by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
This one started out lighter and more fun than SEP’s previous book, Dance Away with Me. I was happy about that, even though I don’t mind a little darkness in my women’s fiction. Olivia Shore, a great opera diva, and Thad Owens, a second-string but respected and popular quarterback for the Chicago Stars, are thrown together for a month to promote a prestige watch brand throughout the country. Right away there is a mystery. Why does Olivia seem to hate Thad so much? Why is she so hostile? It turns out someone lied about him to her, and to SEP’s credit the truth is revealed pretty quickly with no “big misunderstanding” trope that is so overused in romances. From then on as they get to know and like each other, their relationship develops into strong attraction and then Love. A few mysteries emerge. Olivia is attacked and Olivia and Thad are briefly kidnapped. It seems they are being continually followed. Olivia keeps getting threatening notes.
We also learn early on that Olivia’s ex-fiancé committed suicide only 2 weeks before their promotional tour began and his sisters made a scene, blaming her, when she attended the funeral. This was a big disconnect for me. This juicy story was never latched on to by the tabloid press that they continually have to deal with, and she is never asked about it on their press tour. Although Olivia’s legendary voice has been affected by the trauma she otherwise never really acts like a woman justifiably ridden with paralyzing guilt. She dumped her fiancé a few days before their wedding causing his suicide. Only 2 weeks ago. I mean, that’s a pretty heavy burden to bear. But she is funny, goes on adventures, fights with Thad, flirts with him and his protégé, has fun, etc.
Although well-written with some really delightful passages and snarky sparring, this book never really took off for me until they got to Chicago, the last leg of their tour where Olivia is set to star in Aida. At this point, SEP starts to bring things together. Even more mysteries start to unfold. Why is her good friend and fellow diva Sarah giving her the cold shoulder? Will Olivia be able to pull off her role in Aida with her voice problems(Susan created some real suspense here)? Will Thad and Olivia be able to work out their relationship which has legitimate issues, not phony ones? The final answers are surprising, a little twisty, and totally believable. Susan did not take the obvious easy routes. I found this to be an uninspired 3-star book until a little over halfway through. From there on it was a solid 4 and a smidge stars. So 3 1/2 stars.
July 7, 2021