From the author of How Not to Fall comes an electrifying, powerful new story about love, trust, and emotional surrender.
Once upon a time, med student Annie Coffey set out to have a purely physical fling with Charles Douglas, a gorgeous British doctor in her lab. It didn’t quite work out that way. Instead, secrets—and desires—were bared, hearts were broken, and Annie knew she had to leave this complicated, compelling man who remains convinced he can never give her what she needs. Walking away is one thing. Staying away is another. Annie and Charles reunite at a London conference, rekindling a friendship they struggle to protect from their intense physical connection. Little by little, Annie gets a glimpse into Charles’s dark past and his wealthy, dysfunctional family. Soon, she’s discovering what it means to have someone claim her, body and soul. And she’s learning that once in a lifetime you find a love that can make you do anything…except let go.
So, first things first. This is technically a follow-up, but it's also a standalone. This book follows How Not To Fall, in which our MC Annie fell in love with who was essentially her teacher. You get the short version of it at the beginning of How Not To Let Go, but lemme tell you, you're really thrust right into it.
But I hadn't read HNTF and I caught on pretty quickly, so that's good.
Basically, Charles had been Annie's mentor and main support as an undergrad. Once she finished, they fell into bed together (they had a "Thing" between them) for a really intense couple weeks. But he can't fall in love with her because he is Horribly Broken, and she can't be around him for a while because she can't not be in love with him. She chooses where she's going to go for med school and eventually he comes back into her realm again. They're trying to be friends/professional contacts but also having very intense sex (because of The Thing) and taking care of each other when they're sick and stuff.
And talking. A lot.
Jesus Christ, there's so much talking.
There are a lot of a deep, philosophical talks between them. Because of Charles' Brokenness, he sees a therapist and they've drawn up a giant metaphor about his psychological state. It's something like this: He's trying to traverse a swamp and climb a mountain and fight a dragon who is his father and see the sun who is Annie except also Charles is the mountain and the dragon and the swamp too. And they talk about this so much.
It's great to be able to read characters who are working through their issues and who also have enough emotional maturity to be able to recognize other people for what they are. I also appreciate books that explore love as a risky thing that sometimes you just have to jump into. It's another when the characters are just having the same conversations over and over again. You lose the story.
In the end, this is a book that is all about the romance. Everything else is secondary. Annie's friendships, relationships with her parents, even her time in medical school is just dressing to this romance. All the other characters and their issues are, as well. Charles comes from an abusive family, but his dealing with it and his own aggression is just about getting him ready to finally get back to Annie at that 90% mark. Everything becomes boring and inconsequential, even when there is actually some serious stuff going on.
And you know what, sometimes that works. Sometimes that's all you want to read in a romance. If someone wanted to read about a doctor with a bad home life or a girl struggling with what she wants out of life, well there are tons of those out there. But in the end, I did not feel connected to our main characters at all. It's definitely a steamy book, but I didn't care if they ended up together or not. I wasn't rooting for them.
(On a side note, I also found it more than a little bothersome that a side character's stutter was written out every single time the character spoke.)
I don't know if How Not to Let Go depends a lot on readers' interest in the characters from the first book, but I'm not sure if it should matter. There should still be a concrete, cohesive story and characters who leap off the page.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Published by Kensington Books on December 27, 2016
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