Worth Waiting For by Roberta Gayle
(Arabesque, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0-7860-0522-X
****
Anything worth having is worth waiting for. Brothers Thomas and Elias Greene have waited twelve years for Eliza Taylor to grow up. They met Eliza when she was in Tommy's Harvard Law School class. Tommy was 16, Ely was 14 and Eliza was 26!

Tommy Greene had been a wonderkid. At 13 he graduated with honors from high school; completed undergrad school at Harvard 16, and started law school that same year. He graduated at the top of his class; Eliza was second.

After a short-lived marriage, Tommy Greene was back in Boston as the youngest partner in the city's number-one corporate law firm. He could be the GQ or Black Enterprise poster boy for power and success: Armani suit, gold Rolex, perfectly manicured hands, debonair and self-assured manner...

And then there's Ely Greene, who had been "Tommy Greene's little brother." He was intelligent enough. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees and was teaching at a prestigious private school. His wife died several years ago and left him with a toddler to raise. He is on the brink of losing his job for consistently breaking the rules. With his five-dollar haircut, klutzy, absent-minded professor persona and a wardrobe that could only be described as "K-Mart chic," Ely could be a poster boy for Nerds-R-Us.

The Greene-Taylor reunion was necessitated by Ely's impending custody battle with his wife's parents over his now eight-year-old son, Jessie. Relations between Ely and his in-laws had always been good until health considerations were forcing a move from Boston to Arizona. Jessie's maternal grandparents thought they could provide stability, security and resources his father could not. They are suing Ely for custody. Jessie is a manchild who loves his father unconditionally and who doesn't always understand adult machinations.

Eliza is a noted attorney who specializes in juvenile law. Prior to attending law school, she had been a social worker. Only after a relentless lobbying campaign by the brothers Greene, Eliza reluctantly agrees to take Ely's case.

The Greenes have other plans for Eliza as well. Both Tommy and Ely are attracted to different facets of her character and pursue her. Eliza enjoys their friendship but the chronic workaholic has no time for romance. But the brothers quietly continue to woo her. However, this is not a competition, nor are there bad feelings between the brothers as a result of their relationships with Eliza.

Clearly Eliza, Tommy and Ely are people who are comfortable with one another. There is lively bantering and grown-up humor. It carries over into most of the secondary characters. And Eliza has a self-deprecating wit I found endearing.

She secretly wonders if, at 41, given the Greene brothers' ages if she has become "a dirty old lady." Assessing her attributes she claims, "with enough prep time and good lighting, she could even be called beautiful -- for a well-preserved, middle-aged lawyer." On yet another occasion, she opines "It's sort of my mission in life...preparing men to make a commitment. To other women."

With the brothers Greene in hot pursuit, Eliza takes refuge in her work and refuses to look back. They're gaining and growing on her. Which, if any, will she choose?

Worth Waiting For is an early summer find. It's a lighthearted story that gently reminds us to "get a life" and take stock of what is really important in our lives. It will make you smile...a lot.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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