New Fic of the Week: 3/5/12

March 08, 2012

Boxing Out by MeilleurCafe
Review by Ruibin Rua

Rating: M
Genre: Romance/Humor
Characters: Edward & Bella

Summary: Bella is a little lost while trying to make a new life in the Big Apple. Edward is a Manhattan police officer who knows it to the core. They meet at court. Will this new romance be a slam dunk? AH; M for language and probable lemons.

It’s not often that I come across a story with a character that appears to be speaking my own words, but Meilleur Cafe’s Bella in her latest story, Boxing Out, represents such a character for me. I may not lead the life of her Bella, or have all of her particular life experiences, but I feel very deeply that she is a kindred spirit, and a part of myself that is still striving for the air to grow more fully.

 Bella once thought she wasn't big enough for New York; that she'd stay out of sight like its smallest parts: the tuck of a street curb, the apron of a window, the tiny letters in a sign you had to cross the street to read. All those feelings of insignificance evaporated now. She finally felt visible, held fast in Edward's arms. She knew she wouldn't disappear, and neither would he. 

As for her burgeoning romance, well I’d happily share her experiences with a certain Edward in this story! I’ve never read a story with a Copward in it before, but I am now a firm disciple of that particular brand of male characterisation! Actually, I’m feeling more than a little warm just thinking of him. What gets me about this Edward is that he fits my idea of a ‘real man’(forgive me the cliche), with every flaw and attribute that accompanies such a specimen. My inner perv has no reason to complain either, as when you picture him in his dress blues, or on a basketball court, I guarantee that your lady parts will begin a very enthusiastic refrain.
Whenever he had the ball, Edward outshone them all. Graceful and fast, he managed to work through almost every cluster of opposition in his drives to the basket. Bella watched him sail up against the backboard countless times, going over and around defenders with a dancer's sure footing, and the ball made it through the hoop with nearly every shot. 

Bella, too, is a woman worthy of our admiration. It is so gratifying to find a female lead with a meaningful job, strength of character and integrity of self. Both she and Edward are drawn to one another, because they both possess and value these character traits, along with a healthy sense of humour and a chemistry that will make your breath falter. Neither character eclipses the other; rather, they compliment each other beautifully. Their interactions with the secondary characters are also given the proper attention and Rose in this story is especially likeable.

 "You put off your meeting so you could ask me about Edward?" 

"Well, yeah." Rosalie looked at her like this was the normal course of events. For Rose, it probably was. 

"We took the subway together." 

"I know that. Jeez, stop wasting my time. Tell me how it went." "Oh, Rose, it was beyond my wildest fantasies." She paused for dramatic effect as Rosalie's eyes widened. "The train was on schedule, for once." 

Meilleur Cafe has crafted real, human characters. This isn’t a story with drama inserted for drama’s sake, nor is it romantic in a way that makes the sliver of a cynic in me (I swear, my cynic muscle is a little on the pudgy, under-used side) roll her eyes. At its heart, this is a story about two people who meet and click in that wonderful way that life sometimes allows; and we’re the lucky ones being afforded a bird’s eye view into the exhilarating zing of attraction and deepening feeling.

"I'm going to have to get used to this," she said slowly. 

Edward glanced at her quickly, and for a moment she saw hope on his face, which made it so endearingly vulnerable she almost couldn't bear to tease him. 

"Used to what?" he said. 

 "To this New York sense of humor. I could have had a whole lemonade stand here, plus clean clothes and a private shower, just for you" – she poked her finger into his damp chest – "and you still would have asked for whatever I didn't have." 

He looked at her intently for a moment before responding. "Nah. I think you'll always have everything for me." 

There are only three chapters posted so far, but each of these is satisfyingly long and was worth waiting for. I find myself completely absorbed in the ebb and flow of the plot, and reading Meilleur Cafe’s words is like watching a finely honed script being acted out in your head. Add to this a deliciously dry sense of humour and a deft writing touch and you have one hell of a winner on your hands, ladies and gentlemen!

She regarded him curiously. "You'd really spend your day off in a museum?"

"Sure. Just to impress you, of course. I'd rather be at the illegal chicken fights in the Bronx." She honestly couldn't tell if he was serious, he was so good at doing deadpan.

And lines like this make me laugh out loud; yes, even when I’m travelling amongst the perpetually grumpy, sleep-deprived morning commuters:

Like a pigeon who stubbornly returns each time he's chased away, Mike dropped by Bella's cubicle again that afternoon. He slumped into the empty chair in her office, uninvited and unwanted. 

On a more personal note, Meilleur Cafe, or Mango as I know her, is a dear friend of mine and nothing makes me prouder than to see her grow as a writer. Boxing Out is her most accomplished piece of work to date and I have no fear in recommending it loudly and enthusiastically to all who follow this blog. We have often considered ourselves as ‘fic-sisters’, reading a lot of the same Fanfiction stories and admiring similar styles. Mango, this time the style I am gushing about is all your own and it is glorious to behold!

She stared at him, breathless, as his fingertips traced the shape of her face again and again. "I see you," he said, then repeated fiercely, "I see you. And that guy? He never could."


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