Chicago Stars #9
July 5, 2022
Available in: Hardcover, Audio, e-Book, Trade Size (reprint)
When Stars Collide
#1 New York Times bestseller Susan Elizabeth Phillips returns to her beloved Chicago Stars series with a romance between a Chicago Stars quarterback and one of the world’s greatest opera singers—and a major diva.
“Re-entering the world of the Chicago Stars is like a beloved friend come to call.” — #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr
Thaddeus Walker Bowman Owens, the backup quarterback for the Chicago Stars, is a team player, talented sideline coach, occasional male underwear model, and a man with a low tolerance for Divas.
Olivia Shore, international opera superstar, is a driven diva with a passion for perfection, a craving for justice, too many secrets—and a monumental grudge against the egotistical, lowbrow jock she’s been stuck with.
It’s Mozart meets Monday Night Football as the temperamental soprano and stubborn jock embark on a nationwide tour promoting a luxury watch brand. Along the way, the combatants will engage in soul-searching and trash talk, backstage drama and, for sure, a quarterback pass. But they’ll also face trouble as threatening letters, haunting photographs, and a series of dangerous encounters complicate their lives. Is it the work of an overzealous fan or something more sinister?
This is the emotional journey of a brilliant woman whose career is everything and a talented man who’ll never be happy with second place. Tender and funny, passionate and insightful, this irresistible romantic adventure proves that anything can happen…when two superstars collide.
Originally published June 29, 2021 in hardcover by Wm Morrow. First time in trade paperback published July 5, 2022 by Avon Books. First time in mass market paperback coming January 23, 2023 by Avon Books.
EXCERPT from WHEN STARS COLLIDE
THE DIVA AND THE QUARTERBACK….
It’s Mozart meets Monday Night Football when two superstars collide.
Olivia Shore gazed out through the darkened window of the limousine toward the private jet parked on the tarmac. This was what her life had come to. Flying around the country with a brainless, overpaid jock and too many bad memories, all to hawk a luxury watch.
It was going to be the longest four weeks of her life.
Thad Walker Bowman Owens wasn’t entirely surprised Marchand Timepieces had come after him to promote their Victory780 watch. They needed a Chicago Stars’ player, and Thad gave good interviews. Also, that old Heisman trophy had garnered him plenty of publicity over the years. Still, anybody with eyeballs knew it wasn’t Thad’s throwing arm or glib rejoinders that had sealed the deal with Marchand. It was his pretty face.
“You’re even better looking than The Boo.” Cooper Graham had tweaked him the first time they’d met, referring to the great Stars quarterback, Dean Robillard.
Thad’s looks were a curse.
One of his favorite ex-girlfriends had told him: “You’ve got Liam Hemsworth’s nose, Michael B. Jordan’s cheekbones, and Zac Efron’s hair. As for those green eyes . . . Taylor Swift for sure. It’s like all the good-looking celebs in the world threw up on your face.”
Over the years, he’d done everything he could to roughen up his appearance. He’d grown a beard a couple of times, but then people started telling him he looked like the dude in Fifty Shades. He’d tried a porn-star mustache only to have women say he looked distinguished. He’d even gone for irony and sported one of those asinine man buns for a while. Unfortunately, it looked good on him.
In high school, everybody got pimples but him. He’d never needed braces or gone through an awkward phase. He hadn’t broken his nose or gotten one of the chin scars every other player in the League had. His hair wasn’t thinning. He didn’t have a paunch.
He blamed his parents.
But the one positive thing about his looks, along with his lean, six-foot-three body, was the extra cash it earned him. And he did like making money. Over the years, he’d lent his face to a men’s cologne, his butt to designer underwear, and his hair to some over-priced grooming products he’d never bothered to use. And now this.
If only he were doing this promotion with a female rock star instead of a stuck-up opera singer. The next four weeks stretched in front of him like an endless road headed exactly nowhere.
Olivia set aside her trench coat, along with the scarf and sun- glasses, and advanced toward the reporters who’d gathered in the hotel suite, her stilettos clicking, studiously ignoring him. Her sweep of dark hair coiled in one of those loose bun things, which—along with her royal-blue stilettos—brought her height to someplace in the vicinity of six feet. Her figure was formidable: broad shoulders, long neck, straight spine, and trim waist, all of it accompanied by skyscraper legs. She was neither skinny nor plump. More . . . Thad searched for the right word, but all he could come up with was “daunting.”
Along with her stilettos and black slacks, the open throat of her white blouse showed off a gold rope necklace with a pigeon egg–sized stone that appeared to be a giant ruby. She wore multiple rings, a couple of bracelets, and the Cavatina3 Marchand watch.
He liked his women small and cuddly. This one looked like a tigress who’d raided an Hermès store.
The male reporters rose as she approached. Henri Marchand performed the introductions. The Diva extended her hand and gazed down her long nose at them, her lips curved in a regal smile. “Gentlemen.” She acknowledged the lifestyle editor with a handshake and gracious smile before she folded herself into a chair across from Thad, her ankles crossed off to the side, a broomstick up her ass.
Thad deliberately slouched into his chair and stretched out his own legs, making himself comfortable.
The classical music critic led off, but instead of addressing The Diva, he turned to Thad. “Are you an opera fan?”
“Haven’t had much exposure,” he said.
The sports writer picked up on that. “What about you, Ms. Shore? Do you ever go to football games?”
“Last year I saw New Madrid play Manchester United.”
Thad could barely disguise a snort. The sports writer exchanged an amused look with him before turning back to her. “Those are European soccer teams, Ms. Shore, not American football.”
She adopted a girls will be girls look that Thad didn’t buy for a second. “Of course. How silly of me.”
There wasn’t anything silly about this woman, from the throaty resonance of her voice to her figure, and something told him she knew damn well they were soccer teams. Or maybe not. For the first time, she’d spiked his curiosity.
“So you’ve never seen Thad Owens play?”
“No.” She gazed directly at Thad for the first time, eyes as cold as a January night. “Have you ever heard me sing?”
“I haven’t had the pleasure,” he said with his best drawl. “But my thirty-seventh is coming up and I’d sure welcome a round of ‘Happy Birthday’ to mark the occasion.”
The lifestyle editor laughed, but The Diva didn’t crack a smile. “Duly noted.”
When the reporters had finally disappeared, Henri Marchand announced that Olivia’s and Thad’s luggage had been delivered to the bedrooms that adjoined opposite sides of the spacious suite. Henri gestured around the living area and dining areas, along with the small kitchen. “As you can see, this is quite convenient for interviews and tomorrow’s photo shoot. The chef will be making tonight’s clients’ dinner in the private kitchen.”
The Diva’s head shot up, and her dramatic eyebrows drew together. “Henri, may I speak with you.
“But, of course.” The two of them moved toward the door into the hallway.
Thad was pissed. The Diva obviously didn’t like the idea of them sharing the suite. Fine. She could move to another room. He wasn’t going anywhere.
WHEN STARS COLLIDE
The funny, irresistible romantic adventure of a brilliant woman whose career is everything and a talented man who’ll never be happy with second place.
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"RITA Award-winning and best-selling romance author Phillips’ latest virtuoso literary performance and new addition to her outstanding Chicago Stars series delivers a full score of irresistible delights. From savvy characterization, sassy humor, and sparkling dialogue to a smartly composed plot... this brilliantly conceived contemporary romance will have readers shouting, Brava!" -- Booklist (starred review)
“Captivating. The thrilling suspense plot and intoxicating chemistry will hook new readers and returning fans alike. This is a page-turner.” -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“If you’re a fan of opposites attract couples, forced proximity setups, and road tripping across the US, When Stars Collide will be a highly entertaining read for you. A not-to-miss new release from the one and only Susan Elizabeth Phillips.” -- HarlequinJunkie.com
“Fall into the addictive voice of Susan Elizabeth Phillips—compulsively readable and deeply satisfying!" -- #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr
“I always laugh my head off when I read Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ novels. She never fails to leave a smile on my face.” -- #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter