>> Thursday, August 18, 2005
I've wanted to read Fallen From Grace, by Laura Leone since it first came out. I was patient enough to wait for the paperback and bought a copy of it together with a friend, who also wanted to read it, only for it to get lost in the mail. Grrrr!!
Luckily, Tara Marie was kind enough to trade her copy with me, so I've finally managed to read it.
With her writing career on the skids, author Sara Diamond moves into a much cheaper apartment. There she meets neighbor Ryan Kinsmore. They become fast friends and their ties grow tighter, eventually turning friendship into love. But Ryan hides a dark truth: He's a high-priced male escort whose sexual expertise is a prime commodity.FFG didn't disappoint my very high expectations. It actually exceeded them somewhat. It's not often that I read two A books in the same weekend, and this one was actually an A+!
Forced onto the streets as a teenager, Ryan got trapped in a world of danger, sex, abuse and lies. His "rescue" by a powerful madam named Catherine seemed a gift of life at the time, but it came with a very high price tag. Can Ryan find a way out of this dangerous world? Can Sara accept his past?
It's a real shame wasn't released by a big publisher, because I wish more people had had access to it. I do understand why the biggies might have thought it too much of a risk, though. My own guess is that the main problem wasn't the prostitution thing per se (Gaelen Foley's Alec seems to be considered a perfectly viable hero, after all), but that Ryan's so much the victim of his pimp.
My impression is that, for most romance readers, a hero can do just about anything, no matter how mean and/or "depraved", and they won't bat an eye, he's still considered heroic. However, if he's perceived to be in a position of weakness, or, at least, in a position that he's not the one in power, it seems to make a lot of people uncomfortable and they can't see him as heroic. Well, that's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. It would also explain the lack of success of such gems as The Iron Rose and Heart of Deception.
Anyway onto the book itself. Considering FFG doesn't draw back from the darkness of Ryan's life, it's a surprisingly sweet and romantic book. Ryan himself is a lovely character, one that I was happy to root for. I loved his honor in the face of all he had been through, the way he was brave enough to do what was right when it came to his relationship with Sara and tell her the whole truth, even when he knew perfectly well that it almost certainly meant dashing every hope he might have with her.
I thought Leone's portrayal of Ryan's complicated relationship with his pimp, Catherine, was one of the book's strengths. At no time did I blame Ryan for his seeming inability to get out of this life he professed to dislike. I knew he should, I knew he could, if he wanted to, and that it wouldn't be that complicated to do, realistically, but Catherine's hold over him had so many layers, and such compelling ones, that his reluctance was understandable.
And so was Sara's, when it came to taking the necessary chances that starting something with Ryan involved. I found Sara a very human, very realistic character. Her fears were perfectly sensible, and so was her cautiousness. I loved that even though she was powerfully drawn to Ryan and already pretty much in love with him, she still had enough self-respect to refuse to put herself in a position she would have been unhappy with. It couldn't have been easy to hand Ryan an ultimatum the way she did, especially for a woman with Sara's level of self doubt, but she was brave enough to know she had to, even though in the short term, it probably would have been less complicated to try and ignore things. She knew she wasn't going to be able to do that and be happy, so she took this huge, corageous step.
Seeing Sara and Ryan slowly fall in love and build an increasing intimacy between them was one of the best reading experiences I've had in ages. FFG showcases different kinds of love, from the romantic, to the fraternal, to the sickly possessive, and it does this wonderfully.
This is a character-based book, but it does have a couple of secondary subplots, what with Sara's sister Miriam's new lifestyle and Ryan befriending a street boy who reminds him of his old life. Both of them were pretty good, though I did feel I could have done with a bit more about Adam, especially near the end.
Sara's reactions to Miriam's revelations were especially good. I really expected her to be very matter-of-fact about it all, so it was interesting to see that she did have a few hang-ups, hang-ups she dealt with as best she could.
But this was just icing on the cake. Sara and Ryan's relationship was more than beautiful enough to carry the whole book. A real treasure!
Before I end this post, some good news: browsing through Leone's website, I found the following, here:
A New Series by Laura Resnick!
Mystery, romance, comedy, and fantasy combined!
At least in theory.
Coming in 2005 from Luna Books, beginning withDisappearing NightlyAn actress determined to find work despite the interference of demented sorcerers, demonic gangsters, and deranged zombies.
A four hundred year old wizard trying protect New York City from Evil.
A skeptical cop with an unexpected destiny.
The one thing they have in common is their conviction that our heroine's next performance will be her last if she can't find out why actresses all over the city are vanishing right before the eyes of their audiences.
Also, a good news / bad news thing. Looking for more info on that one, I found a page which mentions One Good Night, by Mercedes Lackey, which will be book # 2 in the Five Hundred Kingdoms series (first book is The Fairy Godmother, which I raved about on Monday). It's coming out on January 2006, which sounded really far away the first time I read the date, but I now realize is only in 5 months' time. Time's really flown this year *sigh*
Anyway, bad news is it will come out in HC. I wonder if it might be released in ebook format? Otherwise I'm going to have to start asking the gods that someone will be travelling to the US about then and will agree to bring me a copy!