When She Was Bad

One Night Stand
by Cindy Kirk     
(Avon Books, $6.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-0-06-084791-3 
One Night Stand is a truly refreshing, modern romance, due mostly to its engaging heroine.  Marcee Robben is a very modern woman.  Her attitude and thoughts are independent, empowering and brassy.  She is happily single and knows what she wants in a man - and what she doesn’t want.  Marcee suits herself, has no trouble walking away from any man, and believes that life is a series of chances.

She meets Sam McKelvey at her best friend Jenny’s wedding, a night when romance is in the air and her hotel room is only an elevator ride away.  Sam is a father and a dedicated police detective.  He’s a rugged, caring alpha male who lets his sense of responsibility and duty dictate his life…until he meets Marcee.  Marcee and Sam have a hot and heavy one-night stand and walk away.

Afterwards, Marcee feels a shock of sadness that she had such a fleeting time with Sam, but decides it’s time to get on with her life.  Sam and his daughter Fern move to the small community of Ellwood; Sam has been recruited for a small town police job and he plans to use his extra time off with Fern

. Meanwhile, Marcee’s irresponsible mom has run off with husband number five, leaving Marcee’s estranged teenaged brother, Camden, to fend for himself.  After years spent running away from her bad childhood memories, Marcee is headed “home” to the town where she grew up - Ellwood.

Sam and Marcee quickly run into one another.  It’s Marcee’s idea to pretend they don’t know each another; after all, Ellwood is a typical small town.  The gossips are vicious and the walls have ears.  However, the town is so small that they constantly cross paths.  For the most part, Marcee and Sam’s series of run-ins are honest and open, a real chance to understand one another.  It turns out that Marcee and Sam are next-door neighbors, which provides for plenty of opportunities for sexy teasing and simmering desire in close confines.  Sam and Marcee hide their undefined sexual relationship from everyone in town, partially to save face with the town gossips and partially because Sam doesn’t want his daughter to find out.

To complicate matters, Sam’s daughter Fern and Marcee’s brother Cam are spending a lot of time together alone.  Sam has parenting/relationship-juggling guilt, the type of balancing act equipped with emotional vandalism that is usually reserved for working moms.  Cam dresses like an alternative rebel and Sam has trouble seeing through that façade; Fern certainly doesn’t as she is dangerously close to falling in love with Cam. 

  Once Marcee realizes that she’s being 1) treated like a booty call by Sam and 2) rejected, she breaks it off.  She’s sick of sneaking around and fooling around, with no hope of commitment or love.  Sam and Marcee then must learn whether or not they want to live apart or if they can even manage to come together in public.

One Night Stand was delicious.  Marcee really resonates as a modern woman; she is independent and feisty while dealing with self-esteem and self-doubt.  I particularly enjoyed her use of a self-help seminar that she attended to better herself, and the way she repeats her new mantra “Reach High.”  The modern woman’s struggle to have everything she wants, while not settling for whatever’s available, is beautifully illustrated by Marcee’s inner dialogue. 

While I really enjoyed Marcee’s point of view, and the story, I found that Sam’s character was fairly two-dimensional.  He is described as sexy and caring by Marcee, but we’re mostly left to trust her opinion.  Sam has his moments of brilliance, when he has father-daughter talks with Fern, for instance.  I was left wanting more moments with him, more description, more thought so that I could understand him better.

That aside, One Night Stand is funny, modern and a bit daring.  I enjoyed reading about Sam and Marcee’s story and was a little sad to see it end. 

--Amy Wroblewsky

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