Sunday, July 29, 2018

DNF Review: Falling Hard

I was in the audience when Falling Hard by Lexi Ryan won the RITA for Best Contemporary Romance: Long.  During her acceptance speech, something she said set off my "Ooooh, I love angst" alarm and literally, while siting in the audience, I hopped on my phone and downloaded this book from the library.

And now I'm DNF'ing it at 35%.  I just can't.  And I'm going to tell you why "I just can't."  So consider that your warning for Spoilers Ahoy!

I used to really love first person.  I was, after all, a mystery/suspense reader long before I "found" romance and that particular genre is laden with first person.  But, hand to God romance genre, STOP TRYING TO KILL MY LOVE OF FIRST PERSON!  Ahem.  Yep.  This is dueling first person point-of-view, alternating between hero and heroine.  And just for added kicks, WE ALSO GET FLASHBACKS!!!!  On top of that?  This is New Adult.  Look, I've been reading romance a long time (pretty constantly for 20+ years) and I like to think that just past 40 isn't all THAT old.  But god damn this book made me feel old.  Oh, and the characters pissed me off.  But more on that in a moment.

Emma Rothschild is a former child actress with a dark past.  I gave up before I found out what her Big Secret is, but I'm guessing it's some sort of sexual abuse/assault.  Anyway, her mother is, like, the worst, she's not acting anymore, and she's heading to Vegas with her BFF for a girl's weekend/bachelorette party (her BFF is getting married).  Anyway, her BFF hooks her up with a hot wardrobe and wig so nobody will recognize her.  Because even though she's out of acting, Emma is still a TMZ darling.

Keegan was a college football star, and just got picked up by an NFL team as a free agent (in other words: he's a making-league-minimum kind of player).  He also owns a bar back in his college town (or hometown or whatever - this is part of a series - blah, blah, blah it's all a rich tableau).  Anyway, he got a girl knocked up and now he's a Daddy.  He loves his daughter but couldn't make a relationship with her mother work because she fell for some hotshot quarterback (because of course she did).  Keegan seems nice, so I decide I hate her guts.  Anyway, he goes to Vegas for what's supposed to be a bachelor party for his buddy, but the buddy's woman (and friends!) tag along so it's turned into a couple's weekend thing.  That's when he spots Emma at a nightclub and cannot believe his eyes.  They had a "thing" 5 years ago before she dumped him like a hot potato - with no explanation.  And he's never gotten over her.

OK, so the set-up here has some promise, despite being book four in a series and laden with past couples.  Emma's got secrets, Keegan's got secrets and a complicated life, and we've got the ol' Reunited Lovers trope.  The writing style wasn't doing much for me, other than making me feel frackin' old, but whatever.  I mean, this did win a RITA, so roll with it Wendy.

Then we get to the first sex scene.  The morning after, our couple wakes up with their same secretive baggage with a side of added regrets.  However, they don't have much time to dwell on it since THE HEROINE'S FIANCE SHOWS UP AND KNOCKS ON THE HOTEL ROOM DOOR!


No set-up.  No foreshadowing.  This little nugget is dropped like a fart in an elevator.

And just when you decide you want to yank her hair out by the roots for hurting Mr. Nice Guy hero?  Guess what?  The author drops the bombshell that Keegan was raised by a Con Man Daddy.  When Keegan "met" Emma 5 years ago?  Yeah, Keegan (all on his own) orchestrated the "meet cute" in order to meet Emma so HE COULD CON HER!!!!

Then, presumably, he falls in twu wuv and she breaks his fee-fees and five years later we get him boinking her in Vegas not knowing she's engaged.



And that's where I tapped out.  Between the dueling first-person (WITH FLASHBACKS!!!), coupled with two characters who wouldn't know honest it if bit them in the butt I'm beyond caring.  Done.  Done done donity done done.

Final Grade = DNF 


azteclady said...

I have trouble dropping in in the middle of series because (seems to me, old fogey that I am) that many authors have not learned the art of not crowding every new book with every character from every previous book in their series universe.

Add the hot mess that the setup sounds like (seriously? having a stupid one night stand while engaged? why? WHY???), and that would be plenty reason not to read this one.

And don't even get me started on the issues of dueling first person narration; I've read maybe two authors who don't make my head explode. Talk about feeling old, when it seems it's literally all the rage these days.

Wendy said...

It's implied her engagement isn't what it seems but, ugh. I just couldn't anymore.

I was thinking about the dueling first person trend and pretty sure the only author who does it that works for me is Molly O'Keefe's recent work.

Lori said...

I usually go through the list of RITA winners to see if there are any that I need to add to my TBR. Thank you for letting me know that I can skip over this one. New Adult with dueling first person narrators is a big old nope before you even get to the rest of the mess. My TBR list is sooooo long that at this point I sincerely appreciate being saved from adding to it.

Carole Rae said...

Ugh but it sounded so good. Bummer!!!!

BevBB said...

I'm not sure what it says that I don't necessarily read "review" posts on most blogs unless I'm actively looking for info about a specific book but I still follow your blog just to catch the ones that you don't like cause they are so doggone entertaining. o.O

With regards to the dueling first person romance, yeck. I mean there is a time and a place for first person. But hopping from head to head in a ROMANCE in first person? Chick lit with man lit as a side bonus? Uh, yeah, it would have be the greatest novel ever written to sell me on that one.

As to the romantic "setup", I think that's called soap opera...

willaful said...

But Wendy, how can there be any angst if nobody is a horrible person?

TBH, this doesn't sound terrible to me at all. I'm fine with alternating first person and over-the-top scenarios, if the book is compelling enough.

Wendy said...

Lori: I've tried with New Adult, but I just can't. I have a long history of enjoying first person, so it's not that. Maybe it's the immaturity of the "voice?" Maybe I've been reading the wrong books? Maybe I'm just too old and cranky? So far the only New Adult novel that has worked for me was Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino and that was an instance where I had ALL sorts of issues but the author's "voice" sucked me in.

Carole: And you may like it! My track record with New Adult is sh*t.

BevBB: I should have quit this book after the first few chapters. The author's voice did NOT click for me AT ALL. And I'm not smart enough to put my finger on why. All I can say is this was "bad first person" for me and I'm a first person lover from WAY back. Mysteries predominantly, but I've loved some romances in first person. But ugh, there's a ton of first person in the genre these days (sideeyeing self-publishing HARD here) that isn't very good. Says me.

Willaful: And I think that was it for me. From the first couple of chapters I found the writing so un-compelling that it couldn't carry me past the characters doing/being horrible. I mean, I'm fine with horrible characters (hello, I read Presents!) but there has to be something there to carry me to the end when said characters will, hopefully, get some form of comeuppance before the HEA. Looking at reviews, I'm very much in the minority here (oh, what else is new...) - which I'm chalking up to my continued poo-pooing of New Adult in general.

And seriously, I thought I had fixed the Blogger not notifying me of new comments thing and apparently not. Damn you Google!

BevBB said...

I wasn't going to comment again, but I had to look up New Adult. Kinda wish I hadn't cause now I'm just depressed...