Guest Reviewed by Trish
Title: Fall Hard
Author: J.L. Merrow
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 237 Pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: September 17, 2013
Available at: Samhain Publishing, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Some memories are better off lost in the mist…
Eight months ago, British academic Paul Ansell lost his lover—and all the memories of their time together—in an accident at Iceland’s Gullfoss Falls. Returning to the misty island country to resume his study of the bloodthirsty Viking Egil Skallagrimsson is tough as he struggles to pull his life back together.
First, there’s his colleague, Mags, who treats him like glass, and summer student Alex, who peppers him with discomforting questions. Then there’s Icelandic jet-boat driver Viggo, a tattooed, modern-day Viking who won’t say much about how they know each other. Leaving Paul to wonder if their volcanic attraction is fuelled by a desire to make a fresh start, or desperation to forget the past.
As more fragments of his lost memories fall into place, Paul is unsure if he can trust himself, much less anyone around him. And he begins to suspect his accident was nothing of the kind.
Warning: Contains a modern-day Viking whose boat has V8 engines for oars, and a harsh land of hot springs and hotter passions that won’t forgive any false steps.
Review: Is it possible to adore a book more because of the setting vs the romance? I did with Fall Hard. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the romance, it was the Icelandic scenery and the historical recollections, as well as the Sagas (stories from the past), that truly enveloped the reader.
We meet Paul, a teacher who is returning to his employment in Iceland. Paul was physically injured but what bothers him most is the year of his life that is missing before the accident happened. An accident that also took the life of his boyfriend. As the story is told in Paul’s point of view, we clearly feel his frustration because of the memory loss. Every person he meets causes him stress because he can’t remember. Did he know this person before, were they a friend, student, can he trust what information they share with him? We soon meet Paul’s friend, Mags, a fellow staffer who helps Paul regain his balance after returning to Iceland. We are then introduced to Alex, a person who instantly rubs Paul the wrong way. Last, but not least, we meet Viggo the Viking, tall, bronze and tattooed. Paul is very confused about Viggo. He senses he may know Viggo from before his accident, however, Viggo doesn’t reveal much, and for Paul, it feels like more of a physical connection with Viggo than anything significant. As the story moves forward, we learn they did know each other before, and they begin a romance that leaves Paul falling in love with Viggo but also more confused than ever.
There is a mystery component to the story about what exactly occurred during the accident with Paul and his boyfriend. At this point of the story, the reader is given plenty of history of Iceland, as well as detailed descriptions of Icelandic climate, the geography and culture. Paul travels around Iceland often, even going back to the area where the accident happened. During this part of the story is where it shined in my opinion. Even though the historical telling of the Sagas did drag a bit for me, it didn’t take away from the solid storytelling by the author.
The writing is solid, and the author does a great job with portraying Paul’s frustrations with his amnesia. In the end, Paul does remember, and what is revealed answers a lot of the mystery surrounding his accident. If you are looking for a sweet story with no shootouts or explosions, but with a bit of mystery and romance, then I encourage you to read Fall Hard.
Overall Impression: I really liked it!
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*