FINAL DECISION: With two characters who have more in common than at first glance, this messy and sexy story with some mystery was really enjoyable.
THE STORY: Brett Rivers is a cutthroat sports agent known as “The River” who is devoted to his job when a costly mistake involving his top client puts his career at risk. Rory Garrett is struggling to launch her chocolate business after having a drunken misunderstanding with Brett that makes her feel like a failure yet again. But when an unexpected event happens involving Rory’s celebrity footballer brother and his ex-girlfriend, she and Brett reluctantly join forces, both wanting to find Rory’s brother – Rory to help her brother and Brett to save his career. Despite their mutual attraction, their differences threaten to undermine their goals…unless they can work together to unravel the mystery, confront their personal demons, and maybe even find an unlikely happy ending.
OPINION: Phillips’ latest Chicago Stars romance is classic SEP fun. Rory dreams of having her own chocolate shop, but she’s broke. Her half-brother Clint is a famous football player with a lot of money. Brett is Clint’s agent who helps manage his career. Rory and Brett don’t like each other at first. (Well, actually they kind of do, but I’ll leave that surprise for readers) But then something happens with Clint and the two have to work together.
As Rory and Brett spend more time together, they start to enjoy each other’s company. Rory is messy and disorganized but super creative. Brett is very organized and responsible. Opposites attract, and the chemistry between these two is hot. What I loved best is that as the book goes on, Brett is shown to be more of an emotional mess than expected and Rory has responsibility and maturity in different ways. This is not a true “enemies to lovers” but comes pretty close. Watching them go from antagonism to deep love is what SEP excels at. You just know they are perfect for each other even when they fight.
There are also some funny side stories with Rory’s stepmom Kristin. I loved that SEP did not make her a caricature as she first appeared.
This book has everything great about SEP’s writing: humor, steamy romance, interesting mystery, and characters who are at their core decent people. Rory and Brett have their flaws as humans but end up balancing each other out nicely.
WORTH MENTIONING: I want Clint’s book now. He’s much more interesting now with some darkness and baggage.
CONNECTED BOOKS: SIMPLY THE BEST is the tenth book in the Chicago Stars series. This book can be read as a standalone. While there are mentions and cameos from other characters in the series, they are limited, and there is no overarching plot. Brett works for Heath Champion, so we get some glimpses of Heath and Annabelle from MATCH ME IF YOU CAN (Chicago Stars book 6).
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.