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Fall or Break, Book 1
Harper is no longer behind bars, but it doesn’t feel like it. Ten years serving time for a crime he didn’t commit have left him shut down, numb, and a frozen wreck over the simplest of choices. He’s acutely aware of the dark-haired young man checking him out in the supermarket, but he’s too deep in panic mode to even meet the guy’s gaze. Afraid the slightest move will trigger a fall that will never stop.
Fresh off a long-term relationship with a controlling man, Malachi is stuck living with relatives who think he’s a waste of oxygen. The tall guy in the long, gray coat is the first bright spot he’s glimpsed in a long time…though the man’s unblinking stare at a bottle of shower gel is a touch alarming.
Hard experience tells both of them to turn away before lust turns to hopeless attraction, and inevitably to disaster. But once their sparks connect, the arc of electricity is too strong to deny. Even if the cost is too much to bear.
This is my first Barbara Elsborg book. I know she has released quite a number of titles but I have never been interested with the summaries – plus some friends who have read those told me one or two things that I imagined could easily be my pet peeves. The reason why I requested the ARC for this one was simply the words “ten years serving time for a crime he didn’t commit” in the book summary … I was really intrigued to read a romance about someone who had been to prison. How would he found the way back to normal life, to love and intimacy? What kind of person would fall in love with him?
Well, this has been an emotionally satisfying read indeed…
There is a somber ambiance to this story that just appeals to me – understandable considering Harper’s background and Malachi’s current situation (Malachi just got out of a relationship with a controlling man, he lost his job, and was forced to live with his sister and unsympathetic brother-in-law). However, the romance between the two is exceptionally written, from the tentative friendship in the beginning (mostly coming from Harper) until the final hopeful and lovely ending. I was especially drawn into Malachi’s character, maybe because he is strong-headed and loyal, and his humor helped lighten the heavy melancholic mood that is Harper’s.
The way Elsborg eases readers into Harper and Malachi’s love story is engaging, she strips the layers of these two men one by one, presenting us with quite complex characters that are very well-rounded. Nothing that they did felt out of character. Nothing that happened felt too over the top dramatic. This is the kind of tale that I just love.
The character complexities did not apply only to Harper and Malachi. There was another character that first came to us in snippets of conversation or internal monologue, but later played a very important role in saving Harper and Malachi. This character was definitely the most intriguing one in the book – and I ended up rooting for his own story because I could imagine all the goodness of redemption coming from him
It was almost a perfect read if not for a couple of things…
Unfortunately, the ‘mystery’ behind the person responsible for Harper going to prison is quite predictable. As someone who appreciates a good mystery and read Agatha Christie when she was a girl, it was a bit of a letdown. I mean, I could guess the villain from a million miles away, including the reasons behind it. I was expecting something that was not exactly too blatantly black and white.
I also felt that there were WAY too many sex scenes for my personal preference. Having said that, I actually READ them all, because Malachi’s babbling during the sex scenes was highly entertaining and it couldn’t be skipped. I admit the emotional involvement during the sex was very palpable, which made it more than just gratuitous. That is quite a significant thing for me, which is why in the end, I decide to give 4.5 stars. Hey, I didn’t skim the sex scenes! THAT rarely happens, so it counts for a winning point.
All in all, Falling is a very well-written and captivating story and definitely one of my most pleasurable stories this year. I am so looking forward to the second book.