In Love with Football Romance – and It’s All Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Fault

Okay, I know this sounds a little un-American, but I have to admit it: I hate football. I hate the body-crushing violence; the eardrum-piercing noise; the astronomical salaries; and the national adulation of the sport. So you can imagine my surprise when, during a moment of reflection, I realized that some of my favorite romances are about football.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I blame Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Phillips could take a story about a man who spends his days making mud pies, and a woman who designs condominiums for snails, and turn it into a best-selling romance novel. In my case, she took something I truly can’t stand and created a series to which I’m hopelessly addicted.

Susan’s romance novels feature the Chicago Stars, a professional football team, and I was hooked from book number one, It Had to Be You. Phoebe Somerville maintains a façade of all glitz and no substance. Then she inherits the Chicago Stars. Once she starts going head-to-head with Coach Dan Calebow, the real Phoebe shines through, and the reason for her masquerade surfaces. As an added bonus, this book has one of the most gratifying revenge scenes you’ll ever read.

Although I adore the whole Chicago Stars series, I do have my favorites, namely Nobody’s Baby But Mine and Heaven, Texas.

Nobodys Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips smPhysicist Jane Darlington, the heroine of Nobody’s Baby But Mine, is a genius. Because of her super intelligence, she had an awful childhood, feeling like a stranger in a strange land. Jane decides that now is the best time to have that baby she wants, but she doesn’t want a relationship, and she definitely doesn’t want a child with an IQ as high as hers. Using fuzzy math logic and a firm belief in a bad stereotype, she determines the father of her child needs to be a “dumb jock.” That way, she figures, the infant’s IQ would average out to, well, average. Football star Cal Bonner seems to fit the bill perfectly. But after her successful seduction of the popular athlete, she discovers, much to her horror, that Cal is actually really, really smart.

Heaven Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips smIn Heaven, Texas, wallflower Gracie Snow, who’s spent her entire adult life working in a nursing home, is tapped to babysit bad boy, ex-football star, Bobby Tom Denton. Her assignment is to keep him out of trouble (and in one piece) until the movie he’s supposed to star in begins production. Of course, it’s easier to herd cats than keep Bobby Tom in line, but, much to everyone’s surprise—including hers—it actually looks as though she’s going to succeed. The trouble is, while she’s trying to make him behave more maturely, he’s trying to make her see that underneath the drabness, she’s a beautiful woman, and somewhere in the middle, they realize they’re perfect for each other.

If you haven’t already read Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Chicago Stars books, I highly recommend that you do. Here’s a rundown of the entire series in order, with brief descriptions of the titles that aren’t summarized above:

It Had to Be You (1994)

Heaven, Texas (1995)

Nobody’s Baby But Mine (1997)

Dream a Little Dream (1998)

Struggling single mom Rachel Stone, the pariah widow of an infamous, thieving televangelist, is given a much-needed second chance by former football player Gabe Bonner.

This Heart of Mine

Despite his own best efforts, quarterback Kevin Tucker falls for eccentric children’s book illustrator, creator of Daphne the Bunny, Molly Somerville.

Match Me If You Can (2005)

Annabelle Granger wants powerful sports agent Heath Champion as a high-profile customer to ensure the success of her matchmaking business.

Natural Born Charmer (2007)

When Blue Bailey moves to Colorado to be with her lover, she discovers that he’s moved on, with a younger woman. Blue’s only way forward seems to be with Dean Robillard, a quarterback who’s charming to everyone but her.

Other Authors

Once Susan Elizabeth Phillips convinced me that “football” and “good romance” could be used in the same sentence, I’ve broadened my reading choices to other books about the game. Just a few of my discoveries include:

Here I Am, by Rochelle Alers

The Homecoming, by Robyn CarrThe Homecoming by Robyn Carr

Hot Item, by Carly Phillips

The Matchmakers, by Debbie Macomber

Not Another Bad Date, by Rachel Gibson

The Sweet Spot, by Susan Mallery

And Gena Showalter’s Black and Blue, which gives football a paranormal twist.

So while the rest of the world yells and screams at the television set, I’ll be sitting in my comfy chair reading a football romance.

Thank you, Susan Elizabeth Phillips.



About the Author:

Shelley Mosley has been a reviewer for Booklist for more than ten years. She has co-authored Romance Today: An A-to-Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance Writers (2006); The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Ultimate Reading List (2007) with John Charles. Her other writing includes a book about the suffragists and two books on library management.

1 Comment on "In Love with Football Romance – and It’s All Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Fault"

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  1.' laura says:

    I totally agree — I hate football but I love the Chicago Stars. Just a little thing: I don’t think Gabe Bonner ever played football. He was a veterinarian before Cherry died. His brother Cal is the former football player. (And I’m off to bow before my SEP shrine.)

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