This review is by Sabra Nicole, who wrote to me and asked about writing a guest review of Emily Foster’s How Not to Fall. She said, “it gave me all the feelings, and I have things to say, even a good week-plus after reading it.” Her Twitter bio says she is a writer of things…mostly words, and she’s that fluent in both Geek and Sarcasm. Welcome, Sabra!
This book was a god-damn revelation, and a very long time coming for me.
As someone whose earliest memories of reading revolve around my mother handing me her historicals, with clear instructions on which pages to skip (which I never did), romance novels have always been a part of my life. They hold a special place in my heart, and as such, I’ve always searched out those romances that spoke to me. In middle school, those were Jeanne Kalogridis’ Children of the Vampire and The Magic Christmas from Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley Twins and Friends series.
In high school, it was Anne Rice’s Blood and Gold.
Now, in my early thirties, it’s this book.
Brilliant and awkward Annabeth Coffey, counting down the days til she leaves her University lab for M.I.T.’s M.D/Ph.D. program, decides to make a move on her lab’s postdoctorate fellow, Dr. Charles Douglas, to hilarious and sexy results. Fun, feminist, and sex-positive, How Not to Fall is as genuinely hilarious as it is sexy, and is my catnip in it’s purest form.
(I hear that Ye Olde Victoria’s Secret has a 2 for 5 sale on petticoats, just in case you should need to buy some to toss out yonder window)
Without rehashing the plot blow-by-blow (as it were), it’s almost impossible to give good enough explanations for why I loved the characters so much, or why the book left me a in puddle of wibbly feels.
It’s not just that it features an extremely driven, extremely competent heroine and an intelligent and sexy hero that makes it great. It’s not even that the sex is hot, and…spoiler…it’s hot. What makes this book absolutely all my damn catnip is that it takes these two people and makes me root for them, not just as a couple, but as people. I want to laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry. I want to see them to be happy, and succeed on their own terms.
The fact that they bone—a lot—is a fringe benefit. A rather large, rather sweaty fringe benefit.
Now, petticoat-tossing moments aside, this book has some meat to it. (Ba-dum-bum.) Considering our heroine is a fucking ace in the psycho physiology field, and our hero is a postdoc, this has the potential to seem intimidating at first glance. The science is strong in these two. It’s their bread and butter, the soul of their flirtation, and I honestly worried that I was going to be so goddamn lost. Luckily for us all, Annie is a brilliant woman who also speaks “ordinary human,” so minor stumbling aside, I was happy to follow her along.
The fact that this story is dealing with an internal time constraint makes this all the more compelling. With the countdown to our heroine leaving the goddamn state for yonder horizon, the question of “will they, or won’t they” underlined a good deal of her interactions with the hero.
Will they or won’t they ever go out, after Annie totally blows the initial approach. Me: “They’d Fucking Better.”
Will they or won’t they manage a bone-free friendship. Me: “Do I fucking need to repeat myself?”
Will they or won’t they just bone already, because my god. The book: “No, no…don’t thank me. You’re fucking welcome.”
Even with boning eminent, the “will they or won’t they” question rears its glorious, embarrassing head (heh): Will Annie or won’t she go five minutes without embarrassing herself?
Probably not, which is fortunate, as moments like this are a gift:
I blindly feel around me and find my phone, which I check for the time, and I find this enlightening series of texts from the night before, which I read through a haze.
I cn se your pantis poodlepie.
What. What. What have I done? Oh, sweet motherfucking Jesus, I texted Charles Douglas that I could see his panties. I called him a poodlepie.
This combination of awkward hilarity, All the Science (some of which can be triggering, FYI), “Will They/Won’t They,” and a hero with issues comes together to offer up a book that fucking delivers. It delivers the funny and the heartbreak as easily as it does the sex, and left me hoping it would never end. Best of all? It emphatically dismisses the assumption that sex is going to be the cure-all for these two. Since this trope is one that tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth (insert oral sex joke here), I thought the story all the stronger for its absence.
In the end, this book literally flattened me—I spent a good twenty minutes sprawled out on my bed, staring at my ceiling, and hugging my phone. If I still occasionally make sappy eyes at the Kindle file, who’s to say.
In the days (*cough*weeks*cough*) following reading this book, I probably squee’d at four? Five? Friends that they just HAD to read it. Of those, at least three have it queued up on their Kindle. Of *those* three, two of those friends? Totally dudes. That’s right. This is a book that you can totally share with the men in your life, if you have the sort of relationship in which you feel comfortable doing so. Luckily, I do, so I made sure they KNEW that this was something they had to read–now–because they would love it.
On that note, I highly recommend this book to people (all genders, everyone) who are maaaybe, possibly interested in exploring BDSM themes in contemporary romantic-comedy, but are a little intimidated by the genre, or unsure where to even find that unique genre mish-mash. Since the kink leans more towards BDSM-light, it is a pleasant, sexy alternative for those who were left feeling limp (tee hee) after reading 50 Shades, but who aren’t quite ready to read about hard core couples in the BDSM scene. Even if BDSM isn’t your cup of tea, I’d still recommend giving this book a shot. The humor, brilliant characters, and heart make How Not to Fall a compelling read that you will be tempted to read again, and again.