The One and Only
Grade : A

The One and Only was a New York Times #1 bestseller and deservedly so. It’s the story of thirty-three-year-old sports reporter Shea Rigsby and her gradual realization that her lifelong hero-worship of football coach Clive Carter might go deeper than friendship. However, he’s twenty-two years older, is mourning the recent loss of his wife, and his daughter is Shea’s best friend.

As the story begins, there is no acknowledgement of romantic attraction. Months pass (in the novel) before Shea begins to recognize her feelings for Coach, not only because she seems unaware and needs convincing, but because the reader needs convincing as well. After all, society has a natural skepticism of “spring-fall” romances, which possibly explains why the blurb on the back of the book may have shied away from mentioning the subject. The complications are magnified in this case, because Coach has been a father figure in Shea’s life since she was a baby.

The unlikelihood of such a romance poses a challenge for an author, but Giffin artfully turns it to an advantage by making the age difference one of the most believable separation devices I’ve encountered in a love story. We’re well into the book before Shea even confronts the subject: “Coach Carter was the last person in the world I had any business having feelings for. He was too old for me. He had just lost the love of his life. He was my best friend’s father. It was insanity.

Of course, engaging love stories always come with obstacles, but those obstacles are often flimsy—'He’s my boss'; 'He’s my brother’s best friend'.  In this case, I was at first in total agreement with Shea.  Aside from the fact that he’s a wonderful man and they share the same passion for football, Coach doesn’t seem like an appropriate love match. Giffin even provides Shea with a seemingly more suitable option—Ryan James, the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He’s rich, charming, age-appropriate, and most of all, he seems to adore her.

But any hope of an idyllic future with Ryan is short-lived as we start to see cracks in his polished façade. This is where Giffin upends the usual sports-hero trope and the book begins to feel more like women’s fiction than romance.

It requires a cautious hand to make this kind of love story work, and Emily Giffin pulls it off. She is a masterful writer and her books are a gift to those who appreciate realism with their romance.

There is one odd quirk in the book that jarred me out of a crucial moment. The final chapter switches from past to present tense. I imagine Giffin was attempting to draw us inside the energy of the final big football game, but instead, I found myself flipping back a few pages to make sure I hadn’t imagined the shift in tense. Fortunately, I quickly re-immersed myself in the story, and the final chapter is long enough that I was fully engaged for the satisfying ending.

~ Jamie Orr

Reviewed by Guest Reviewer
Grade : A

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : April 16, 2023

Publication Date: 05/2014

Recent Comments …

  1. What kept me reading was the sheer unpredictability of the storyline. I knew David’s and Chelsea’s paths would cross again…

Guest Reviewer

Over the years, AAR has had many a guest reviewer. If we don't know the name of the reviewer, we've placed their reviews under this generic name.
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