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If Forever Comes (Take This Regret, #2)
A.L. Jackson
Heaven, Texas - Susan Elizabeth Phillips 3 starsThis second book in the Chicago Stars series definitely had its moments. While Gracie's character took some warming up to (the frumpy thirty-year-old ingenue routine was tedious), and I struggled at various points throughout the book with Bobby Tom's selfish, superficial nature and entitlement issues, there were many points along their way that worked nicely for me. I wish we'd had more moments like the third wheel date, because that was a riot, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching B.T. slowly start to fall for Gracie, even though he was utterly oblivious to it. Most of the middle of the book charmed me, and I think Susan Elizabeth Phillips did a great job with the relationship evolution. I was particularly pleased that Gracie never did take any guff from B.T. (until, unfortunately, the end), instead showing a witty sort of grit as she pays him back when he went too far over the line. Despite the annoyingly prim demeanor at the beginning, she did display quite a bit of backbone in places and grew on me because of that.Unfortunately, I had some significant problems with the last 15% of the book. I had thought, as I was reading, that Gracie had grown in confidence and her self esteem was evolving after her makeover, given how well she dealt with her emotions and all of Bobby Tom's hijinks through most of the book. Then she finds out about the Big Betrayal and she's back to being a total frump, a shattered shell, with no backbone or self esteem. I was confused by her reaction and intensely disappointed by her lack of growth and the apparent ease in which she was stripped of any feelings of worth, all of which seemed grossly against character. Not to mention, Phillips missed several opportunities to make a more substantive statement about the value of a woman's self esteem over superficiality.The football quiz conclusion was ridiculous and didn't match the tone of the previous events. I felt it was a misplaced and heavy-handed attempt to put the book back on lighter footing for the obligatory happy ending. Perhaps if there had been an epilogue, giving readers a bit of a time buffer before introducing it, it would have been more successful but as it was, it fell flat for me. In fact, so much of the goings on in the last two chapters of this book bothered me that I was left feeling like Heaven, Texas missed a lot of opportunities to be a thoroughly entertaining romance, regardless of how much I enjoyed sections of it.