Though this is the 1st book in the Chicago Stars series it was the about the 5th one I've read. That being said, the later stories are much better, imo, than the earlier ones, however, I do consider this to b a very good story but SEP does use the "characters psychologically and/or emotionally abused by their parents" trope WAY too much.
In IHTBY Phoebe Somerville, is the estranged daughter of the Star's team owner, returns home to attend her father's funeral and to take custody of her teenage half-sister, Molly, whose mother died several years earlier. Phoebe, beautiful like her Vegas showgirl mother, hides her pain & smarts behind a "blond bimbo" act worthy of Marilyn Monroe soon learns that her father has left her a challenge. Take charge of her father's football team for the rest of the year and if, by a miracle, they can win the AFC championship she'll retain permanent ownership of the team. If not, it'll revert to her childhood tormentor, her cousin, Reed, and Phoebe will be left with $100,000.
Besides knowing nothing about football, Phoebe is very afraid of large hulking men due to being raped 15 years ago by one of the long-ago team members. At first, Phoebe thinks if she just ignores the problem it'll resolve itself, but she is soon confronted by the team's head coach, the very sexy and irate, Dan Calebrow.
Dan, the one-time quarterback for the Star's, has his own emotional baggage. A victim of physical and emotional abuse Dan has come a long way but finds it hard to express his softer emotions and tends to yell in anger instead. Dan longs to settle down and have kids and thinks he should marry a June Cleaver type of woman who'll love kids and never hurt them. Yet sparks fly whenever Dan & Phoebe are together and before long they are helpless to resist one another.
This story has a great cast of secondary characters and the emotional journey both of the main characters undergo is very satisfying. I highly recommend this one.
Grade: B or 3.5 stars