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Graphic Designer, painter, dreamer, fashion addict, unhealthy obsession with shoes and jewelry. Film lover and oh yes....books! :D
Natural Born Charmer - Susan Elizabeth Phillips 3.5 stars

This one is a hard one to rate. I liked it, loved some parts but overall wanted more. I wasn't in love with the overall story.

Dean Robillard is Chicago Stars' quarterback who has everything going for him, a successful football career, great looks, a modeling career but the fame-glory lifestyle is starting to wear thin on him. He buys a farm in Tennessee and he decides to get away from real life by taking a road trip to visit the farmland he bought. On his way there he runs into an interesting 'beaver' on the side of the road who's on a mission of her own. Blue Bailey is an artist who's never settled down for anybody and is on a mission to make her ex pay for scamming her and uprooting her life just for him. On her way there she finds herself in a beaver suite on the side of the road stranded and a gorgeous famous football player offering her a ride.

I've said it before and it bares repeating I like the fact that SEP doesn't write one-dimentional cookie cutter heroines. You have to give it to her for writing unique one-of-a-kind women who are relatable in many ways. I always admire her for doing that. As for the heroine in this Blue Bailey, I wasn't sure what to make of her from her introduction in the beginning to be honest. She came off 'meh' for me. She is very free-spirited, independent woman with enough sarcasm and wisecracks to last her a lifetime. She's quite colorful and there were things I liked about her. She has a 'drifter' life and has never settled down in one place for more than a few months and tries to make a living on the portraits and murals she paints. I liked her spirit and how she didn't let anybody walk all over her (except for her mother at times) plus she has a stubborn streak a mile wide. But I did feel at times though her stubborn-headedness and being a smart-ass got in the way and just dragged things out. And I don't know but sometimes her "I don't care" demeanor and constant wisecracks made her come off more like a rebellious teenager than a thirty-year old woman. It was weird. Especially her introduction in the story she came off very much like a lost teenager trying to find her way, a total drifter. It kept throwing me off because I struggled to picture her as a 30 year old woman. I'm not sure if that was SEP's intention or not. It's safe to say Blue had a lot of self-discovery and growing up to do and I wasn't sure if I could buy her loving Dean enough. The build up and foundation for it was missing and shaky at most.

My biggest question mark and hold up on this book was at times I wasn't convinced Blue and Dean belonged together, and I think it has more to do with the story focusing more on Dean's family drama and his parents own side story then their own sort-of 'relationship'. Oh they had plenty of arguments filled with snark and comebacks but it took a while for me to see any sexual chemistry between them. I don't think the author spent enough time on that part. Only showed Dean curious about her and Blue secretly lusting after him but it just came off meh. Been there done that type of thing. Plus I felt cheated and frustrated more than once when all they would share was a heated kiss here, a fondle there and a 'love scene' that literally lasted one page and a quick FTB. Had me going 'that's it??'. Total WTF moment for me. You can't build something like that up then cut away. If it wasn't for the few sexcapades later on I would have been sorely pissed. lol Hey I'm not ashamed to admit I don't like it when authors are stingy on the love scenes. Although I loved the hiking scene and the 'frisking' by the waterfall. *fans self*

Anyways through more than half of the book Dean of course being Dean treats Blue like a best friend with benefits and Blue tries to put on the 'it's just sex I don't care' facade that got tiring after a while cause it was total BS. It's frustrating because I loved Dean from his introduction in the previous book, he's a real character and total charmer and so much fun. He puts on the charmer facade but he's smart and sweet and has so much hilarious whit. And yes he is arrogant and sometimes clueless but I loved him nonetheless. He reminded me a lot of Bobby Tom (book 2) and Kevin Tucker (book 5) there were a lot of similarities, the good looking guy who could get any woman he wanted, had the world served to him on a silver platter yet took a while to realize he's fallen in love with the woman right in front of him. But Dean had that sweet charm and thoughtful disposition that the other two guys didn't, he knows when he's full of shit or rude and calls himself on it. All his actions are sincere and genuine which I really liked plus it didn't take him so freaking long to realize he's in love. lol Which is why I thought he needed to snag a real special woman to fall in love with and here I kept questioning and not completely sold that Blue was it. At the end SEP pretty much forced me to go 'okay that's cute' but through most of the book it was a different story. The ending was great and it tied up a lot of things that were left unsettled but the constant 180's between Dean and Blue especially in the last few chapters gave me whiplash. They had major trust issues between the two it kept getting flung back at one another where they would get in a screaming match then two seconds later start laughing and kissing. HUH? I didn't blame Dean for testing Blue, given her track record of bailing and not believing in love I couldn't fault him for standing firm. It was interesting to see how it all played out they really showed their love for one another at the end, I just wish this was shown more through the book and not shoved near the end.

Another thing I enjoyed was Dean's family. I loved seeing Dean's family play into this and work out their problems and become a family again. The family drama and their dynamics to how they would relax and have fun by dancing was really sweet. It was a link to forgiving and embracing each other which was really nice. I thought it was really sweet and a lot of open wounds and dark pasts came to surface which I liked. I at times felt more enthralled and interested in April and Jack's story then I did with Dean and Blue. There was that tension, angst and unresolved feelings just floating at the surface. It made it believable and so real. Something I felt that was missing between Blue and Dean. They went from 'fuck me' partners and pals to I'm in love with you, with no small build up in between. It just felt disjointed and little all over the place. Again I think the overall plot of the story, focusing on Dean's past and his drama with his estranged mother and rock-star dad played into that. SEP payed a lot of attention to the family and all the problems that needed to be resolved which I liked, I just wish she spent more time on Dean and Blue. I just felt there was a lot more that could have been explored with those two that wasn't or was just glossed over in summaries & descriptions of what what happened which to me doesn't count. I want action, actual dialogue not descriptions glossed over in a few sentences.

All in all I thought the characters surrounding Dean and Blue were enjoyable and so enthralling. What a colorful bunch. I loved all of them and how they interacted. The dynamic between all of them was really great and hysterical especially during the dinner gatherings. Jack Patriot was an interesting character who had a lot of faults and things to make up for in the beginning. He's a famous rock singer who happens to be Dean's father but Dean has wanted nothing to do with him since he was a kid. I wasn't a fan of Jack in the beginning, he was too self-involved, careless, obsessed with his career and oblivious to the one child he didn't give up, Riley. I loved seeing his strained awkward relationship with this daughter Riley blossom and grow. They were too sweet for words. By the end of the book I came to really like Jack and was rooting for him to get his family back and win April back. There were a lot of significant scenes between him and Riley that broke my heart and made me want to cry. Riley made me want to give her a hug. I adored that girl so much and felt for her. For someone so young and unsure of herself she was incredibly brave and smart considering the lengths she went to just find her older brother Dean. She's an 11 year old girl who just wants to be loved for herself and was pretty much neglected, ignored and misused all her life by her famous rocker father who was too busy to spend time with her and a self-indulgent selfish mother who tried to guilt her daughter into losing weight. Not a lot of positive stable role models in her life. It was great to see her interact and come out of her shell around Blue Dean and April. I especially wanted her to grow closer to Dean and Dean be the brother figure she always wanted. I at times felt that too was glossed over as well. It was obvious Dean was uncomfortable around her and didn't know how to be a big brother but I wish SEP gave me more scenes of those two bonding and him actually looking at the scrapbook she put together for him while she was growing up. I think that scrapbook was very significant and held a lot of meaning yet Dean just brushed it aside and it was never brought up again. Bummer.

Overall I enjoyed the book, the characters made up for other things that I thought fell short and Dean was lovable as ever. The ending and epilogue once again made me smile so overall good book just wish it didn't leave me so unsure and whatever about it.