Thursday, January 22, 2009

Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips ***

I'm doing a full re-listen to the Chicago Stars series, but Heaven, Texas, is really my least favorite of the series, so even though I love the series as a whole, this one is just an ok listen.

The Chicago Stars is a fictional NFL team, owned by Phoebe and Dan Calebow from book 1, It Had To Be You. We met Bobby Tom Denton, wide receiver, in that book, where he was a young man on the way up. In Heaven, Texas, unfortunately Bobby Tom suffered a career-ending knee injury at the Super Bowl, and is now trying to find himself, after football. He signs a contract to star in a movie, with a contingency that the movie be filmed in his home town, Telarosa, Texas. The town is so excited they schedule a festival, with the home Bobby Tom grew up in as a focal point to bring in tourists.

Gracie Snow was hired as a production assistant by Willow, who runs the production company. Willow's parents were at the nursing home run by Gracie's parents (and then by Gracie) - Willow decided Gracie had the skills to get Bobby Tom to the location - something he'd been successfully avoiding, causing lots of delays and money lost. Gracie is a sort of ugly duckling - bad hair, no fashion sense, not very confident of her looks but trying her best to be professional. Too bad when she shows up at Bobby Tom's house, his guests mistake her for a hired stripper (the last one was dressed as a nun, so I guess her out-of-date business attire qualified).

That one scene makes me grit my teeth every time. If you're a Bobby Tom fan, you probably find it funny that he recognizes she isn't a stripper but still makes her go partway through with the act before taking her inside. But I just found it teeth-grinding. OK, the "football quiz" part is amusing, and sets up how Bobby Tom keeps women on the line, sorta. It sure does make it seem as if every single woman he knows except Gracie is dumber than a post - does any one of them actually think he'll marry whoever passes this quiz??

Gracie uses her wiles to finally convince BT to head towards Texas, but he manages to make it a long, long road trip, in which we learn that BT is a soft touch for everyone who asks for a handout, worthy or no. Gracie does 2 things on the road trip: (1) falls in love with him and (2) determines never, never, never, never to take anything from him, only to give. In the most stubborn, mulish way possible. BT, mind you, is pretty oblivious to anything about Gracie except how convenient it is to use her as way to distance himself from needy women.

Once they finally arrive in Texas, Willow fires Gracie for failing to bring BT in on time. BT finds out, and behind Gracie's back, pays the production company to keep her on as his personal assistant. See, this will blow up in his face, because Gracie has vowed to never, never, never, never take anything from him. So just wait for that powder keg moment.

Eventually BT and Gracie do the horizontal mambo - but you know what? I really disliked BT's POV on this. He does it, he believes, because he feels he should be the one to introduce her to sex. Does he feel anything for her? Well, if he does, he sure didn't show it to her or me with his words and actions. Still, we're all kept amused with his antics.

There's a secondary romance between BT's widowed mother Susie and Way. This time, this relationship bothered me more than usual. When I listened to this part this time, I felt Susie's attitude was really twisted - she still continued to think of Way as the teen delinquent, but slept with him, seemingly reluctantly, theoretically to save the town. It was so wrong in so many ways, even though eventually she admits her feelings. He led her to believe he intended to use her, and she let him. I dunno, this time it seemed wrong, although I don't recall feeling that way the first (several) times I listened to it.

The scene where BT finally realizes he loves Gracie was the most squirm-worthy for me this time. But it's mostly Gracie's fault, in my opinion. That whole weird "never, never, never, never take" position just isn't flexible enough. Personally, if a man wanted me to change my hair and makeup and offered to pay for the makeover, I'm all over that - he SHOULD pay, especially when he's rich and I'm not. I just couldn't get into her head for that. So when she overreacted to finding out who was footing the bill, and BT made his grand gesture of love (waaaay too late and public, mind you), they were both publicly made fools.

Still and all, as much as these things bother me (some every time, some more this time), silly me, I'm such a fan of the narrator Anna Fields and the author that I just put it in the lineup for every series re-listen anyway. Go figure. 3 stars.

1 comment:

Cindy W said...

I didn't like this one either. Bobby Tom got on my nerves!