2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I really enjoyed both The Liars Club series and The Royal Four by Celeste Bradley, but Fallen for me wasn't quite up to the same standard. This was her first book, so maybe my expectations were too high from her later work? I missed the humour most especially. I also found that Fallen was very much more a charater driven books without a huge amount of plot going on.
The heroine, Izzy, wakes up suddenly one night to find the hero in her bed! It's a mistake, but of course in the eyes of the Ton she is a ruined woman, unless he marries her. I liked both Izzy and Julian, but there wasn't enough there to make this a truly great example of the genre. It's still a pleasant read, but Bradley's other books are better in my opinion.
on 18 July 2013
Originally published in 2001, Fallen is Celeste Bradley's first novel and it has a lot going for it. The hero and heroine are attractive, well-suited characters, the relationship between them is built displaying plenty of humour and affection, there's a lip-smacking villain or two, good dialogue and the book is well-written.
But. And it's quite a big but - Fallen almost feels as though it's two separate books that have been welded together.
The story opens with confirmed spinster, Isadora Temple having what she thinks is an erotic dream... until she wakes to find there really is a man in her bed! He's the worse for drink and seems to think she's someone else, and in her panic she smacks him over the head with a candlestick to get him off of her.
The man is Eppingham (Eppie) Rowley, Lord Blackwell, son of the truly unpleasant Marquis of Rotham, who insists his son marries Izzy. Eppie doesn't want to get married, least of all to a woman he's never seen and whom he believes had designed to deliberately trap him - but his sense of honour demands that he make amends for Izzy's destroyed reputation. And as, when he sees her in daylight, he sees that she's not elderly or ugly, he's not totally averse to the idea of marrying her. When they begin to converse and he realises she's not stupid either, and in fact, is intelligent with a good sense of humour, he is even less averse. Izzy, however, completely confounds him by insisting she does not wish to marry him, insisting on a fake betrothal which they will end after a few months so she will be able to live independently on the small inheritance she has been hoarding since the death of her parents.
The first half of the book is really quite lovely, as Izzy and Eppie -which she decrees is a stupid name, and instead uses his second name, Julian - come to know each other and gradually fall in love. Julian doesn't recognise it for what it is, of course - all he knows is that he wants to kill anyone who would dare to hurt her - but as their relationship blossoms, so does Izzy, and Julian finds himself more and more drawn to her, and more and more determined to make her his wife.
I thoroughly enjoyed the way the rapport between them was established; they made each other laugh, teased each other and had begun to forge a real friendship until at almost exactly the half-way point, the tone of the book changed abruptly and we ran headlong into angst-ville.
Seeing Izzy in the arms of his best friend and mistakenly believing her to prefer him, Julian is overwhelmed by the green-eyed monster, and in a fit of jealous passion, seduces and makes love to her.
Unfortunately however, he manages to break her heart immediately afterwards by saying something incredibly crass, and Izzy flees.
After this, the story takes a number of tortuous twists and turns which pile on the tension, and also the frustration of the reader/listener as Julian and Izzy are trapped in a "Big Misunderstanding" as Julian, discovering that there have been consequences from their night of passion in the garden (!) forces Izzy to marry him. Izzy becomes increasingly withdrawn, feeling the loss of the independence she had so longed for, knowing she is trapped in a marriage in which all the love is on one side, and convinced Julian does not and can never love her, even as he is struggling with the same feelings.
On the whole, I enjoyed the book, but it definitely felt rather unbalanced. In the first half, Izzy blossoms from the put-upon poor relation - orphaned young, she was used as an unpaid housekeeper, gardener and maid of all-work by her stingy aunt and uncle - to an attractive, confident young woman of intelligence and humour, mostly due to Julian's efforts to draw her out and the interest he takes in her. Julian is shown to possess a quick wit and quickly learns to appreciate Izzy's uniqueness, and I really enjoyed watching their mutual affection grow and deepen.
The second half, though, is so filled with plot, that the characters we have come to know are almost sidelined in the attempt to get everything in. Izzy changes completely from being a bright, independent young woman and instead becomes a `moper', almost entirely preoccupied with the fact that she has fallen deeply in love with a man who will never love her. And Julian, on being given the cold shoulder has absolutely no idea what to do; and even though he knows Izzy is purposely avoiding him, does nothing to bring about a meeting so they can talk things through. All he does is come over all dictatorial when he discovers she's pregnant, which only serves to drive the wedge between them even deeper.
In terms of the narration, I thought Susan Ericksen did a pretty good job, although at times, I found it difficult to distinguish between her male and female characters. She has a very "forceful" style which is perhaps a little TOO forceful sometimes; and I'm afraid her attempt at a Scottish accent for one of the minor characters was very poor. On the plus side, the Irish one she adopted for Julian's groom was very good.
Overall - enjoyable, but be prepared for bucket-loads of angst!
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