Review: How Not To Fall

March 2, 2017

How Not To Fall by Emily Foster
Rating: ★★★★☆

In her witty and breathtakingly sexy novel, Emily Foster introduces a story of lust, friendship, and other unpredictable experiments. . .

Data, research, scientific formulae–Annabelle Coffey is completely at ease with all of them. Men, not so much. But that’s all going to change after she asks Dr. Charles Douglas, the postdoctoral fellow in her lab, to have sex with her. Charles is not only beautiful, he is also adorably awkward, British, brilliant, and nice. What are the odds he’d turn her down?

Very high, as it happens. Something to do with that whole student/teacher/ethics thing. But in a few weeks, Annie will graduate. As soon as she does, the unlikely friendship that’s developing between them can turn physical–just until Annie leaves for graduate school. Yet nothing could have prepared either Annie or Charles for chemistry like this, or for what happens when a simple exercise in mutual pleasure turns into something as exhilarating and infernally complicated as love.

A feminist, inclusive, sex-positive, fully consensual, intelligent, nuanced, hot as fuck erotic romance.

3.5 stars

This book feels like it was written in answer to FSoG. Seriously, there are SO many parallels. Down to minute details like the main character being Annie (short for Annabelle), the male lead Charles (hmmm…sort of similar to Ana (Anastasia) and Christian), and the fact that Charles calls Annie Miss Coffey, much like Christian calls Ana Miss Steele.

So, I hated FSoG with the all the power of a dying star mid-supernova. To say that I was a little concerned when I started to notice these parallels is an understatement.

What saved this novel was how it handled these similarities. I don’t want to go into exactly how in this review, because a lot of what I want to touch upon would be pretty spoilery. Suffice it to say that if you hated FSoG and need something to erase that book from your mind and replace it with something more consensual and less abusive, but still pretty dark at times, try this one.

And for those of you who loved FSoG (seriously, no judgement), you might really like this one, too. Because even though the themes and scenes that connect the two are similar and yet handled differently, this never feels like a copycat or like it’s trying to insult FSoG.

Okay, moving on from the comparisons. Other things you should know about this book: First off, it’s, at times, hilarious.

“ME: I’m going to do it for real. I’m going to ask Charles to have sex with me.
MARGARET: *laughs uproariously*
ME: *completely straight face*
MARGARET: *abruptly stops laughing* You’re serious?
ME: As a hemorrhage. (NB: I didn’t really say this. It’s the kind of thing I imagine myself saying. I think I actually said something pithy, like, “Yes.” Also, don’t be fooled into thinking I actually know how to spell hemorrhage. That baby is all spell check.)

Secondly, it’s brainy as hell. The MC has been accepted into doctoral programs at both Harvard and MIT, and the male lead is a post-doctoral fellow who assists the professor in the MC’s senior psychophysiology lab.

Something you should know about me: I’m an aeronautical engineer. I spend my days conversing with other engineers and people with advanced mathematical degrees. We even have a rogue astrophysicist or two wandering our hallways that I avoid speaking to, because, honestly, I think I’m pretty smart and I can barely interpret some of the things that they say.

This book is soooooo well researched. The first 1/3 of it is devoted to the friendship and mentoring bond between Annie and Charles, and a lot of their time together is spent discussing her thesis. In detail. I was legitimately blown away by the depth to which this is covered without ever feeling like it was dry or too detailed. Not saying that other readers won’t think that it is, just that, to me, this book and the relationship between its male and female lead is nerdlust goals.

Thirdly, this book doesn’t shy away from touching upon some very serious subjects, like abuse, mental health, traditional gender roles, male gendered violence, rape, and mass killings. It handles them with the detail and depth they deserve.

Lastly, we have the sex. Whoo-boy, Foster can write some seriously steamy scenes. As I said a few paragraphs ago, the first 1/3 of this is devoted to the friendship aspect of this couple’s relationship. Once Charles is technically no longer in Annie’s teaching chain, things…change between them, and the last 2/3 of the book contains A LOT of sex. And, damn, is it

Is this book perfect? Nope. One part particularly annoyed me. MINOR SPOILER: Annie is a virgin. Much like Ana from FSoG. She and Charles discuss it like rational feminists, mentioning the myth of purity, and how her virginity isn’t and shouldn’t be a big deal. But then when it comes time for her to lose it, they do a complete 180 and make a HUGE deal of it. This emphasis, not to mention the hypocrisy of it in the face of their previous discussions, really bothered me. But other than that I wholly enjoyed this read, and I fully recommend it for anyone looking for a feminist, brainy bit of erotica.