Monday, October 24, 2016

Book Review: First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

First Star I See Tonight Cover Review of Audiobook

First Star I See Tonight (Chicago Stars #8) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: June 27, 2017
Publisher: HarperAudio; Unabridged edition
Length: 9 CDs
Source: Library
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry

I listened to the audiobook version of this book. The narrator, Nicole Poole, is truly outstanding. She does male and female voices of all ages extremely well.

Piper Dove recently purchased from her stepmother, at an unreasonably exorbitant price, the PI agency that belonged to her newly deceased father. He raised her, as an only child, as if she were his son and his clone. She was never to complain or cry over anything bad that happened to her, and he trained her to be extremely well versed in every form of self-defense, including firearms, because her mother was murdered when she was a child, and he wanted her to be able to survive any threat. However, in his drive to keep her safe, he refused to support her dream to follow in his footsteps and be a PI like him, because it is sometimes a dangerous profession. Thus, with extreme frustration, until this moment, she has worked for years as a website designer. Nearly broke and desperate to establish herself as a hotshot PI, she is delighted and massively relieved when she snags a major coup of an assignment from a very rich businesswoman, which comes with the promise that, if she succeeds, that this woman will offer many more equally lucrative assignments in the future. Piper is to follow retired football star, Cooper Graham, all over their home town of Chicago, learning everything about his personal integrity because the rich businesswoman is contemplating investing in an expansion of Cooper's local, trendy nightclub into a chain of similar nightclubs around the country. Unfortunately for Piper, in spite of her great ingenuity employing multiple disguises, Cooper is much too observant. He recognizes her as the same person he has seen in his wake all over town. He confronts her and threatens to report her to the police as a stalker.

I was personally disappointed that, once again, SEP has opted in this book to avoid doing what she most excels at, a main plot of romantic comedy with snappy repartee, and a subplot based on a down-and-out, alienated, spunky heroine forming wonderful, warm-hearted relationships with former friends or strangers who start out resenting or even outright disliking her, but who ultimately evolve into forming with the heroine a close, loving, family of affiliation. Instead, as she has the last couple of books, SEP has once again opted to venture into the murky waters of romantic suspense, which is not her forte, and not what her fans most enjoy.

Having said all that, however, I freely admit that SEP is so talented that, no matter what she writes, her romance novels are better than 80% of contemporary romance writers out there, either indie or mainstream. However, when she opts to play to her strengths, she is capable of writing within the top 99-percentile. My question is, why write at B-minus level when you are capable of writing at A-plus level?

I hope very much that in the future she chooses to return to her strengths once again.

I rate this book as follows:

Heroine: 3

Hero: 3

Subcharacters: 3

Romance Plot: 4

Suspense Plot: 3

Subcharacters: 3

Rescue Subplot: 3

Epilogue: 3

Overall Writing: 4

Narration of Audiobook: 5

Overall: 3.5 rounded to 4