Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips Release Date: April 1, 1995 Publisher: Avon Book #2 in the Chicago Stars series Number of pages: 384 Kindle Edition Source: MCL Contemporary Romance M/F Rating: NC-17 Read 2/7/17
Before I go off on a tangent about my love/hate feelings toward Bobby Tom, I have to admit that I was really happy that the first time he met Gracie he found things about her attractive. Most of his issues with her were in the way she dressed and wore her hair. And before I also go off about the way Gracie viewed herself; let me say that she FINALLY sees clearly by the end of the story.
Bobby Tom. What can I say? The author did such a good job with this character because, as the reader, I felt the same way the people in the book felt. For some reason, the man could get away with anything. One minute I was falling in love with his giving nature and feeling protective of him when others tried to take advantage of him. The next I would want to ring his neck for his macho male chauvinistic views. He had thoughts about wanting to thank guys for being so nice to Gracie since in his mind she’s just a boring wallflower. He constantly thinks about her not being his type since his type seems to be fake blonde bimbos with huge fake books and no brains. Somehow in his mind that makes Gracie lesser. Ugh! I wanted to beat him!!! He was actually so much smarter than he let on in so many ways; yet he was still a teenager when it came to his emotional age.
Gracie made it easier for Bobby Tom to feel and think this way because it was truly how she viewed herself! I’m sure it didn’t help that her mom seemed to fan the flames of Gracie looking down on herself her whole life. And then the way people in Bobby Tom’s life reacted to her. I know it wasn’t because they were trying to be mean (well, maybe some of them were), but they had come to expect him to be with a totally different type of woman.
There is also a character that has a storyline with Bobby Tom’s mom, Suzy. He’s the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks that grew up to be rich and now run the town’s biggest employer. Not only did some aspects of Gracie’s story have me flat-out crying, but so did they guy, Way’s. Plus, there is a whole thing of Suzy and Bobby Tom trying to find the “right” way of dealing with Bobby Tom’s dad’s death. It was really well put together and the scenes with Suzy and Way were fraught with tension and heartbreak.
I really hated how the town took advantage of Bobby Tom and didn’t even see that what they were doing was wrong. Although I loved that Bobby Tom was so adamant about owing them and not saying anything. He was misguided, to be sure, but it was sweet. They were all a bit crazy and that made it fun. Especially a huge scene at the end that was full of tons of fun and laughs. As the author wrote regarding Gracie’s thoughts at one point, “It reminded her that most of the citizens of Telarosa, Texas would be considered certifiably crazy if they lived anywhere else.”
I’m really glad I picked up this series. Even with the first books being written over 20 years ago, they hold up. Still, there are issues with the way women are treated and the smoking in public places that seem odd. But the story is enough to help me forget those things. In this case, Bobby Tom’s treatment of Gracie at times bothered me enough to knock down my rating a half a star. That’s because I think even in 1995 I would have thought he was a bit much.