i read how not to fall in one sitting it feels like, it was a quick, enjoyable read with lots and lots of sex. i'm putting that out there first, because if you don't like books with explicit and lots and lots of sex, then this is probably not the book for you. i am also going to advance warn you that this book is part 1 of a duology. so it totally ends on a cliffhanger and since i did not know that in advance i was a little bit frustrated and a little bit like "oh my god, how long do i have to wait for book 2?!" [the answer to that is not terribly long, just 7 months since it appears to be scheduled to publish in december 2016.]
this might seem weird, but i also researched the author a little bit after i read the book. the characters are super science nerds and what i learned about the author is that she has a phd and her area of study is human sexuality. and this all made so much sense to me. her background really does inform the book. i work in an academic setting and she described working in an academic research lab perfectly, which happens to be something that so rarely happens that i knew she had to have a background in what she was writing.
the other cool thing i learned is that part of her impetus for writing this book is that she read the 50 shades of grey books and was so frustrated and horrified by them that she felt obligated to write a sex-positive, feminist romance about characters in similar circumstances to anastasia and christian. full disclosure: i haven't ever read the shades of grey trilogy, i read an excerpt once and was horrified by how bad the writing was that i didn't even try to read the allegedly sexy parts. one thing i appreciate about those novels though is that they did seem to bring out into the open that reading erotica is normal thing to do.
and one thing that i liked about how not to fall is how the characters talk about and describe sex. one thing about romance novels is that they tend to use flowery prose to describe genitals and i always appreciate the novels that name body parts using their actual names. using the word penis or vagina shouldn't be unsexy. it should be normal, they happen to be generally the organs involved in sex. at least they are generally the main players, right. other things get involved but the penis and vagina get to be the stars of the show.
anyway, so like i said there is a lot of sex in this book. annabelle and charles are the ones having it. and they are hot together. annabelle is a super smart senior at indiana university who is moving to boston to get her md-phd at harvard. so she's brilliant. charles is a postdoc at the lab where annabelle works/studies at. she's in love-lust with him and propositions him during her last semester, but charles is an honorable guy and won't touch her until she's graduated. no matter how much he wants to. [an aside i just noticed that the character names begin with an/ch just like the ones from the e.l. james book, an homage perhaps? an acknowledgement that these novels may have sprung from the shades of grey books even though they are 100% better--at least as far as the writing goes.]
charles is a guy who likes to be in control. this isn't a bdsm novel, but the characters do fall into some sort of D/s roles. i actually read an interview with the author who describes charles as a service top, which is probably the best way to describe him. he likes to hold his pleasure back until annabelle has taken and received all the pleasure she possibly can. it's an interesting dynamic to read about. a lot of the science and psychology behind the story and the characters are really interesting. how not to fall is told entirely from annabelle's perspective, so at times charles can be frustrating as a character because we can't see his inner thoughts the way we do annabelle's. from the excerpt from how not to let go [book 2 of the series] i noticed that we did finally get a chapter from charles' pov and that will be an interesting addition to the story for book 2.
there is more than just sex here too. there's science and a story, and all of it is really good. i liked the characters, i was rooting for them, and given the way the story ended, i want more of them!
**how not to fall is scheduled to publish on june 28, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books. i received a copy in exchange for my honest review.