Love between fighters

First Star I See Tonight: A Novel (Chicago Stars) - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Loved it, which is no surprise, since I love everything by this author.

Piper Dove is a private detective, broke but determined. Her current client hired her to follow Cooper Graham, a former professional football player and a current millionaire, and she would rather die than disappoint a client. Her entire career as a detective could be made or destroyed by this case.

Cooper is a recently-retired quarterback and a current night club owner. When he was active in sport, he was a star, famous and super rich. He is still rich and famous and driven to succeed in his new endeavor. The only hitch in his plans – some demented female has been following him for the past few days.

The story of these two different people learning to overcome their differences, learning to listen to their hearts and believe in their dreams, flows like a sweet, potent wine. At first, Piper’s sassy loyalty clashes with Cooper’s grim resolution to win at all costs. Neither would give an inch, but dangerous events keep happening around Cooper. Someone is out to get him. Hiring Piper as his own private investigator might be his only choice, if he wants to stay alive.

Love creeps uninvited on them both, as they are forced to work together to find the culprit. It takes a while for both protagonists to realize that mutual surrender might be their only way to winning their happily-ever-after.    

The romance and the mystery intertwine in this story, written with the author’s customary wit and courage. My only complaint: her sex scenes are too violent, but even that felt organic to the heroes’ personalities. Both are fighters to the end, so their every encounter felt more like a battle of minds and bodies than a cozy cuddle. Perhaps they needed to work through their conflicts and their fears to arrive at the harmony towards the end of the novel, but it was an engrossing read from the first to the last page.