Fall For Me
The only way I could finish this book was by making sure it was the only thing I took with me on a long airplane flight. Even then, I only read it after finishing Air Canada’s entire En Route magazine (including the feature on monogrammed beachwear), the emergency evacuation card, and the Skymall catalogue. Overall, it was less engaging than reading the oxygen mask instructions. In French. Which I don’t speak.
Beth Denton has three problems: a (previous) weight problem, a relationship problem, and a pregnancy problem. These problems overlap: the hunky, fabulous Nick Merimon is the father of her baby, she doesn’t think she’s good-looking enough for him, and she’s worried about becoming overweight again (and, in her mind, even less worthy of Nick) during her pregnancy. Frankly, Beth is a head case. She has serious, serious issues. Issues like going on a blind date while pregnant with Nick’s child because she just knows Nick will leave her. Issues like skipping meals while pregnant, so afraid of getting fat that she never even thinks about what this might mean for the fetus until she has a complication. Issues like hiding a sandwich in the couch cushions so Nick will think she ate it. Issues which are resolved in two paragraphs in the epilogue. Let me make it clear that I do not object to the issues. I object to the two paragraphs.
I’m assuming we met Nick in a previous book, because there is absolutely no relationship development in Fall for Me. I have never seen a non-erotica book push characters into sex so quickly. The first sex scene is on page 20, when Nick gives in by saying “F***, Beth, screw it! I tried to be good, but I have got to have you now.” This is only his eighth line of dialogue. Precisely how long was he trying to be good?
In the old Mary Tyler Moore show, Mary tells her landlady Phyllis that Betty White’s character is beautiful, and Phyllis replies, “It must be on some level I can’t perceive, like ultraviolet light, or those whistles only dogs can hear.” This is how I felt about the humor in this novel. Beth narrates a sex scene to her sister Suzy in graphic detail, causing Suzy to gag and joke about Beth and Nick having done it on her kitchen counter. Beth and Nick accidentally roll over on Nick’s phone, calling Nick’s mother during sex. Suzy utters the phrase “shut-to-the-up,” which Nick considers “funny as hell.” Perhaps Nick can also hear dog whistles.
Quick hits on the other problems: Telling, not showing, as when Beth and Nick’s entire relationship leading up to the pregnancy is recapped by Beth to Suzy rather than experienced by the reader. Repetitive writing – if you enjoyed the sex scene on page 20, you can read it again from Nick’s point of view on page 45. Characters who are pretty much just jerks. Beth, Nick, and Suzy ridicule shy coworker Ella’s crush on hot coworker Declan, with Suzy saying to Ella’s face that Declan is “way out of her league.” Suzy tells her husband, Nick’s brother, that Beth is pregnant with Nick’s child without Beth’s permission and knowing that Beth has not yet told Nick. Everybody tells everybody everything about each other’s body image issues, sex lives, etc. It’s like Mean Girls except, as discussed, not actually funny.
I flirted with the idea of giving this book a D-, because body image and pregnancy make for an interesting conflict, and at one point Nick stands up to Beth’s parents when they criticize her. However, the shallow resolution trivialized the severity of the issue, making it worse than if she hadn’t tackled the topic at all. Add to that the poor writing, annoying characters, and the fact that I had to trap myself at 20,000 feet in order to finish it, and I think I will stand by the F.