Reviewed by Tori
“I think I preferred it when you were in love with me.”
“Sorry. My meds finally kicked in.”
Piper Dove is giving her all to make her family’s business, Dove Investigations, the best agency in the Chicago. Her first job? To shadow retired Chicago Stars quarterback, Cooper Graham. Unfortunately, Cooper has made her despite her numerous disguises and now he wants to know who hired her or he’s siccing his lawyers on her.
Cooper Graham is at the height of his success. Smart enough to retire from the Chicago Stars before he suffered any real damage, he now owns and operates one of the hottest nightclubs in Chicago. Currently looking for an investor to help take him take his clubs nationwide, the last thing he needs is any trouble in the form of a pint-sized crazy person.
Piper refuses to name her client but offers some insight into some of his employees, convincing Cooper he can trust her and he makes her an offer she can’t refuse. A job to help him clean up his nightclub. From social media guru to bodyguard to savior of servants, Piper is a one woman show, much to Cooper’s dismay.
When real trouble begins to stalk Cooper, Piper’s determination to save Cooper becomes a problem…because who is going to save Piper’s heart from Cooper?
First Star I See Tonight is the eighth installment in Phillip’s best selling Chicago Stars series. This standalone brims with laughter, insanity, and an enchanting antagonistic romance. Phillips captures the very essence of two people whose extreme competitiveness causes some very interesting dilemmas. Add in a plethora of dynamic individualized characters and a couple of subplots that weave in and out like a seasoned Nascar driver, you have a story that shines. While I haven’t been particularly fond of her last few books, Phillips has definitely rediscovered her groove and the spark that has always made her stories so much damn fun to read.
“I’m not full-out barmy, you understand. Just…mildly unhinged.”
Well written with an abundance of personality and charm; you are immediately drawn into the story. The strategic plotlines and flawed characters effortlessly entertains and delights. A firm conversational style dialogue keeps the book flowing smoothly (and you laughing) as Piper and Cooper bicker, fuss, and fight their way to true love.
“I doubt you’re ever in the mood to listen.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Her frustration got the best of her. “You’re so used to feeling superior that you’ve forgotten that there are people who might know something you don’t.”
One of his big, competent hands landed on the blade of his hip. “What’s you deal anyway? Do you feel like such a failure you need to attack anyone who’s successful?”
“No. Maybe. I don’t know. Fuck you.”
Piper Dove has to be one of Phillip’s most spirited and entertaining heroines to date. Defiant with her chaotic lifestyle and ability to take life by the horns, I was pleased to see the quintessential humiliation theme that is often a mainstay in Phillip’s stories was not in evidence. Raised by her father after her mother was the victim of a deadly crime, Piper was forced to adopt the dual role of son and daughter. He raised her to be strong, stoic, and deadly while having to take over the cooking, cleaning and other feminine roles of the household. He made her a part of Dove Investigations but refused to allow her to take a more active role in the investigations. In his effort to protect her, he completely smothered her. When he passed away, he left the family business to Piper’s step mother, forcing Piper to drain her life savings to purchase the business back. Now the owner, Piper is struggling to bring it back to it’s former glory after her step mother ran it to the ground.
Snarky, intelligent, and more than able to handle herself be it with a gun, self defense skills, or her mouth, Piper had me laughing from page one. A born protector, Piper will always jump head first into the fray for whoever she feels needs her help. And she is convinced Cooper needs her help.
“You’re walking a fine line here.”
“I want build a business based on people having a good time, not killing themselves.”
“Every thought about miniature golf?”
Cooper Graham is equally amusing with his larger than life celebrity personae that contrasts perfectly with his down home, sweetly gruff personality. An alpha hero with a strong sense of self and integrity, he matches Piper in snark, wit, and protectiveness. A thin vein of vulnerability and his need to remain connected to his family roots through terrace gardening gives him a realistic vibe as he keeps his feet firmly planted on terra firma.
He’d always like growing things […] Out her, he’d been able to forget the adrenaline rush of being in control of the whole savage ballet that made up an NFL game.
The chemistry between Piper and Cooper begins as a small flame that slowly grows into a blazing inferno. Their foreplay consists of comedic antagonism and witty repartee. Emotionally, this couple needs the slow build that Phillips provides. Piper’s childhood left her emotionally stunted and constantly feeling the need to prove herself. She doesn’t trust the concept of love. Cooper’s fame is the barometer in his relationships. He is never really sure if he or his stardom is what attracts women to him. And most of the time, it’s proven it’s his fame. He wants Piper but knows he will have to tread very carefully if he wants to keep her.
“I don’t want to talk to him!”
“I understand. But this is a negotiation.”
“I hope you choke on your blood vegetables!”
The romance blends well with the main conflict. A myriad of seemingly random subplots contribute the rising strength of the conflict as Phillip’s uses Piper’s and Cooper’s sense of competitiveness to for the rights of a foreign servant, help a young girl gain some street cred, and discover who is trying to destroy Cooper and his nightclub. As Piper gets closer to the truth and the end of her time with Cooper, she is forced to look deep inside herself and examine the reasons for her impulsive actions and inability to trust Cooper.
The only issues I had with this story was the very end. The main hurdle in Piper’s and Cooper’s romantic journey was rather disjointed and not as cohesive as the rest of the story. Interacting with a few familiar faces from previous books helps to draw it all together but I found the path Phillip’s uses to confront and relieve Piper of her romantic misgivings odd even for this couple.
Regardless, First Star I See Tonight is the classic SEP I fell in love with and fans will delight in this amusing romance between two solitary people who find one another other and make their greatest wish come true.