Book Review: After We Fall by Marquita Valentine

I had to go back and remind myself what happened in the previous book in this series to get familiar with the world and characters again. This book starts where the previous one left off (sort of) and has the same sweetness the other one did. I still haven’t read the first book in the series though. I really need to get on that.

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman out of an abusive marriage is excited about starting a new life but nervous about being so close to the cop who saved her. A full synopsis can be found on this book’s Goodreads page.

We Meet Again
When Hunter last saw Evangeline, she was badly beaten and bruised. He was the one to save her, making sure she’d get medical treatment to survive what her husband had done to her. Since then, he hasn’t been able to forget about her. Even though he’s helped many abuse victims as a police officer, Evangeline got to him the most. So when he sees that she’s moving in to his apartment complex…to the apartment across from his, as a matter of fact…he reaches out to her.

Changes for the Worse
Evangeline pretends not to recognize Hunter when she first sees him, even though she very much does. She’s happy she finally got a divorce from her ex, but she’s still haunted by all the things he did and said to her, and she’s embarrassed that she let it go on for so long. Even though she’s attracted to Hunter, she has trust issues and is a bit skittish. She’s afraid to jump into a relationship because her ex had been amazing and sweet when they’d first gotten together, and she hadn’t seen or expected the change in him until it was too late. Now she can’t trust that it won’t happen with someone else. For her, it’s easier to stay alone.

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Taking Life
Evangeline’s abuse was difficult to read about, and abuse survivors may want to take this as a trigger warning for the book. She flashes back to many of the ways he hurt her, not just physically (though there are some physical details), but also mentally, telling her she’s not worth anything and making sure she no longer has any friends or is in close contact with her family (part of which she isn’t because of her shame). There are a few times when she mourns the person she was before she met her husband.

Common Ties
Hunter and his mother were both abuse victims of their father, so Hunter feels especially protective of abuse victims. I felt that a lot of his attraction to Evangeline had to do with him wanting to protect her and help her come back from her trauma. It helped that his abuse was one of the things that allowed her to connect with him and eventually trust him.

Enemies & Friends
There is a bit of a damsel in distress plot, as Evangeline’s ex-husband starts calling to to harass her and things escalate. But it’s also another avenue in which she’s able to empower herself to take a stand against him. There’s also Saylor, the woman in the apartment that Evangeline ends up becoming friends with (a big deal for her since she hasn’t had friends in a long time) who’s a Star Wars nerd and completely adorable. The tone of the book was slightly dark and very serious, but Saylor helped lighten the mood. I really hope she gets her own story.

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The Romance Factor
I love when a sweet hero takes such good care of a woman, and Hunter really does. The development of their relationship felt slow at first, building up to when Evangeline finally trusts him. It felt like there was a slow buildup and then a really fast slide into her jumping him, but I suppose in the context of a romance story, it has to happen at some point. 4/5

The Steam Factor
Evangeline wants to get her groove back, and she does. It takes her a bit to warm up to Hunter, but when she does, things get spicy. 4/5

Final Thoughts
I really like the way Marquita Valentine writes. It’s not overly flowy, but it’s emotional and gives me a good sense of how the characters are feeling. I get alot of passion and sadness, but I also get hope and I love the way the characters work together. This book was stronger on the sadness, but it still held my attention and made me swoon over Hunter a couple times.

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