Dream a Little Dream (Chicago Stars Series #4)

Dream a Little Dream (Chicago Stars Series #4)

by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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A Desperate Young Mother

Rachel Stone's bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car's that's spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she's come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she'll do anything to keep her child safe—even take on. . .

A man With No Heart

Gabe Bonner wants to be left alone, especially by the beautiful outcast who's invaded his property. She has a ton of attitude, a talent for trouble, and a child who brings back bad memories. Yet Rachel's feisty spirit might just be heaven-sent to save a tough, stubborn man.

Dare To Dream

Welcome to Salvation, North Carolina—where a man who's forgotten what tenderness means meets a woman with nothing to lose. here two endearing lovers will set off on a funny, touching journey of the heart. . .to a place where dreams just might come true.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061793561
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Series: Chicago Stars Series , #4
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 33,479
File size: 963 KB

About the Author

Susan Elizabeth Phillips soared onto the New York Times bestseller list with Dream a Little Dream. She’s the only four-time recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Favorite Book of the Year Award. A resident of the Chicago suburbs, she is also a hiker, gardener, reader, wife, and mother of two grown sons.


Chicago, Illinois

Place of Birth:

Cincinnati, Ohio


B.F.A., Ohio University

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The last of Rachel Stone's luck ran out in front of the Pride of Carolina Drive-In. There on a mountainous two-lane blacktop road shimmering from the heat of the June afternoon, her old Chevy Impala gave its final death rattle.

She barely managed to pull off onto the shoulder before a plume of dark smoke rose from beneath the hood and obscured her vision. The car died right beneath the drive-in theater's yellow and purple starburst-shaped sign.

This final disaster was overwhelming. She folded her hands on top of the steering wheel, dropped her forehead on them, and gave in to the despair that had been nipping at her heels for three long years. Here on this two-lane highway, just outside the ironically named Salvation, North Carolina, she'd finally reached the end of her personal road to hell.


She wiped her eyes on her knuckles and lifted her head. "I thought you were asleep, honey."

"I was. But that bad sound waked me up."

She turned and gazed at her son, who had recently celebrated his fifth birthday, sitting in the backseat amidst the shabby bundles and boxes that held all their worldly possessions. The Impala's trunk was empty simply because it had been smashed in years ago and couldn't be opened.

Edward's cheek was creased where he'd been lying on it, and his light-brown hair stuck up at his cowlick. He was small for his age, too thin, and still pale from the recent bout with pneumonia that had threatened his life. She loved him with all her heart.

Now his solemn brown eyes regarded her over the head of Horse, the bedraggled stuffed lop-eared rabbit that had been his constant companion since he wasa toddler. "Did something bad happen again?"

Her lips felt stiff as she formed them into a reassuring smile. "A little car trouble, that's all."

"Are we gonna die?"

"No, honey. Of course we're not. Now why don't you get out and stretch your legs a little bit while I take a look. Just stay back from the road."

He clamped Horse's threadbare rabbit's ear between his teeth and climbed over a laundry basket filled with secondhand play clothes and a few old towels. His legs were thin, pale little sticks hinged with bony knees, and he had a small port-wine mark at the nape of his neck. It was one of her favorite places to kiss. She leaned over the back of the seat and helped him with the door, which functioned only a little better than the broken trunk.

Are we gonna die? How many times had he asked her that question recently? Never an outgoing child, these last few months had made him even more fearful, guarded, and old beyond his years.

She suspected he was hungry. The last filling meal she'd given him had been four hours ago: a withered orange, a carton of milk, and a jelly sandwich eaten at a roadside picnic table near Winston-Salem. What kind of mother couldn't feed her child better than that?

One who only had nine dollars and change left in her wallet. Nine dollars and change separating her from the end of the world.

She caught a glimpse of herself in the rearview mirror and remembered that she'd once been considered pretty. Now lines of strain bracketed her mouth and fanned out from the corners of green eyes that seemed to eat up her face. The freckled skin over her cheekbones was so pale and tightly stretched it looked as if it might split. She had no money for beauty salons, and her wild mane of curly auburn hair swirled like a tattered autumn leaf around her too-thin face. The only cosmetic she had left was the stub of a mocha-colored lipstick that lay at the bottom of her purse, and she hadn't bothered to use it in weeks. What was the point? Though she was twenty-seven, she felt like an old woman.

She glanced down at the sleeveless blue chambray dress that hung from her bony shoulders. The dress was faded, much too big, and she'd had to replace one of its six red buttons with a brown button after the original cracked. She'd told Edward she was making a fashion statement.

The Impala's door squealed in protest as she opened it, and when she stepped out onto the blacktop, she felt the heat radiating through the paper-thin soles of her worn white sandals. One of the straps had broken. She'd done her best to sew it back together, but the result had left a rough place that had rubbed the side of her big toe raw. It was a small pain compared with the larger one of trying to survive.

A pickup truck whizzed by but didn't stop. Her wild hair slapped her cheeks, and she used her forearm to push away the tangled strands, as well as to shield her eyes from the billow of dust the truck kicked up. She glanced over at Edward. He was standing beside the bushes with Horse tucked under his armpit and his head bent at a sharp angle so he could stare up at the yellow and purple starburst-shaped sign that soared above him like an exploding galaxy. Outlined in lightbulbs, it contained the words Pride of Carolina.

With a feeling of inevitability, she lifted the hood, then stepped back from the gust of black smoke billowing from the engine. The mechanic in Norfolk had warned her the engine was going to blow, and she knew this wasn't anything that could be fixed with duct tape or a junkyard part.

Dream a Little Dream. Copyright © by Susan Phillips. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Dream a Little Dream (Chicago Stars Series #4) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 123 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. What a great writer..!!!! I laughed, I cried, I don't think I've read anything that touched on all my emotions like this book did. This was my first book by Ms Phillips but definitely not my last..!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great book! I laughed and cried right along with the characters. I found it entertaining to read for pleasure, while at the same time it was inspiring me to be a stronger person that needs to appreciate all I do have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I stumbled upon author Susan Elizabeth Phillips and the Calebow/Tucker/Bonner group while choosing a contempary romance read for the commute home. I was happily surprised when I learned it was a series. The characters are well-developed into their own personalities and the interaction between each character is very real...at one point, I was just crying with sadness for Rachel and her plight -- the people on the train weren't as understanding! For those of you who like contemporary romance and tales of humanity, try this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She is one of my favourite authors. You can identify with the characters. the book was awesome. I will read anything of her she makes you laugh, cry, sad and built pictures of happily ever after. It feels like I know the bonner family!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my second book of Susan's that i read, and i must say it was amazing. Just like It had to be you. Both books captured the tourtured souls of a few people with truly good hearts. The stories are smooth and even have some humor wrapped up. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cried,laughed, and enjoyed this story. 290+ pages. Nobody gets killed! I really liked that.
mschweer432 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I really liked Rachael. She used humor to help her get through some really rough situations. I felt like SEP did a good job expressing what Gabe was going through. It was very sad. I really did enjoy this book and the only reason I gave it 4 1/2 stars instead of 5 was because it was just a little bit too sad for me. I have a hard time reading about children who are sick or die and I'm not sure if it's a subject I care to approach when I pick up a romance. However, I did really enjoy the book overall.
Darla on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I only got about 5 hours of sleep last night, and I hold SEP fully responsible. I was about halfway through Dream a Little Dream when I went to bed, and do you think she'd let up a little so I could go to sleep? No. She even... (and I really hate to admit this) made me cry. I haven't met the woman, though I've heard stories HERE and HERE, and maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but I didn't think she'd be the type to begrudge someone a few hours of sleep. Guess I was wrong.(yes, I'm silly this morning--I only got about 5 hours of sleep! Weren't you paying attention?)Anyway. The book. I was tearing up in the first 50 pages. What kind of sadist writes a little kid saying "Now, mommy? Are we going to die now?" God. And of course she had to go and make the characters compelling and interesting people that I really cared about.Rachel is the widow of a charlatan televangelist. She and her 5-year-old son are homeless, living in their car. She's made her way back to their hometown in search of the money her husband had left hidden, and finds that people there have long memories and are not inclined to forgive what's left of a man who betrayed them all.The only job she can find is helping angry recluse Gabe rebuild a drive-in movie theater. Gabe had lost his wife and son to a drunk driver two years before, and he wants nothing to do with a woman and child who remind him of what he's lost. Yet he can't bring himself to turn her away, particularly not when even his brother, the town's pastor, refuses to show her any compassion.It's an intense story of a man who's given up, and a woman who refuses to.There's just so much right with this story, I don't know where to begin. I normally don't like children in romances--they're almost never realistic with regard to their ages, and they tend to conveniently disappear for chapters at a time. That doesn't happen here. Rachel's son is a five-year-old boy for whom the only permanent thing in his life is his mother.Likewise, Rachel's desperation and determination, and Gabe's despair and buried anger are very real.And it doesn't stop there. The townspeople, most of them bitter and angry, yet professing themselves to be good Christians. Again, very real. And, surprisingly, they're not written as a criticism of religion--they're just human. Fallible, understandable.There's even a secondary romance, between Pastor Ethan and his long-time friend and secretary Kristy, and they both have to grow and change for it to work.I'm used to SEP's books being a little lighter--in the same way as Jennifer Crusie's: laughter over pain. Dream a Little Dream isn't like that. But it just proves what I've thought for a long time. Good writing is good writing, and almost always, if I like how an author writes one kind of book, I'll like how she writes another.
risadabomb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and I couldn't put it down. Rachel is a great leading lady and Gabe just made my heart soar. Well written and so entertaining.
dts1dbm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this was so good, i didnt want it to end. I hope she writes a continuation. I laughed, cried and smiled through out the book. Highly recommend
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PeniA More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story. Love the characters, especially Rachel. She is doing everything she can to survive and care for her son. She has to be strong and tough and fight for every inch, and yet she does so with an inherent dignity. The Bonner men and town people don't make it easy for her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You can always depend on SEP to give you a great story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
northamericanwordcat More than 1 year ago
A Classic  This book for me has been reread so many times it should be falling apart.  I almost always cry. I think the real close examination of loss of all kinds in this book is so well done. The characters aren't really likable most of the time but they do deserve love and forgiveness.  The family dynamics here weave a fuller story. I love that for once the dead wife wasn't an awful person.  There humor here shines brightly because of all the darker moments. Just like life.  The ache is big in this book and yes the epilogue is too sweet but I am somehow okay with that.  
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was perfect! Rachel was so strong and Gabe perfectly damaged that he was set just right for Rachel to fix him and him to set her life right, too. One of the best reads I've found in a loooooong time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago