21 June 2016
How Not to Fall by Emily Foster
In her witty and breathtakingly sexy novel, Emily Foster introduces a story of lust, friendship, and other unpredictable experiments. . .
Data, research, scientific formulae--Annabelle Coffey is completely at ease with all of them. Men, not so much. But that's all going to change after she asks Dr. Charles Douglas, the postdoctoral fellow in her lab, to have sex with her. Charles is not only beautiful, he is also adorably awkward, British, brilliant, and nice. What are the odds he'd turn her down?
Very high, as it happens. Something to do with that whole student/teacher/ethics thing. But in a few weeks, Annie will graduate. As soon as she does, the unlikely friendship that's developing between them can turn physical--just until Annie leaves for graduate school. Yet nothing could have prepared either Annie or Charles for chemistry like this, or for what happens when a simple exercise in mutual pleasure turns into something as exhilarating and infernally complicated as love.
I don't read very many contemporary romances and even fewer New Adult romances (historicals are my jam). However. A few weeks ago, I was listening to a Smart Bitches podcast where the sex educator and researcher Emily Nagoski was talking about her book Come as You Are (which is EXCELLENT, of course, go read it) and women's sexual health, and oh yes, by the way her New Adult contemporary coming out in June, How Not to Fall, under the pseudonym Emily Foster.
Which was written partly as a counter to the problematic aspects regarding consent and sexual experiences in the 50 Shades series.
Whose main character is a super-smart neuroscience Indiana University undergrad who is going to the MD/PhD program at MIT.
Who is also a dancer.
Who has decided that before she graduates and leaves Bloomington she is going to proposition the smoking hot, adorkable, English postdoc in her lab.
This. Book. Is. SO. GOOD. Annie is one of the smartest, sweetest, strongest, and most vulnerable heroines I have ever come across. She's vulnerable precisely because she gives of herself wholeheartedly, whether it is her research or her dancing or her heart. The book is narrated entirely from Annie's perspective, in the first person, and she's such a fascinating character. (I identify with Annie so much for various reasons I won't go into here, but if you think she seems a bit much I can attest to the fact that she is basically me and this is the story of my junior/senior year of college with a few alterations.)
The absolute best, best part of this book is the wonderful exploration of the sexual relationship (and the intertwining personal feelings) between Annie and Charles. Although Charles is the one who clearly has all the sexual experience - that Annie would like to benefit from - he is explicit in demanding that Annie must give him consent for any activity they undertake. He is firm in abiding by the letter of the University rules about relationships between students and supervisors. He takes Annie climbing at the gym (I had never thought of that as a sexy activity but whoa). Everything is extremely sex-positive and consent-positive and Annie trusts him implicitly. And that is how Charles breaks her heart - he holds himself back from her.
Emily Foster has a gift. I have never ugly-cried over a romance novel and this one made me do just that - this is raw and sweet and honest and too real. And Jesus, did that ending just twist the knife. This is possibly the most-real relationship I have ever read in a romance. And even though the sex is spectacular, even though I'd really like to know if Charles has a real-life counterpart, the nuts and bolts making up this couple are outstanding. And then there's all the science stuff and neurobiology and dancing and Wodehouse and the rest of this book is basically one giant epic nerd purr.
I tweeted Emily BECAUSE FEELINGS. And she told me there's a sequel!!!!! So all is not lost! We'll get more Annie and Charles (and, apparently, Charles's perspective as well for some chapters)!
How Not to Fall is out June 28, next Tuesday - you know you want this!!
Dear FTC: I received a DRC of this book via NetGalley.