I think it’a now a truth, universally acknowledged, that I think I am addicted to the trope of the recent flux of Billionaires and innocent heroines. Although I feel I should get tired by this premise, I don’t. It does have the crack factor which is ironic since I’m not a huge fan of Harlequin Presents. But the recent flux with this trope is just pure addictive for me. And FALLING IN definitely provided a good fix for me, although it did have its flaws.
The premise of the book is basically a Cinderella meets Pretty Woman. The struggling heroine, Scout, is homeless and is caring for her heroin addicted mother. Despite her problems, Scout manages to start a new job as a maid at the swankiest hotel in town. Cue the hero, Lucien Patras, who owns the hotel and is an alphahole extraordinaire–so much so that he reminded me of the old skool Harlequin Presents 70s heroes but without the mustache. He likes to shout on the phone when dealing with his incompetent minions, he broods, and his smile beats Prince Charming who has nothing on the hero when flirts and smexes up the ladies.
So when Scout catches Lucien’s attention, he decides that he must have her and offers her the chance to be his mistress, just like any self-respecting, albeit charming, alphahole does. Scout, who is attracted to him, accepts the terms he states, which is physically based and she must attend to his social functions. But Scout is determined to carry on with her duties as a maid, much to detriment of Lucien who feels she doesn’t need to work.
Now this where the book started to falter a bit for me. While the premise and the introduction of the characters held great promise, there was a lot unevenness, especially with the way Scout and Lucien started their relationship. It actually got a bit exhausting because they would take one step forwards and then two steps back when a misunderstanding happened. When Lucien finds out that Scout is a virgin, he blows hot and cold because he feels like he’s not good enough for her. I think this is an issue with a lot of these books with this trope which has the innocent heroine sucked into her first taste of sexuality by domineering heroes, with tones of BDSM. But I liked how later in the book Scout was more open, and was willing to explore what Lucien offered which sums up the tone of their sexual relationship.
“That does sound delightful,” he purred. “But unfortunately I must be going. I think I can manage until tomorrow, but I’ll you to attend to my needs first thing. I don’t like coming second unless the foreplay’s truly worth it.”
I think the emotional factors in their relationship were much more messy, and I felt some of the reasons why they disagreed didn’t make sense. But when the book switches to Lucien’s POV midway, it became more clearer, although, I found the realisation of him being in love with Scout was rushed. Another factor which I felt was unrealistic was the portrayal of homelessness and addiction in the book. It was never defined on how long Scout and her mother were homeless, although she stated she was homeless for the whole of her life and she was born in an alley addicted as a baby to heroin due to her mother’s addicton. I could not believe the authorities could not have acted on taking her in care, especially since her mother was a drug addict and Scout was brought into hospital to be treated for pneumonia. I also felt the depiction of her mother was very one dimensional, and I just couldn’t connect to this subplot because it felt like a cliche for me. But at the same time, it felt like a fairytale with the way realism of these aspects was treated, I am in two minds on how this played out because I did enjoy these factors but at the same time I was consternated about the lack of realism.
I also didn’t understand why Scout didn’t like her original name and went under her nickname. Things were not explained and it felt like there should have been more hints about her past and family. I suspect there will be a huge twist about this in the future books, but there should have been more groundwork, about her past history. But this sets up the reason why Scout was unable to read or write which made this one of the interesting aspects of her character’s development in the book. And I loved the scene towards the end of the book which involved love notes written by Lucien and the revelation of her illiteracy was raised. It really made up for the alphahole behaviour from the beginning, and I really liked how their relationship evolved, which was sweet and passionate.
The potential of the subplot concerning Scout’s best friend, Parker, who is also homeless–and is in love with her–sets up a major conflict in the future which hints of drama and a kink in the contentment between Lucien and Scout. But the promise of the story behind Parker’s past also hints of some fun twists which will I suspect will be over the top and entertaining.
FALLING IN does have flaws, big ones, especially the uneven beginning with the emotional elements with the to and froing with the main leads, and the unrealism of the homeless plot. On the other hand, this book felt like a contemporary fairytale and it really works, because it had all the hallmarks of one. And it was highly enjoyable even though Lucien was an overbearing alphahole but he shared great chemistry with Scout. Their romance definitely reminded of an old skool romance. However, if you can ignore the flaws this book really has the crack factor.
I give FALLING IN a C+