Midnight, Moonlight & Miracles
by Teresa Southwick
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1517, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-24517-3
***
Midnight, Moonlight & Miracles is one of those stories that would make a great movie of the week on Lifetime. It makes for a little bit of a sentimental story when reading it. However, Southwick has written an engaging story and despite the melodrama, I did enjoy it.

Simon Reynolds was devastated two years ago when his son, Marcus, and ex-wife were both killed in a car accident while he was out of town on business. He is tortured by the fact that this occurred on “his weekend”, which he gave up for work. His ex-mother-in-law, Janet, agreed to donate both of the victims’ organs to donors who needed them. Simon could never accept that. He has closed himself off from caring and has chosen instead to live the life of a daredevil - going from one dangerous “hobby” to another. This time, he is riding a motorcycle without a helmet.

ER Nurse Megan Brightwell is amazed at Simon’s stupidity…how dumb can someone be to ride a bike at such high speeds without a helmet? Plenty of bruises, a possible concussion and a torn-up knee seem a small price to pay when he could have died. Always a straight shooter, Megan senses that Simon doesn’t need sympathy and she doesn’t give it to him. When he tries to sign himself out of the ER against medical advice, she lets him have it.

Simon is ensnared. He is struck by Megan’s beauty but is really attracted to her honesty and willingness to stand up to him. He feels like a man getting a breath of fresh air after being cooped up for years. But how can he see her again? Simple, he uses his influence and guilt on her part to get her assigned as his home health nurse. (This is Megan’s full time job - she is only a temp in the ER).

On the first day, he tricks her into kissing him. She is thrilled, but uses the “you are my patient” excuse to get away and make him promise no more. On the second day, her barbs hit a little close to home when he pulls the “pity me” routine, making him retaliate by verbally lashing out. In a less than mature manner, Megan gets upset and leaves, deciding she will get a replacement.

On the way out, she bumps into the ex-mother-in-law Janet, who she knows from the hospital. (Now, here comes the heightened music….) Megan met Janet on the night her daughter, Bayleigh, received new corneas from Janet’s grandson…Simon’s son. Now Megan feels compelled to stay and help Simon so that she can thank him, and also because Janet convinces her that Simon’s rude behavior is the first sign of real living since the accident.

The rest of the story is about Simon’s recovery with Megan’s help while Megan hides the truth from Simon. Can true love follow or will this “secret” keep them from loving forever? What happens when Simon meets Bayleigh? Can they be a family with Marcus’ ghost hanging over them? Tune in to find out!

As I read my description, I realize how melodramatic this story really was. It is a major tribute to Southwick that this works as well as it does. Megan is a well-rounded character. She is smart, dedicated and convinced she can help Simon. She does not wallow in the guilt she feels or the sympathy for Simon. She is almost too pragmatic, and I think that is her saving grace.

Simon is tortured but not overly ridiculous with it. At the beginning, he acts a little depressed, but one gets the impression he is looking for an excuse to start living again, and Megan provides that. His recovery and ability to heal from both his injuries and his level of guilt seems realistic.

The nicest surprise was Bayleigh. This child is written in a fairly realistic way in that she is smart and a little precocious, but no more so that you would imagine for a child of 5 who has lived through eye surgeries and with such uncertainty in her young life. As I was reading this book, I felt sorry for her, but also realized how bright she was, and a delight.

Southwick has steered clear of “heart-wrenching” and “tear-jerker”, but has thrown in Melodrama with a capital M. If this is your cup of tea, sit back and enjoy Midnight, Moonlight & Miracles.

--Shirley Lyons


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