Saturday, May 03, 2008

REVIEW: All or Nothing by Claire Cross

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Straight Romance
PAGES: 372
SERIES: Coxwell family series

REASON FOR READING: I read and enjoyed one of her previous books, Double Trouble. In fact, it was a keeper for me. OK, I admit it, I also loved the dog on the cover.

Jen Maitland never had any use for handsome guys with easy charm until she met Zach. He's the perfect fake date to end her mother's matchmaking scheme before it starts. The only problem is that Zach isn't as predictable as he appears...

Zach Coxwell hates commitment, but loves a challenge. Like the pretty bar waitress who turned him down flat for a date-only to invite him to her family's Thanksgiving dinner. Zach knows he can make Jen smile, and he's betting that he can unravel her mysteries.

Despite Thanksgiving dinner becoming a familial nightmare for Jen, Zach has the time of his life and finds that Jen may be worth a commitment after all-even if he has to convince her by any means necessary.
Both Jen and Zach have serious issues but AoN manages to avoid sinking the reader into a dark depression by dealing with them in a realistic and yet upbeat way. Although Jen is young she is a breast cancer survivor. Naturally this fact has had a profound effect on her and she finds herself unable to make any long term commitments because she's afraid she has no future.

Jen's family loves her and wants to see her happy. Her matchmaking mother is determined to set her up on a date unless she finds one herself for Thanksgiving dinner. Her plan is to bring someone she knows her mother will hate. Jen meets Zach at the restaurant where she waits tables and figures he fits her requirements perfectly. So she invites Zach to Thanksgiving dinner for a 'fake' date.

Zach has serious commitments issues of his own, so a 'fake' date sounds fine to him. Zach is the black sheep of a wealthy family and was wild and reckless in his youth. He did some pretty bad things (some involving illegal drugs) and when his father committed suicide, he blamed himself.

The relationship between Jen and Zach develops slowly and there are some painful scenes when they both reveal their hangups due to their past. Jen and Zach are likable characters and the other characters were well developed. This story about the healing power of love is one of my favorite themes. The plot moved a bit slowly in places but overall the humor and characters made this book an enjoyable read.



Rosario said...

I want to read this one. I remember reading a couple of Claire Cross books years ago (Double Trouble and Third something) and I really liked them.

Jill D. said...

I enjoyed this one too, although I think I liked a little more than you did. I was really touched by both characters. I like that they weren't perfect and had to work through their problems.

I agree that Cross did a great job of balancing out the depressing circumstances with other up beat passages.

I haven't read anything else by her though and I think I should check out some of her other titles.

sybil said...

LOVED this book and sooooo didn't expect too. It made me her fan for life I think.

It is very hard to get me to read a book I know is going to be depressing or dealing with really touch issues. At least that isn't why I read romance. And this IS a romance.

I thought the whole series was good but the last two the best with this one as my fave.

Oddly enough I haven't had a chance to try her historical romances yet!

ReneeW said...

Rosario: I had only read DT before this one. I will definitely try others by this author.

Jill: Cross is worth checking out and Double Trouble was enjoyable for me.

Sybil: Yes, I agree, when I first realized what their issues were I was afraid I would be dragged down, but it was surprisingly well done and not depressing at all. I need to find the other two in the series.

nath said...

Hi Renee :D

I'm a bit late, but have to say, love the new look :D It's really nice!! :D You did a good job with codes and all :D

I enjoyed this book. Prefer Double Trouble, but this one was nice and ties up everything :D

ReneeW said...

Nath: Thanks for your kind word about my coding skills. Yes, I too liked Double Trouble more than this one but it was enjoyable all the same.

Wow, I haven't touched my blog in over 6 years and I'm still logged in!  Good thing because I have no idea what my password is.  In ...