Meeting at Midnight
Meeting at Midnight is the second in Silhouette Desire’s new Man Talk promotion of books written from the hero’s perspective. It’s also written in the first-person POV, which I like perhaps more than many other readers, and the latest by Eileen Wilks, one of the better series authors writing today. As an added bonus, it has a paranormal element, always a plus for me. I had high hopes for this book, but it didn’t really live up to them.
One night, Ben McClain’s truck slides off an icy road, flipping and rolling over in a crash that nearly kills him. He manages to get himself out of the smashed vehicle and stumbles back onto the road, where a woman comes to his aid. In his daze, he thinks he sees her begin to glow, and believes she must be an angel.
When he awakes in the hospital, he is able to meet his savior. Seely Jones isn’t really an angel. She is a waitress, at least she was until she responded to her boss’s advances by tossing a plate of food all over him. After being fired, she was heading home when she came across Ben on the road. He is determined to leave the hospital as soon as possible, and in order to convince his family to let him go home, he asks Seely to come work for him as a nurse to relieve their fears. He also wants to know more about the woman, who he suspects has other secrets she won’t reveal.
This is a decent read. The writing is sharp. The plot is mostly well developed. So it took me a while to find out why I found the book strangely uninvolving. A big reason is the first-person format, which is more of a hindrance than a help in this case. First-person can offer an immediacy or insight into the character that third-person can’t. In this case, it offers neither. Ben is a fairly bland character, and reading about these events from his perspective wasn’t all that interesting. He doesn’t have a distinctive voice, and the unique P.O.V. really doesn’t let the reader into his head any more than a more conventional story would. He would have been just as developed, if not more, in third person as he was telling his own story in his own voice. Nearly every “I” could have been changed to “he” and “my” to “his” and so on and it wouldn’t really have made any difference.
First-person doesn’t add anything, but it does subtract it, since there are no scenes from Seely’s perspective. This is a problem, because she’s actually the more interesting character. By the end, after spending all of the book in Ben’s P.O.V. and none in Seely’s, she still felt more vivid and compelling than he did. Normally, first- person is a good choice when one character is supposed to be mysterious. That’s why it’s used in so many Gothics. Except Seely never comes across as that mysterious. There’s no sense of mystery in the story, because the reader pretty much knows the truth about Seely within the first few chapters. Ben does too. For much of the story she just seems like a nice, perfectly normal (although we know otherwise) woman whose head we’re being kept out of for no good reason.
The book improves in its final third, when some conflict emerges. Unsurprisingly, once the truth about Seely is revealed and the characters begin to deal with it, the story becomes more interesting. I liked the last few chapters a great deal.
Meeting at Midnight is an acceptable read, but one that falls short of all the promise it contains. Readers who have been following the stories of the McClain siblings (I enjoyed the last book, Midnight Choices, much more than this one) may want to see Ben’s story. It’s too bad it’s only moderately entertaining instead of the truly compelling story it could have been.