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The Eleventh Hour

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Fighting Fair - Anne Calhoun Fighting Fair is the story of a marriage at the crisis point, and the one night that supposedly saves an estranged couple from divorce. Natalie and Shane once had a passionate and committed partnership, but Shane's commitment to his work over his wife have strained the marriage to the point where Natalie is seriously considering cutting her losses and moving on. In a last ditch attempt to save their marriage, Natalie schedules a couples counseling session with a marriage and family therapist -- a session to which Shane is 20 minutes late and pretty dismissive with both Natalie and the therapist. When Shane makes partner at his investment firm a few days later, however, he realizes how empty his marriage has become and how close he is to losing Natalie for good.

Needless to say, given my 2 star rating, I didn't quite buy it. The story starts out pretty interesting, with the counseling session between Natalie and Shane. We see how good their relationship used to be, contrasted with how bitter and strained things have become between the couple. Natalie and Shane are shown to have some serious problems in their relationship, that are years in the making. These problems are magnified when Shane is at a party to celebrate his recent promotion to partner, alone, when he realizes that he has no idea where his wife is and that he wants her back with him. When he spies her talking to another man through the window of a bar, he assumes she's cheating on him and goes to confront her.

This is where the short story fairly unravels. From this point, the angst, resentment and emotions that had been building up between the hero and heroine devolve into a boring sex game of hide and seek, which I thought was unbelievable that Natalie would even agree to at all. At this point in the story, she's barely talking to him. She resents him so much that she can't even look at him without choking on her bile and bitterness. But, when they get home after Shane's accused her of cheating on him, he's like wanna play a game, lol? And she falls in line even though she's already got one foot out of the door. The sex scene itself was, in my opinion, a very drawn out, half-hearted apology from Shane to Natalie after years of ignoring her. Then everything's fine! I guess I wanted to see more actual emotional repairing of the relationship, because it seemed like they slapped a sex band-aid on the mortal wound of their marriage, and I wasn't very confident that any of this would last. I've had this problem before with Anne Calhoun novels, where the sex takes center stage and emotions come in a distant, distant second place. Just not my cup of tea. 2 stars.