COMING CLEAN – C. L. Parker
A Perfect 10
Monkey Business Trio , Book 3
San Diego, California - Present Day
Three years ago, Cassidy Whalen was a sports agent going up against Shaw Matthews to sign Denver (Rocket Man) Rockford with Striker Sports Entertainment. Shaw had no compunction using sex and seduction to try to put Cassidy off her game, but Denver was just about to sign with her when her mother had an accident in Maine and Cassidy had to quit the contest and give the client and partnership position to Shaw. Shaw followed her to Maine, and ended up bringing Cassidy back to San Diego with him…pregnant. Cassidy resigned from Striker in order to care for their son Abe, something she enjoys with all her heart. Unfortunately, Cassidy's wonderful life as an unwed mother is falling down around her; Shaw has no time to spend with her or Abe, or else doesn't want to make any. She has tried two times to get him to a marriage counselor, but he never shows up. On their third appointment, Shaw is on the way and gets caught in a traffic jam, and goes to Monkey Business, his and Cassidy's favorite bar, to meet some buddies; he's already blown the appointment. When he comes home drunk and tries his usual act of using sex to make things up, Cassidy's mind, as usual, is numb, there's no enjoyment for her. The next day when Shaw tells Cassidy that “once upon a time” he had thought she hung the moon, Cassidy's heart is empty, and she decides to return to Maine.
Shaw is totally devoted to his job; he's a new partner and he is just about to sign a new running back. While talking to him, he realizes there are things about Marcel Ingram, the running back, that he realizes Cassidy would have already known. He feels that marriage counseling is just a waste of time and money, until he walks in that night after ditching the appointment and Cassidy is packing to leave. Reluctantly he agrees to the counseling to keep her and Abe in his life. Dr. Jeremy Sparling is their counselor, and right away Cassidy gives Shaw the biggest surprise of his life. When discussing their sex lives, which they agree was the original basis of their relationship, and therefore vital to their connection, Cassidy reveals that it has been a long time since she received any satisfaction at all, and fakes it. She reminds him once upon a time he would have known that. Because of the importance of sex in the beginning of their relationship Dr. Sparling refers them to a sexual therapist, Dr. Katya Minkov.
With so much resentment between them, Cassidy and Shaw are suddenly excited to see Dr. Katya, and begin her therapy. Between her and Dr. Sparling, things come up between them that have been covered for years, including the pain Shaw's parents gave him and his promise to never marry. It will be touch and go whether their old love and passion can be regained.
C. L. Packer has totally nailed these characters. Like many relationships, after an exciting and love filled beginning, the child comes and the woman is soon in the background and doing nothing in their men's eyes. Shaw says, "Cassidy doesn't work, she stays home and plays with the baby." And we wonder why so many women started returning to work with this common attitude. Shaw's lack of respect for her and what she does is apparent during this story. Told from Cassidy's and Shaw's points view, he thinks he is working so hard all the time to provide them with the things his absent father and alcoholic mother never did for him. Shaw wants to spend time with the son he loves so much, but it's always “I'll see you soon and make it up to you.” Cassidy knows in her heart she is worthy of the love and attention Shaw used to give her, but his lack of respect and ignoring the attempts at marriage counseling let her know she isn't worth much to him anymore. Plus her lack of sexual satisfaction or even desire for Shaw is so unlike them she can't believe he doesn't notice.
Secondary characters are Dr. Sparling and Dr. Minkov, each using extraordinary methods to reach Shaw and Cassidy. Denver by now is a good friend, and their friends at the Monkey Business bar try to give what support they can.
COMING CLEAN so entranced and excited me it's impossible to explain my enjoyment in reading it. The situation is classic, a father with his excuses for being too busy for his child, whom he supposedly is trying to give a different life to, contrasting with Shaw's absentee father, is only slowing realized. The first two novels in the Monkey Business Trio are PLAYING DIRTY (May 2015) and GETTING ROUGH (January 2016). COMING CLEAN will overwhelm you by itself, but Shaw and Cassidy's past is equally enthralling. So much emotion and such real-as-life situations easily deserves our Perfect 10. This is an outstanding conclusion to Shaw and Cassidy's story, and whether their mixed up relationship can be saved. Enjoy!