Looking objectively at his actions, she had a hard time finding anything to fault. He’d called her a couple of times and left messages, first to check on her and then later to reschedule. Not enough to be pushy, more persistent and out of concern. She didn’t know why she hadn’t returned his calls, except she remembered the way he’d looked at her when they reached the bottom of the mountain. She wasn’t sure what it meant, but she was pretty sure it was safer not to find out.
– Falling Free (Locations 256-259)
From Amazon: Amanda Southerland has a job she loves and a solid relationship with a man who looks great on paper. If it all feels a little hollow, so what? She’s got nothing to complain about. Her life is running like clockwork. That is until she slides down the side of a mountain and crashes into the cocky gym rat who’s exactly the kind of guy she avoids. He’s all muscle, no finesse, and if she can’t stop thinking about him, it’s just because he irritates her. Nothing more.
Michael Dean’s finally opened the gym of his dreams. He doesn’t have time for a relationship and he’s absolutely not looking for love – not until the beautiful rock climber practically falls into his lap. Meeting Amanda has reordered his priorities, even if she’s stubbornly racing toward a future with the wrong guy. She may not know that he’s her happily ever after, but he’s determined to make her fall again – right into his arms.
Ms Adams has an extremely easy writing style, making this story a very quick read. I think that I found one very minor grammatical error, though there may have been others but they would have passed me by as the flow of narrative made this book a page turner.
I’ve not read anything else by this author, but I hope that all of her books are this easy to appreciate.
“His tone when he’d talked about their time together had been more admiring than patronizing, and she wondered if she’d misjudged him. Based on his appearance. It was the thing she hated the most, and realizing she might be guilty of it herself didn’t sit well.” (Locations 254-256)
“For his part, Michael had been an almost perfect partner. If he had an ego, he didn’t let it get in the way. He kept a low profile and seemed to instinctively know how to make things easier for her. It was really starting to wear on her nerves.” (Locations 1070-1072)
I can see that the author tried to belay tropes that always dominate the romance genre. So, there is a strong, buff, charming business owner who doesn’t throw dominance around like an “alpha”. He is capable of admitting when he isn’t the authority on an activity or event. He is patient and not too damaged from a past relationship to look for love again. We also have the tenacious but reserved hiking guide, who is comfortable with her body and enjoys when her significant other participates in activities that she loves. she is also loyal and holds on to unworthy people for too long.
Even though Ms Adams tried to create a lot of gender neutrality, there were still quirks in the writing that undid these attempts. Michael admits that Amanda is the better rock climber, to himself, and it is deliberately stated that this is not a problem for him and that he recognised that woman can be better at certain activities than men. Then, this happens:
“He had no interest in meeting a snake either, but there was no way he could back down. Not without looking like a total girl.” (Locations 1897-1898)
Fear of snakes, or anything else for that matter, and not wanting to complete a task because of fear is not a female thing but this is the sort of language that reaffirms the idea that woman are the “weaker” sex (and I don’t mean physically). A for Effort though.
There were a few things that I really liked about this book and others that I’m not sure about, but there is nothing that I hate outright. It felt like the pace of the story was trying to mimic a hike, as it had a steady and unrushed quality about it. At the same time, that very quality meant that the ending was a little anticlimactic for me. I think that if Ms Adams had put as much gusto into building suspense and lengthening certain confrontations, as she did into describing the scenery and the finer details of rock climbing, rappelling and survival hiking, this story would have been stellar. The book isn’t amazing, it isn’t bad, and it isn’t even mediocre. It’s a little of each, depending on the aspects you choose to criticise. Even the moment where our protagonists fall into each others arms and are meant to have cataclysmic sex was smooth, steady and measured.
These were some of the most understanding and well-rounded characters I have ever encountered, always willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, and never playing dirty. Very early on Amanda realises that she has judged Michael on his appearance, the very thing that she loathes begin done to her. Thereafter, she is very rational and often takes a step back to reevaluate the situation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this but it felt like Ms Adams took an easy route. I would have preferred her characters to have more passion and heart. Honestly, the characters came across as Facebook profiles, where all you see is one aspect of someone’s life, i.e. their pictures of the hikes they take every Saturday, and the update about how much they were able to lift at the gym. There were moments where the characters were almost real but those scenes were cut short and left me hanging.
My rating: 3½/5
Buy Falling Free on Amazon.
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