☆☆➹⁀☆ 5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆
What it’s about:
My mom always said it was just something about the way he moved.
The same swagger Archie Valentine wore in the ring when he took his opponents down followed him like a halo everywhere he went. But make no mistake about it—he was no angel. He was like a drug. My mother was his addict. I never understood it…
how love could make you blind and convince you to drink the poison. Not until I met Memphis Delaney.
At first, it was the familiar form. He’s a fighter, built like a god from the past, the kind of man the universe doesn’t make anymore. His eyes hide a story, and every time I’m in his presence I want to keep reading him until I get to the end. And then…there’s the way he moves. His boxing is violent but beautiful, and his body is a seductive weapon. When he’s in the ring, he wears the stare of a man committed to the battle until his very last breath.
He could end me; turn me into her. Too much of him will leave me as a shadow, and I’ve lost so much of myself already.
But I have discipline. It came the hard way. Lessons learned, scars left behind, and trust stripped away from life.
I will breathe his air, but I won’t fall for a man like him. The only boxer who’s ever going to break my heart is the one who gave me my name.
Wow! Ginger Scott took me by surprise with this one. Ms. Scott’s latest novel, Memphis, is a contemporary sports romance. The characters are just outside the age range of the author’s usual YA/NA genre. The characters’ backstories and issues make Memphis a bit darker than the author’s usual stories. I don’t recommend this book to younger readers (due to some violence and disturbing scenes); however, I whole-heartedly recommend it to adult readers.
Ms. Scott never fails to deliver an extraordinarily well-written novel. Memphis is well paced, and the story is thoughtfully put together. Olivia’s backstory is revealed in such a way that the tension steadily builds throughout the novel. While the title of the book features the male lead (Memphis), Olivia and her family are the core of the story, and they create the story conflict. Each fact of Olivia and the Valentine family’s history foreshadows a shocking revelation to Memphis as well as a very emotional story zenith.
Memphis is a fantastic character. He had a sad, difficult start in life, but that didn’t turn him bitter or malicious. He is the embodiment of good. He pursues boxing not so much for fame but for a deep desire to live up to his name. Memphis juxtapose to the Valentine clan makes for a clear good vs. evil story. While I find the thought of boxing as a sport disturbing, Memphis is a wholly likable character. He is thoughtful, kind, generous, handsome and charming—yes, basically a sexy boy scout.
Olivia Valentine is the daughter of boxing royalty. Her dad, Archie, might have been king of the ring, but he was no prince. His behavior, along with her mom and uncle’s was reprehensible, and their actions form the foundation of the family’s dysfunctionality. Olivia endured a very negative childhood, and since then she has made one questionable choice after another. This smart, good-looking woman has not had any breaks. I found it easy to emphasize with her situation, but I did find her behavior/choices and reactions rough. While Memphis doesn’t harbor anger about his past, Olivia’s anger and resentment over her past has become her armor. She is happily estranged from her family, yet she returns home when her life tanks (with this group, living on the street might be a better option). Each time her despicable mother, Angela, throws down the gauntlet, Olivia takes the bait instead of ignoring her. Inevitably, it is Olivia’s anger and learned toughness that lead to her brilliant strategy and negotiations.
The secondary characters in Memphis are fantastic. They are fully developed and instrumental to the story every step of the way. The Valentines–Leo, Archie, and Angela are the most horrible family members you could ever imagine. Enoch, Olivia’s ex, is wonderfully dislikable. Charles and Miles are the virtuous secondary characters who positively influence Olivia and Memphis, respectively.
The denouement of Memphis is perfect. Olivia shows just how strong she has become, and she, with the help of Memphis, is her own savior. True to her style, Ms. Scott has made her lead female character not the damsel in distress who needs rescuing, but the strong heroine who saves the day. While there is a lot of anger and possibly ill will at the base of Olivia’s solution, in the end it is redemptive.
I love Ms. Scott’s writing, and even though I don’t find anything appealing about boxing, I thoroughly enjoyed Memphis. The characters are fantastic. The story is heart-wrenching at times and romantic at other times. Ms. Scott’s story of perseverance and redemption also delivers messages of inner strength, honor and generosity.