Book Review: When We Fall by Marquita Valentine

This book drew me in fast and kept me up late, not just because it hit several of my top tropes, but because it was so beautifully written that I spent most of the first half of the book in a state of emotional mush.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A shy young woman trying to make it on her own after her parents disown her moves in with her best friend’s brother, who also happens to be the “bad boy” she’s had feelings for since they were teenagers. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Bad Boy With a Sensitive Side
Jase is the rough bad boy who really isn’t all that bad. He did a seven year stint in prison for an altercation that got a little out of hand. Now that he’s back, he’s decided to indulge himself in easy sex and a loose, solitary lifestyle. But then he’s put in close proximity with Piper, the girl he’s dreamed about for years but “knows” he’ll never have because she’s too good for him. The best part is that Jase actually fell for Piper in high school when she was a shy, overweight girl with thick glasses and a stutter. He fell for her sweetness, and his feelings are real and genuine.

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The Girl From the Other Side of the Tracks
Piper spent the seven years Jase was in prison sending him letters and care packages because…that’s right…she was in love with him too! Her insecurities kept her from telling him how she felt, but as an adult who just moved out from under her parents’ thumbs, she thinks it’s time to tell him how she feels. She can tell he’s attracted, and with his sister’s encouragement, she goes for it.

Cruel to Be Kind
Her attempt to tell him how she feels goes so wrong, and yet the scene was so great. It brought about all kinds of emotions, with Jase being cruel to her because he thinks he’s doing the right thing and Piper leaving to cry on her friend’s shoulder. And while Jase is a complete douche, he’s also endearing because of how much pain he feels when he does what he believes is saving Piper from getting hurt. So. Many. Feels.

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Beyond the Initial Fall
This beginning conflict was so intense, I wasn’t sure how the author would be able to keep it going through the whole book without it starting to feel redundant. When Piper and Jase get together early in the story, I wasn’t sure where things were going to go from there. However, there was plenty of external conflict, and the story went from two people in love who can’t seem to connect to two people in love navigating a new relationship while trying to deal with several issues.

Harder & Harder to Breathe
Among the things Jase and Piper have to deal with, one is the fact that her parents are from high society and disapprove of her relationship with Jase. Her father (the cop who arrested him) even goes so far as to threaten him (her parents were both loathsome). Another big issue? Piper has severe asthma which is exacerbated by Jase’s old dusty house and sex. I really enjoyed the realism of an issue like this and how the characters handled it, especially Jase.

The Romance Factor
Jase thinks he’s a bad person and will hurt Piper, but he proves to be the complete opposite. He’s so gentle with her (minus the dinner scene where he breaks her heart). When he realizes how bad her asthma is, he takes steps to make sure they can have sex without her having an attack. Not only that, but he makes sure to see a doctor to clear him of any possible STDs from his ex before he and Piper are together for the first time. And considering she’s a virgin, he takes everything slow to make sure she’s ready both mentally and physically. 5/5

The Steam Factor
Because of Jase being one of the best boyfriends in the world, there is a lot of lead up to the sex. But when it does happen (and even when they’re fooling around before that), it’s super erotic and sensual. 5/5

Final Thoughts
There were parts of this novel I felt were actually poetic, and the emotions were written so well they pulled at me. Though those initial feels mellowed out in the second half of the book as Jase and Piper negotiated their relationship, it was still a solid read that took into account real-life aspects that don’t always make it into erotic novels.

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