First, do not judge this book by its cover, because I don’t even know what the cover is. Hands with red stripes of ambiguous origin, what does that say to you? I’ll tell you what it does not say: twentysomething tattooed guy and girl having all the sex in all the ways in all the places. And that’s what this book is about, basically.
Emma, the narrator, ditches her past and hops a Greyhound bus to Astoria, Oregon, because that’s where The Goonies was filmed. That’s as good a reason as any, but sadly it’s a throwaway fact, barely mentioned again. She heads to a bar to get drunk and go home with a guy so that she doesn’t have to find a place to stay on her first night. She ultimately rejects the guy who bought her beer all night, which makes him mad, but then Aiden comes to the rescue and pulls drunk Emma out of the bar.
Aiden and drunk Emma have an argument over whether they will have sex (she says yes, he says no), then she sleeps in his guest room and leaves the next morning without seeing him. Based upon that interaction, Aiden decides to overcome two years of solitary lurking and sadness by asking Emma to be his girlfriend and move in with him.
What follows over the course of a few days is a relationship in fast forward. They have sex. Aiden gets mad at the thought of Emma sleeping with other guys before him. He apologizes. They have sex. Aiden gets mad because Emma had some trouble at work and didn’t immediately tell him about it. He smashes his stereo. He apologizes. They have sex. Emma gets jealous because the woman working at the record store gives Aiden a look. Aiden is turned on by Emma’s jealousy. They have sex.
Erotica is not my genre, so I don’t know if I should be upset that the sex takes the place of any relationship building. I don’t even know if this is erotica, technically. So I’ll just mention my observations and what worked or didn’t work for me.
Emma is a harsh character. Her inner monologue is full of swearing, self-deprecating jokes, and whirlwind emotions. She calls herself a bitch and a slut. She says that, back in high school, “I never wanted to be the girl who fell for a guy. Love was not something that held any interest to me… I never wanted to get hurt by someone or be controlled by my feelings.” Why? It’s not explained. Did she have a bad experience or is that just how she is? She disparages her responses with, “damn you female emotions,” as if she’s repulsed by any part of her that seems stereotypically feminine. It could be seen as just a very dry sense of humor, but personally I found her grating.
Aiden, meanwhile, is a typical tortured, haunted, jealous, possessive, angry guy who is also a hot, rich, former rock star. Emma falls in love with him instantly, even though at first he makes her close her eyes when they’re together, or he blindfolds her, because he has body issues. The main problem with Aiden is that he jumps into a wannabe committed relationship with Emma when he has absolutely no coping skills and is emotionally incapable of being in one. But he’s good in bed.
And there’s this: Aiden tells Emma his tragic life story wherein his dad burned his leg and then he was in a car accident and lost his hand, so he has a prosthetic hand. I’m pretty sure that, when he fingered her from behind when they were in the shower, he used two hands to at least grab her hips, so the fake hand is really talented! Also, one day Emma is getting ready for work and doesn’t have time for sex, so Aiden says he’ll have to masturbate. Emma tells him to do it now, while she watches, which turns him on so he does. While he’s jerking off, she orders him to grab his balls with his other hand, which he does, and I just kept shouting “It’s a prosthetic hand! How would it even feel good to grope yourself with a prosthetic hand! How can you not hurt yourself?” And then later he decides to play the piano for the first time since his accident and he messes up a little but generally it’s fine, so this must be the most magical of prosthetic hands in all the world. Good for him.
[Aside: My cousin-in-law, earning a PhD in Bioengineering, informs me that with a muscle-activated prosthetic, rudimentary piano chords might be possible. There are also prosthetics that attach to the nervous system and are thought-controlled, but they are new and not widely available. Let's pretend that Aiden has one of those and move along from my misgivings in the above paragraph, okay?]
The best part of the book was when, after Aiden worries about other men harassing Emma at her job at the bar and he asks her to quit, Emma says, “What am I supposed to do? Never have a job, because I have boobs and a vagina?…I can’t help what people do or how they act towards me. It always feels like your [sic] blaming me for the shit that happens.” I wanted to high-five her for that bracing awareness of reality.
The worst part of the book was the ending. This book is the first in a proposed trilogy, so to say that it ends with a relationship cliffhanger shouldn’t surprise you. But the way it’s handled, and more specifically the way it is not handled reasonably or maturely by either character, really bothered me.
The sex is frequent, adventurous, and steamy, and the book moves quickly. I’d recommend reading a sample chapter to see if Emma’s narration works for you or not. It didn’t work for me, and the relationship moved too fast to be emotionally engaging. I’ve used the word “emotion” a lot in this review, because this book elicited some strong ones in me, although they weren’t all positive. Still, it held my attention, so that’s something.
*Book provided by author for review
Click to purchase: Amazon
We Fight, We Fall
by Nicole Callesto
Release Date: August 14, 2013