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Jump Then Fall by Sarah Sanders

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ An unabashed, unapologetic romance with lots and lots of sizzling, superhot sex. Yummy! Ika and Ree work in a multinati...

Flavor of the Month by Georgia Beers

⭐⭐☆

In her acknowledgements right at the beginning of the book, Beers says that this book is about forgiveness and exploring the question whether people can change. She also lists a bunch of other questions that arose in her mind while writing this book. She’s answered them in the story with her beliefs about those questions, but we’re not convinced.

Charlie Stetko and Emma Grier were high school sweethearts and the first everything for each other as they discovered their sexuality together. They moved to different parts of the country to pursue their college education. During the final phase in college, Charlie is offered a job in Manhattan by a super successful and super smooth businesswoman, Darcy Wells, who also happens to be a known player. With little thought for Emma, Charlie grabs the opportunity and moves to New York without the slightest pang.

Five years later, Charlie finds herself returning to her parents in the small town of Shaker Falls (after not having seen them for two years). Darcy has dumped her. While on the high of living with Darcy in a penthouse in Central Park, Charlie had moved into volunteer work so she is financially down with nowhere to go. Her return home is grudging at best. (In fact, even as she is sitting outside the house, she is willing to turn back.) Charlie’s reluctance to be at home is inexplicable since she has an uncommonly loving family. In fact, her parents have even made a studio apartment for her in their basement to afford her whatever privacy she needs. They are desperately supportive of her every step of the way. Even friends she’d unceremoniously dropped welcome her with warmth and open arms. It’s not much later that Charlie learns that Emma is also back in Shaker Falls and owns a newly opened restaurant, EG.

Charlie spends time feeling rather sorry for herself, missing Darcy and sending Darcy numerous unanswered text messages. Finally she decides that she needs to work (with the unstated goal of getting enough money to leave Shaker Falls) and what do you know! Her mom has explored possible openings for her and has a job lined up. So Charlie becomes the pie maker at a local bakery. The bakery and EG exchange food with each other, so Charlie starts running into Emma more and more. Despite how shabbily Charlie had treated her, and despite the two and a half years of therapy that Emma needed after Charlie dumped her, Emma finds herself still attracted to Charlie.

Second chances romances are tricky. They only work if both the MCs are likeable and the reasons for the separation the first time are understandable. The reasons can be circumstantial or temporary emotions like fear or something. But when the reason for the failure of the relationship is personality based, it is more difficult to sympathise.

Some of the questions Beers explored while writing this book are: Do we deserve to be forgiven for our mistakes or is lost trust gone forever? Do those mistakes define us? So the key here is ‘mistakes’. Charlie doesn’t make ‘mistakes’ in her behaviour. She makes choices which are entirely based on her personality. Her choices are driven by what she wants in life. We have no argument with a person following their ambitions but we do have a problem with calling their choices ‘mistakes’. In fact, the only person who seemed to have the appropriate reaction to Charlie’s return is her younger sister.

What is interesting is that despite everything, Charlie is not dislikeable. In fact, she is undependable (even in her new job), unremittingly selfish and entirely self-centred but very strangely she is an okay person to have around and be around – a good hail-fellow-well-met person to hang around with. Just not someone anyone should invest even the tiniest emotion or trust in.

Emma is totally understandable even though she apparently seems to be breaking a lot of hearts. To her credit, though, she’s upfront about her disinterest in turning her some-nights-stands into a relationship. Usually breaking hearts behaviour puts us off a character, but Emma doesn’t seem bad at all. Even her attraction towards Charlie is entirely possible because getting over a first love, particularly one that shattered you, is very, very difficult.

At the end of the book, we feel that it can only be a HFN, not a HEA. Charlie is the same person that she was at the beginning of the book. We don’t see her lasting long in Shaker Falls, obsessed as she is by ‘big city’. What we do hope is that this time when they split, Emma is the one who moves on.

The book is well written, but didn’t work for us. 

⭐⭐☆

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