cover image First Star I See Tonight

First Star I See Tonight

Susan Elizabeth Phillips, read by Nicole Poole. HarperAudio, , unabridged, 9 CDs, 10 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 978-0-06-256036-0

The latest book in romance writer Phillips’s Chicago Stars series displays her knack for creating likable leads with an abundance of chemistry. In this case, the reluctant romantics are retired Stars quarterback Cooper Graham, who’s hoping to parlay his popular nightclub, Spiral, into a national chain, and Piper Dove, an ambitious private detective hired to tail Cooper, but when he spots her, the client drops Piper, leaving her at poverty’s doorstep. Piper uses her observation of a Spiral bartender’s thievery to convince Cooper to hire her to keep an eye on the club’s employees. Criminal elements build up, including an intriguing whodunit, but the main delights come not from mystery but from the sly ways Phillips pulls her convincingly human lovers apart and draws them together again. Reader Poole doesn’t settle for superficial performances. Her Piper speaks with a snarky attitude that doesn’t quite mask an underlying quaver of uncertainty. Cooper, for all his throaty bravado, can’t resist a softer voice when he’s one-on-one with Piper. Her sprightly rendition of the novel neatly matches the highs and lows of the duo’s on-again/off-again affair. A Morrow hardcover. (Aug.)