Review: How Not To Fall by Emily Foster

Reviewed by Joanna

Here’s a smart NA story for your delectation, with a focus on sexual exploration between Annie, our narrator, an undergraduate in medicine, and Charles, the man of her fantasies – a 4-years-older postdoc at her research lab, with blond good looks and a side dish of attachment disorder. Well.

At the beginning of the tale, earnest Annie is gearing up to ask Charles for a sexual relationship. She thinks they have A Thing, and despite being inexperienced, wants to explore that before she goes off to Boston for eight years of medical school. She is whip smart but doesn’t see herself as pretty, so is nervous he’ll refuse.

He does.

At first.

See, Englishman Charles, also whip smart, can’t date one of his students as it’s unethical, even though he really really wants to. Tension builds as the end of Annie’s studies loom.

The day she’s no longer under him as a student, she’s under him, well, you know what I mean. They unleash on one another, but slowly and by degrees. Annie informs Charles of her limited experience when they are negotiating the terms of their one month of passion (because they are so used to talking in structured ways), so Charles decides they will use the American Base system to slow things down a little. First base today, second base tomorrow. Very teasing is our Momma Duck (what the lab students-ducklings-call him).

He’s also very sweet and caring, though with a hint of a dark side that makes him that much more interesting. Plus they talk to each other in neurological lingo, and he has Annie earning an orgasm by recalling a list of medical terms. It’s cute, geeky and kind of adorable.

And then he kisses me, deeply and slowly—and has to stop when he starts laughing. “Come on, I want to fuck you while you name the cranial nerves. Is that so much to ask?” He bites my earlobe and whispers, “Do it, or I won’t let you come until tomorrow, and that’s twenty-three hours away.”

I don’t think I’ve read a romance quite like this before. It isn’t perfect, but it stood out in the field with a strong intellectual and feminist bent which I loved, and thorough research, which is not surprising from the pen of an academic.

The problem with Annie and Charles’ 4-week-only deal is feelings happen. Of course they do. The bigger problem is Charles has issues with love following a pretty awful childhood.

Thank God the author didn’t use the Magic Vagina solution to fix him. I might have wanted to stab or punch him for not being what Annie wanted-the guy is so chill about what’s wrong with him-but I respected the story more for honoring his genuine condition.

The time this couple spend together is really lovely, and super hot too. Charles likes to dominate, including giving Annie as many orgasms as he can wring out of her before he finally gets his on her exhausted body. He is a giver and generous in his offerings. Someone I was talking to about this found it weird that this was how he got off. I didn’t mind it as I liked him and we tolerate weirdness from those we like, right?

They go climbing together as he teaches her his hobby, and she invites him to watch her dance, which is her hobby. They are the stuck-like-glue type, and as the move to Boston loomed big, I couldn’t see a way in which this resolved.

I need to mention here that this book does not conclude Annie and Charles’ story. The essential HEA does not occur. There’s the huge issues from his past (boy does Charles have history) which seemed as insurmountable as Annie’s move across country.

The pair aren’t over-dramatic. Annie has a fresh outlook on her word, without deliberate candour or art, she’s upbeat about her sexual and emotional discoveries. Charles is a gentleman and fun. Despite all the tragedy I never felt despondent for them.

I’m leaping right on to book two as I have to know how this ends.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

How Not to Fall
by Emily Foster
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Kensington

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