All or Nothing

Author: Claire Cross

Publisher: Berkley Sensation

Release Date: April 3, 2007

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4

Format: PRINT





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Jen Maitland doesn't trust men- especially the handsome ones.  They seem to be either wrapped up in themselves or run at the first sight of trouble.  Besides, she doesn't have time for a relationship; because, she needs to pay off her bills and the only way to do it is by waitressing at Mulligan's, a local eatery.  She didn't expect that one of her customers would change her life forever.

Zach Coxwell decided to meet up with his college friends at Mulligan's.  He had hoped to recapture a bit of his college days, before all of his mistakes and problems almost ended his life and career.  However, instead of reminiscing of good times, he saw how life, marriage and family seemed to envelope all of his friends' lives.  It only reaffirmed his belief that commitment and marriage was not for him. 

When he sees that Jen is assigned as his waitress, he decides to flirt with her.  However, she rebuffs his subtle advances.  Imagine his surprise when Jen goes after him and invites him to her family's Thanksgiving and his subsequent acceptance.  Can this awkward first date lead to something more?

ALL OR NOTHING is the final story of the Coxwell siblings, featuring the black sheep: Zach and Jen.  Jen is a young woman who doesn't trust anyone except her family.  She has been through a lot of pain and experiences over the last few years.  Even though Jen did the inviting, she is still wary about Zach.  She thinks that she knows his type, but he isn't anything like what she expected.  As she gets to know him, she starts to let her guard down.  She could tell him her secrets and fears and instead of mocking or abandoning her, he is more than willing to be by her side and support her. 

Zach hasn't always been that attentive.  He's made a lot of mistakes and it wasn't until his father's death, did he take control of his life.  Now, he's got a second chance at a normal life with Jen and he doesn't want to blow it.  She makes him take stock of his life and make some really positive changes in his life.  It's almost like she is his guardian angel urging him to be a better person.  It was really good to see how he tried to make amends with his family and realize how his former path to self-destruction affected his family.  It made him realize that his family did care about him even though they may not always show it. 

The secondary characters include the Coxwell family, as well as Jen's more eclectic family.  Their respective families are very different, because Jen's has been very supportive, while Zach's is leery of his change in attitude.  In a way, they help bring Zach and Jen together.  The best thing about Zach and Jen is that they see what the other is trying to hide.  It was rather sobering, but it really helped them move forward in their life.  ALL OR NOTHING is a good story of how a relationship needs a full commitment in order for it to be successful.  I believe that Jen and Zach have a true shot of making that happen.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Ann

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