Lexi Steiner is a pro bono lawyer in Los Angeles, barely 30--but already wondering if adventure is over in her life. Not that there isn't a good deal of precariousness in Lexi's career: the impending first Reagan term seems to guarantee an end to her immigration clinic. Yet Lexi sees little chance for the sort of real ventures into Unknown territory--new feelings, new braveries--that she shared in college with roommate Nell; her only daring comes in the paltry brazenness of sleeping with men whom she'd never expect (or desire) to see a second time. Then, however, Lexi meets David Wiley, a divorced investigative reporter. Is it love? Well, not immediately. At first Lexi reserves her strongest feelings for the ideal state--almost but not quite sexual--that she has with soulmate Nell (who sniffs David out warily, while he does the same). And even when love does bloom, Lexi finds her new commitment to romance--and to David--frightening. But eventually, as writer Nell also finds herself in love (with a New York editor), the pieces of growing up do finally seem to be falling into place. Written from inside the skins of Lexi, Nell, and David (who's impressively sympathetic), Benedict's first novel is trimly contemporary--full of Walkmans and budget-cuts and punk hairdo's on 14-year-olds (like David's daughter). At the same time, however, as the characters slowly circle one another, feeling out the territory, they cut beneath mere surface--into credible apprehension, the conflicts of friendship vs. love, the fears of change. All in all: a talented debut.