Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Perfect Ten: ONE MORE TIME

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ONE MORE TIME – Claire Cross
A Perfect 10
The Coxwells, Book 3
Berkley Sensation (Trade Paperback)
ISBN: 0-425-21198-3
November 2006
Contemporary Romance

If we judged a book by its cover, then anyone would say that Leslie and Matt Coxwell had it all. Perfect jobs they loved, a decent teenaged kid, Annette, a quaint little house that was neither too little nor too big, and…each other. But if somebody decided to look past the pretty picture of this perfect family, that’s when the pages start to turn brittle.

Matt never wanted to be a district attorney and is tired of dancing to his father’s tune while receding into his brother’s shadow. After losing -- intentionally -- a big case that would have gone a long way in making Coxwell & Coxwell the premiere law firm to go to, Matt’s life changes drastically. He can’t believe that his wife never knew he wanted out of this career he never chose. As a Coxwell son, it was expected that he go to law school, and as a good son, he did what he was told. There’s only one path left to follow, leave Leslie, fly to New Orleans, bail his hell-bent younger brother out of jail, and reconnect with his ex-fiancée, Sharan.

Leslie, a.k.a. Crabcake Coxwell, the Attila the Hun of all medieval history professors, hates her job. Oh, she’ll keep her lips zipped and continue on as any good wife and mother would do in the face of adversity. But with Matt’s leaving for places better left unmentioned, she has no choice but to continue her work at the college, despite the fact that she hates that her boss is making the school curriculum a laughing joke in university education. Just exactly how she’ll keep herself and her daughter together in the wake of Matt’s departure remains to be seen, though. It’s going to take more than a good La Perla bra to straighten out Leslie’s marriage and life.

For anyone who has been paying attention, it’s obvious where these two headstrong individuals went wrong -- communication, or lack thereof. And honestly, mix in a little bit of conversation early in the game and there wouldn’t have been ONE MORE TIME. Leslie and Matt, college lovers who never imagined that they’d make it this far, may have been as alike as polyester and satin, but that was the beauty of their relationship. As a college teen, Leslie, a modern day bluestocking who simply loved studying and learning, was astounded the day Matt asked her out to coffee. Even more flabbergasted, Matt had trouble believing that he couldn’t get Leslie out of his mind. To this day, even with a teenage daughter, they’re still together. Leslie’s still head over heels in love with Matt, and Matt thinks that Leslie hung the moon. So what happened? Instead of basking in what was supposed to be Matt’s success in winning this ultra-high pressure case, Leslie has no idea what made him toss the coin and throw it all away, including her and Annette. How can a man just up and leave the ones who love him best…?

Many secrets will be uncovered and truths revealed in Claire Cross’s ONE MORE TIME, a contemporary romance told from several points of view. A book that will probably make my top ten reading list of 2006, ONE MORE TIME shines with realistic characters who are going through very real problems. The writing and structure is dead-on perfect. Ms. Cross takes extreme care with Leslie and Matt, a couple who obviously still love each other, and not only gives the reader their history in many flashbacks to their courtship, but shows the reader what is going on in their individual lives that, of course, they cannot show to each other.

Fans of Claire Cross’s Coxwells series will be happy to see Matt have his own story, and newcomers will be glad to know that reading the series in order is not mandatory. But if you must, the order is: THIRD TIME LUCKY, DOUBLE TROUBLE, and ONE MORE TIME. ALL OR NOTHING waits in the wings for release next April.

ONE MORE TIME is both realistic and lovely, and definitely deserves a nod from this reviewer for a Perfect 10 rating. Fall in love all over again…

Amy Cunningham
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