Genre: Romance, Contemporary
From the author of How Not to Fall comes an electrifying, powerful new story about love, trust, and emotional surrender.
Once upon a time, med student Annie Coffey set out to have a purely physical fling with Charles Douglas, a gorgeous British doctor in her lab. It didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, secrets—and desires—were bared, hearts were broken, and Annie knew she had to leave this complicated, compelling man who remains convinced he can never give her what she needs.
Walking away is one thing. Staying away is another. Annie and Charles reunite at a London conference, rekindling a friendship they struggle to protect from their intense physical connection. Little by little, Annie gets a glimpse into Charles’s dark past and his wealthy, dysfunctional family. Soon, she’s discovering what it means to have someone claim her, body and soul. And she’s learning that once in a lifetime you find a love that can make you do anything…except let go.
I read the first book in this little duology just a few months ago and I there just weren’t enough good words to say about that book. I will say now my review may contain spoilers for the first book so for the love of all that is holy read that book first before reading this review.
How Not To Fall was this fantastic and refreshing romantic read that was so very different to anything I’d read before. It was a romance that on paper sounds like it could be Fifty Shades, but in reality is this amazing, emotional, layered exploration of romance and damaged people with issues trying to make it through in life. It was utterly amazing and the resolution we have in this book was just amazing. And cathartic. Which is a strange thing to say about a book.
Let Me Get My Negatives Outta The Way
I was utterly enamoured with these two books but I do realise there were flaws. Flaws I want to address head on, just in case you care.
First of all, compared to the first book this book felt a bit more disjointed with the flow of time. Occasionally, the chapters felt like they jumped around, especially when they changed perspective between Charles and Annie. This second book takes place over a longer period of time than the first so I think that may be why it felt a bit more disjointed. It bothered me a bit as I was reading to skip chunks of time or have chunks of time just brushed across then to have time slow again. The pacing wasn’t off, but I noticed the time changes.
Also, I felt the ending got rushed. It built up for a while and then I could see where it was building to and when we reached the precipice and we could see the end it was like we went rolling down a hill and everything rushed by so fast that I was left questioning how we got there. I mean, I liked the ending but at the same time I felt like it was all over too soon. Maybe that is me being upset over the book ending and wanting to hold on a bit longer, but it did feel rushed to me.
Now We’ve Gotten Past That Why Was This A Favourite?
Look, I’ve still not gotten over how much the clinical descriptions of sex just worked for me in the last book and they continued to work for me in this one. Especially as the sex is very controlling with Annie being to the point of not being able to move from orgasm and Charles then using her for his own pleasure. When phrased in that way it sounds insanely creepy (and is something which Annie begins to question with her friends if this is normal behaviour and gets addressed with Charles as well. I love the fact that sexual practices are addressed when they are uncommon and questioned) yet in the book, maybe due to the way sex is described in a passionate but clinical way made it so good.
I loved the way the book is written, sure I needed to look up a few of the more archaic words at times but this book is written intelligently. At no point are things dumbed down to readers, instead things are explained when necessary and both characters, although being insanely intelligent, are still human and say completely normal things with Aristotle quotes and such interspersed.
I love that we found out more about both Annie and Charles's life and past and actually got to see some of their family and childhood. I really liked that. Especially as the time with both of their families allowed for a vast amount of character growth as well. I mean, they both went through a lot of character growth at other times as well (another favourite aspect, the way these characters were determined to grow and develop and still be in one another’s lives regardless of what role they played in it) but the way that their families helped to trigger a lot of growth and revelations for them both was just fantastic so they weren’t stuck in this angsty isolation as a couple.
And the way mental health problems are addressed was insane. I mean, I was thrilled with the character growth which occurred in this book, but the fact that mental health is addressed and the lasting affects a history of emotional abuse can have on characters was just astounding. I mean, Charles and his siblings all experienced emotional abuse and each of them dealt with it in very different ways, from Biz’s anorexia as her consumption of food was something she could control in times of high stress. And then there was Simon with his stuttering and piano collection with his ability to use algorithms to analyse future events. Then there was Charles who chose to cut himself off from emotional pain by cutting off and controlling his interactions with others so he didn’t risk getting emotionally entangled (which was obviously destined to fail). The way each of those characters grew and developed was really interesting and seeing how they handled and coped with the abuse they experienced. Charles grew and battled against his bit of despair. Biz was taking steps to overcome anorexia and her battle with food. Simon had learnt to be his own man and was all the better for it. It was amazing. And the fact they issues were never made to appear like they were miraculously better but instead it was something they continually struggled with ups and downs. That is something people will find far easier to relate to than someone who is instantly better.
I loved how Annie was not seen as a cure for all of Charles issues and that Annie’s love for Charles grew from the simplistic love of the first book. She grew and changed and it wasn’t simply enough that she loved him any more. She realised he was more than that to her and that friendship love was something she could deal with. And Charles learnt that he had to want to grow for himself and not just one person. He realised that the things he thought he knew about himself weren’t necessarily true. And most importantly his character growth was not simply that he wanted to change for Annie but instead he realised he had an issue and spoke to a therapist! I loved that he wasn’t doing it alone (another cheer for good mental health care).
Basically, It Was Love
If you can’t already tell I was utterly enamoured with this second book, too. I know there were negatives, but they just aren’t substantial enough to shatter my love. I just really liked this book with its angst and drama to it and I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it even if it did resolve my complaints because it was perfect. This is what I want from my books. But I don’t want every book to be like this as it would be difficult to live up to this book for me. Emily Foster has won a lifetime fan and I do hope she continues to write romance. I’m off to debate buying Come as You Are to see how her science-y writing compares to her romance.
Have you read a book that you recognise has flawed but you still adored? And have you read either of Emily Foster’s books and want to share your feelings with me? (If not, why not? I mean seriously?)