Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Guest Review: The Way We Fall by Cassia Leo


Maybe we shouldn’t have fallen so fast and so willingly.

Maybe we shouldn’t have moved in together before we went on our first date.

Maybe we should have given our wounds time to heal before we tore each other to shreds.

Maybe we should have never been together.

Houston has kept a devastating secret from Rory since the day he took her into his home. But the tragic circumstances that brought them together left wounds too deep to heal.

Five years after the breakup, Houston and Rory are thrust together by forces beyond their control. And all the resentments and passion return with more intensity than ever.

Once again, Houston is left with a choice between the truth and the only girl he’s ever loved.

Publication Date: February 20, 2015

About Guest Reviewer Joanna:

Joanna Franklin Bell is a writer living outside Baltimore, MD. Her articles can be read in "Baltimore Magazine" and various sites; her award-winning short story can be found on the "Single Dad Laughing" blog; and her books can be found on Amazon. "Muse: A Cat's Story" is her children's chapter book, "Mrs. Just-So" is her children's picture book, and "Take a Load Off, Mona Jamborski" and "That Birds Would Sing" are her novels. Her third novel, "See No Demons, Hear No Demons" will be released in 2016. Catch up with Joanna on Facebook at:

Joanna's Review:

Strap in, sisters, I'm in a real mood after reading this book. I begrudge every one of the five stars I am awarding "The Way We Fall" by Cassia Leo because in my heart, I gave it one star, and wished it could have been zero. Why? Because I don't like romance novels. I've learned this about myself. I've always been able to appreciate great writing in ANY genre, but I was so annoyed with every cheap character, every over-scripted argument, every predictable story arc, every gratuitous sex scene… that I began to realize that most likely, I hated it all BECAUSE it was a romance novel, and not because it was horribly written.

Don't get me wrong. I'm quite sure it was horribly written. But since I cannot be impartial on that subject anymore, I would never punish a book, or an author, or readers, with my close-mindedness. "I read this book about cats. Well I hate cats, so I gave it one star." You know? I won't be that reviewer. So let's assume that all the reasons I might have hated this book might be all the reasons that a true fan of the romance genre would love this book, and we'll go from there.

Rory is a 24-year-old girl who’s a born-again virgin, more or less, since the one man she's been with is the one man she's loved since childhood and the one man who dumped her horribly and she's never moved on. Or, in romance terms, he was the one throbbing erection in her pulsating womanhood… or something. Houston is her ex-boyfriend, who magically appears in her life again, and seems to be named just so the author can crack two—two!!—Houston jokes. ("Houston, we have lift-off. Houston, we have a problem.")

The book toggles between present day tension and flashback… tension. These two are always tense. Even during the flashbacks while madly in love, they fight, scream at each other, are as crass as possible, and seem to rut only to bury their anger. Wait, I'm sorry… they make beautiful passionate love because that's what romance characters do after fights where they both behave utterly out of character. But this is just me. There are slowly revealed secrets about why they are both in so much pain, regarding Rory's roommate's suicide, and since the roommate was also Houston's sister, we can see why the two characters turned to each other.

But. BUT. Oh, there's so much more. WHY did this Hallie character commit suicide? If only she left a note… (SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON'T WANT THE MINOR SPOILER) If only she left a note that WEREN'T WRITTEN LIKE ANOTHER ROMANCE CHAPTER. Omg, people, when the SUICIDE NOTE talks about glistening sweat on her ex-lover's back, you know you're reading an author who can't write to save her life, no pun intended. However, the flip side of this is, maybe within the romance genre, this type of thing is just brilliant. Really, I no longer have any idea.

So, other things… Rory's mom is a nightmare, and if you want to write about a mom-character who's a nightmare, knock yourself out. I'm a fan of "Arrested Development" too. But when you are actually trying to paint Rory's mom as a supportive everymom, then… why all the ridiculous inappropriate dialogue? Oh, I know, because the author can't write. And why is the one woman who caused an accident Asian? Maybe the bad guy should be the one black character in the book. Maybe there should also be the token gay party-boy bff… oh wait, he's in the book too. Oh geez. Nothing is original. Not even all the many, many, many pop-culture references, when the characters have inside jokes about this movie and that movie and this movie and that movie and… Cassia Leo is really showing her hand, here, deriving inspiration from every movie from "Lion King" to "Seven" and utterly lacking the finesse to work it in organically, relying instead on stilted references. I cringed, every page. I cringe, now. But (if you're still with me, sisters… Are you still with me? Hello…? Oh hi!) maybe you won't cringe. Because maybe you like romance books, and all this stuff is just part and parcel of watching the girl get the guy, and that scratches an itch we all have, and you're nicer and sweeter and less judgmental than me and maybe you'll like this book just fine.

It would figure I'm on paragraph seven before I say anything nice. So the author finds her stride when she writes the chapters from Houston's point of view. She seems more comfortable with that masculine energy. She also had a snippet of really excellent dialogue (she had several, total, but I can count them on one hand) where Houston and his bestie Troy crack I-screwed-your-mom-last-night jokes and the exchange is totally REAL and legitimately FUNNY and crackles with life. If Cassia Leo is actually capable of writing that exchange, then I will hold her best writing against her. She's capable of doing better than the schlock she's churned out, and she doesn't respect her readers, clearly, since she thinks we're just along for the ride even though it took her as long to write it as it'll take you to read it. But maybe romance readers ARE just along for the ride—we all know the plots are predictable, yes?—so maybe that's not a valid criticism within this genre.

There is clearly no editor – "Gloss Publishing" or whatever is most likely just Cassia Leo hiding behind a li'l LLC she made so she doesn't look all self-published like the rest of us… But those stripes show when she's guilty of every fiction trap that any editor worth her salt would tear apart totally. I'd give you examples of that, but someone might begin to feel that I'm being too negative…? (lol, j/k y'all!) So "Gloss Publishing" sent me a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, which she is sure as hell getting…

So read it, just read it please. I read it, and actually finished it, which is more than I can say for half the books I start. That alone should be worth some stars if I can get over my bias. Apparently it's part of a three-part series so you can watch that relationship arc rise and fall three times in a row! Since that might be your thing as a romance reader! It's NOT my thing, as I've made abundantly clear, and I hope you don't all hate me now. But if this writing is enough to piss you off, then so will Cassia Leo's writing, because I already brought more to the table in this review than she did between her glossy covers.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the novel for review!

1 comment:

  1. I just spit coffee all over my screen from laughing so hard. I, too, am not a fan of romance. This review was just awesome. Thanks for the morning chuckle! *runs to get Windex and paper towels*