One Night In Memphis
by Allie Boniface, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-60504-063-0

One Night In Memphis is structurally similar to Allie Boniface's One Night In Boston: a love story that takes place within the space of about one day.

Dakota James decides to take a break and leave her small town of Little Lakeside, New Hampshire, to visit her friend in Memphis. The poor dear has only recently ended her relationship with yet another married man who wouldn't leave his wife. You know this is, I'm sure: the wife and he are separated, she doesn't understand him the way Dakota does, he loves Dakota and not the estranged wife, but of course he won't leave the wife. They always won't. So Dakota has had enough and cut him loose. And now she wants a break from things and a new scenery may be just what she needs.

It's not that Dakota is a deliberate serial homewrecker, mind you. It's just that the men the poor dear ends up with tend to end up being the wrong ones for her.

In Memphis, we have Ethan Meriweather, a man who is unable to move on with life after... well, seeing how the story doesn't reveal the reason until much later into the book, I suppose I'll let the reader discover the reason herself, heh. At any rate, one fine day that June, Ethan and Dakota will meet and fall in love.

One thing that I really like about One Night In Memphis is how well the author delves into the hearts of her characters to the point that the characters' emotions come off as pretty real. Dakota's feelings after she has ditched her married boyfriend, for example, are vividly portrayed to the point that I feel that I can relate to every blue feeling of hers. Likewise, there is a real yet bittersweet poetry to Ethan's suffering - I don't know whether to write a ballet about him or to give him a sweet comforting hug. I don't necessarily agree with every thing these two say, do, or feel in this story, but that's okay. I don't read romance to have a story where everyone agrees with me and does as I say, after all. Ms Boniface has made her characters real enough that their strengths and flaws make them come off as human beings.

I have my doubts about the romantic suspense elements of this story at first. Dakota's ex, you see, is a crooked cop who will do anything to get back an incriminating evidence of him killing a man, an evidence that Dakota ends up bringing along with her to Memphis in a fit of pique. This villain is the most one-dimensional aspect of the story. However, the set-up also allows some very nicely-written scenes, such as this one. I've set up the excerpt in white font, though, because it contains spoilers. If you want to read the excerpt, highlight the words between the two tags with your mouse.

[spoiler starts] "We're going to get you to Baptist Memorial," the medic said. "The police will take your statement there."

You mean I'm not gonna be hauled away in handcuffs? Ethan closed his eyes. Cool.

"Is there someone we can call? Emergency contact? Someone who can meet you at the hospital?"


But Lydia was long gone, a stone marker in a cemetery on the other side of town the only physical proof she had ever existed in his life. He shook his head. Mike? Other than his best friend, Ethan couldn't think of a single person. "No one," he said. "I'll be fine."

The one medic, with a kind, wrinkled face, frowned. "You're sure?"

For a fleeting moment, Ethan thought of Dakota. Maybe she'll be at the hospital with Gunnar and Sarah, he thought. But the idea seemed absurd.

"There's no one to call. Iíll be fine."

Iíll be fine. How many times had he echoed those words in the last year? Ten? Fifty? Probably closer to a hundred. Yet they were always a lie. Always a cover for the pain that tightened his jaw, his chest, his life. Tonight, back at Piano Alley, had been the first time in forever that he'd glimpsed the possibility of remembering what fine truly felt like. And now it might as well be gone. [spoiler ends]

Falling in love over a short period of time is not an easy sell for me, but Ms Boniface manages to make me believe in her story. She even makes falling in love such a wonderful kind of bittersweet poetry to read about. A part of me will probably wish that the suspense elements have been scrapped altogether so that the story has more opportunity for the characters to moon over each other, but still, One Night In Memphis is definitely a pretty good story in my opinion.

Rating: 86

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