Harper has just been released from ten years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Now that he is out, he is struggling to get his life back together. Harper has lost his ability to trust after the wrongful conviction and then being abandoned by so many people when he was accused. Not to mention that fitting back into society when everyone thinks him a horrible criminal is nearly impossible. Adapting to life after jail is proving challenging and he is overwhelmed with the sheer number of decisions to make.
Malachi’s life is kind of a mess as well. After leaving his controlling boyfriend, he lost his job and is living with his sister and her hateful husband, who is clear he doesn’t want Mal around. Mal has to sneak use of the kitchen or shower and is forced to spend all day out of the house. He is keeping his spirits up, but it is tough.
When Mal gets a temporary job working renovations, he meets Harper, who is in the process of having the house he lives in repaired. The guys are immediately drawn to one another, hitting it off despite their painful pasts. Harper never thought he would feel comfortable with or really trust anyone again. But somehow with Mal he finds himself opening up to the man, and to his shock and delight, Mal believes in his innocence and still wants to be with Harper.
Despite the amazing connection between the men, things are not all smooth sailing. As folks in the town learn of Harper’s past, they begin to make his life hell. Both Harper and Mal have controlling, difficult exes who are not totally out of the picture and causing trouble. And of course Harper is still living under the shadow of his conviction, something that will affect him the rest of his life. Harper and Mal have really fallen for one another, but they must be open and honest, and really trust one another if there is hope for a future together.
This story drew me in right from the start as we see the men lock eyes in a grocery store, and begin to learn more about the tough situations they each find themselves in. Mal is stuck with his horrible brother-in-law who makes his life hell. He can’t find a job and he is hiding out from his ex. And poor Harper. His pain is just palpable. The wrongful conviction, being abandoned by his friends and family, and the heavy weight of knowing he will never outrun his past and will always be considered a criminal despite his innocence. My heart just broke for him and Elsborg really does a fabulous job with his character. We can feel how overwhelmed he is, how even making the littlest decisions after 10 years with no choices is just overwhelming.
I really loved those guys together, and they are what really carries the story. Mal, despite falling on hard times, is just such a fun, positive guy. He is full of entertaining banter, often able to lighten the mood and bring Harper out of his funk when things get overwhelming. Mal believes in Harper right away, and he is determined to help him prove his innocence. These are both guys who are going through rough times, but together they are each so much better than alone. I loved them as a couple. They are sweet, super sexy, and a lot of fun together. For me, watching them fall in love and move past their hurts and pain is what really made this book.
I didn’t have many quibbles here, but I did note a few issues. First off, this is a long book and I think things could have been tightened through the middle. Given that the focus is so much on these men and their relationship, the story dragged a little in places. I also found it a bit too pat that both men had these controlling exes, both of whom wanted to get back together, and both of whom were making their lives crazy. Not everything tied together as cleanly as I would have liked (for example, I feel like the story sets up this big reveal about who owns Harper’s house, but it ends up not being a big surprise or really that significant). But overall I think this story really works well and I didn’t see the ending coming.
So I think if you are in the mood for a good, character driven story, Falling is a great choice. I seriously loved Mal and Harper and thought they were fabulous together. Elsborg gets Harper just right, and I could feel how hurt and overwhelmed he is as he tries to move past his time in prison. At the same time, I appreciated how this is not too heavy a book. These guys are so fun together, sexy and amusing with banter and a sense of humor that it keeps the book from drowning under its own weight. And when I read the blurb for the next book in the series, I am dying to keep going. So I liked this one a lot and can’t wait to continue with the rest of the series.
P.S. If you don’t want to risk the ending of this book being spoiled, don’t read the blurb for book 2 until you finish this one.