Plagued by grief and too dependent on drugs and alcohol for solace, fading movie star Eddie Crane is running out of chances to save his career. His manager has found him a film that might resurrect his popularity, but only if he stays clean and learns to ride a horse, neither of which particularly appeal to him.
Eddie is banished to an isolated ranch in order to prepare for the film. There he meets his horse trainer and intended stunt double, Arthur Pike. The two share an instant connection, but Pike has his own mantle of pain, one that threatens to smother any hope of happiness he might find with Eddie. As Eddie’s time on the ranch draws to a close, both men must make their peace with the past and decide if the love they have is worth the risk.
The review for Bound to Fall posed something of a quandary for me. I’m a fan of this particular author, but while this book was certainly written well from a stylistic point of view, the plot and the characters never really clicked for me. The pacing is okay but it tends to drag during a handful of expositional sections and I think about a quarter of this book could have been trimmed and none of the essential plot information lost.
I enjoyed both of the characters but not necessary together. Eddie likes to pretend he could care less about his work or anyone around him. The death of his best friend and lover left a terrible wound, one that Eddie refuses to let heal. So he turns to drugs and alcohol, but it’s obvious that while he wants to escape his pain, he doesn’t know how to surrender fully to self-destruction. His desperation comes through clearly and it makes the character relatable. That he has survived in spite of himself speaks to his inner strength and his unspoken desire for something more from his life. As a reader, it was easy to warm up to Eddie and his actions are often easier to understand than Arthur’s.
Arthur is everything Eddie needs — tough yet submissive in the bedroom, stable, and dependable. His devotion to the horses he works with is obvious and that same devotion extends to anyone he deems important. But Arthur is hung up on his straight best friend and has been for years. The way he pines for his friend Ryan isn’t particularly endearing. Instead it comes off as a bit pathetic and, while I like Arthur as a whole, this aspect of his character is rather off putting. As a result, while Eddie’s baggage is realistic, Arthur’s seems contrived and doesn’t fit with the rest of his personality. Additionally, I never really connected with these men as a couple. Their relationship moves too quickly and many of the BDSM aspects felt a bit forced. I believed that Arthur needed their scenes but not Eddie and so they never seemed particularly comfortable on page, at least during moments of intimacy. The way they stand up for one another is admirable and I do like that while they are far from co-dependent, one isn’t afraid to lean on the other when it gets rough. So, at least for me, this couple worked out of the bedroom but not in it.
Perhaps my biggest frustration with Bound to Fall was the soap opera-like quality of the overall plot. Eddie and Arthur often, though not always, fight or become upset over little things or situations are blown out of proportion. Given neither Eddie or Arthur are written as particularly silly men, these situations felt forced and read as plot contrivances that never really pay off for the reader. And yet other problems, such as Eddie’s fear of horses and his potential blackmailer, are either minimized or never fully developed. The end result is a narrative that reads as slightly farcical and this does a disservice to the characters and their journeys, both as individuals and as a couple.
I think Bound to Fall is a weaker novel by this author and while it isn’t one of my favorites, I do believe there are readers who will connect to Eddie and Arthur better than I did. They are not a perfect couple, but they have their moments of charm and ultimately I wanted them to find a happily ever after. The melodrama does this novel no favors, but there is still a rather sweet story of two broken men seeking love beneath all the nonsense. This and two characters that tug at the heartstrings ultimately provide a measure of redemption for Bound to Fall.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.