19, 2016 at 11:59 am - Reply

          Thanks. That’s nice. I am reading a series at the moment where the heroine is like 24 and doesn’t get a Beatles reference and it occurred to me that in contemporaries I am finding it hard to connect with young protagonists (even though I’m not much older myself).

  2. LeeF August 19, 2016 at 10:49 am - Reply

    Yippee- my library has a copy and I am third in line 🙂

  3. Dabney Grinnan August 19, 2016 at 11:42 am - Reply

    It was fun to read through all of our reviews of the Chicago Stars books: http://allaboutromance.com/review-tag/chicago-stars-series/. We’ve reviewed them all, some more than once. My favorites are Natural Born Charmer and This Heart of Mine. My least favorite is Match Me If You Can although I’d give all of them As and Bs.

  4. RichMissTallant August 19, 2016 at 11:58 am - Reply

    I will have to pick this one up. I didn’t even realize there was another book in this series coming out. Aside from Match Me If You Can, my absolute favorite and one that I re-read every so often, I haven’t read this series in years.

  5. Kim August 19, 2016 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    I’m glad this got such a good review. I like the Chicago Stars series & am looking forward to reading this one.

  6. Blackjack1 August 19, 2016 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while and so I was very happy to wake up and read this review today!

  7. Nikki H August 20, 2016 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    I am so looking forward to reading this. This week Match Me If You Can is my favorite book, followed closely by Natural Born Charmer, but honestly, all the Chicago Stars books are fantastic. I’m on the list for it at the library but may go ahead and spring for the kindle edition. Love SEP.

  8. June August 27, 2016 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    It’s the usual SEP blend of funny situations, handsome jocks & reluctant relationships. The foreign prince is the one plot element that bothers me. Besides happy endings, romances ought not to let jerks benefit. On balance, I liked it.

  9. RichMissTallant August 28, 2016 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    I just finished this and I am…not happy with this book. I need a few minutes to gather my thoughts about it (may move this over to the “recently read” thread on the forum).

  10. Nina September 1, 2016 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    I just finished this last night and I’m kicking myself for the knee-jerk pre-order. SEP’s last couple of books should have been fair warning, but I keep hoping for a return to her great, quirky heroines and her emotional character arcs.

    The book starts off well enough, interesting heroine, typical Stars alpha-male hero, witty banter, etc.

    There are so many sub plots, however, that it’s hard to discern, much less focus on any one thing as _the_ plot for a bit, and the wind-up really comes out of the blue towards the end. None of the sub plots add to the story, and the largest one, the Middle Eastern Princesses sub plot, is offensive on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. When did SEP become so preachy and condescending? And what was up with that ham-handed scene meant to address misunderstandings between people of ethnic backgrounds and various age groups, especially when both the Korean character and the elderly lady character are caricatures of the stereotypes attributed to both those groups? Oy.

    All that’s bad enough, but there’s a non-consensual spanking scene that actually made me feel sick.

    I suspect this may be the author’s last book. I know it’s my last SEP purchase.

  11. Blackjack1 September 1, 2016 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    Hmm… I’m a little on edge for the moment when things take a downturn, but I have to say that at roughly page 120 I’m thoroughly enjoying this book. I love the heroine, and dare I say that she might be SEP’s best one yet so far. Also, no humiliation of either main character, which is such a mainstay in her books. I usually read the first third of an SEP book with one eye closed because of the humiliation of the heroine. That’s not the case here, and Piper is wonderful. I did though like SEP’s more recent books, including _Call me Irresistible_ and _Heroes Are My Weakness_, and so I haven’t been on a downturn yet with this particular author. I’ve actually been kind of grateful that after all these years she’s still writing. Anyway, I still have hundreds of pages left and so I’ll have to see in the end how I feel about this one.

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