Fall For Me
by Sydney Landon
(Signet, $7.99, R) ISBN 978-0-451-41963-7
Fall For Me begs the question: “Why?” With a heroine who is a whining mass of uninteresting insecurities and a cardboard secondary cast, there’s precious little to fall for. Graphic sex takes the place of chemistry, the storyline is tired, and I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters.

Beth Denton used to be heavy, but she lost over a hundred pounds a while back. She’s still insecure about her body and sure that no man could be really attracted to her. Since losing her teaching job and taking a position as an assistant to her sister, Suzy, at Danvers International, she’s been carrying on a sex-only relationship with Nick Merimon, Suzy’s future brother-in-law. When the story opens, Beth confesses that she is pregnant and Nick is the father.

Suzy, who has a big mouth, swears a lot, and talks in throwaway lines, reacts by telling Beth, “I want to hear all about this, but I need to be drunk first.” Which should give readers a huge insight into her character, or lack thereof. (In fact, a lot of the dialogue in this book is of the same caliber, as if the characters can’t think of anything meaningful to say so they just spout various versions of cleverness, few of which are actually funny.) Beth has been sleeping with Nick for six months and staying with him at his apartment almost every night, but he’s a drop-dead-gorgeous playboy and he’ll never love somebody like her, Suzy has always been the pretty one in the family, yada, yada. Hasn’t this been done to death already?

Nick is stunned at the pregnancy news, but immediately offers to marry Beth and try to make a family for the baby. Beth, of course, is having none of it. She’ll raise the child herself, he can see it anytime he wants, and she tells herself the only reason he’d make a proposal like that is he must still be drunk from the night before. It was only page 60 and I was completely sick of her immaturity and bitchiness.

Nick has wanted a deeper relationship with Beth but she keeps pushing him away, so he’s settled for lots of great sex. The rest of the story involves Nick trying to break through to Beth, and Beth refusing to let him, while she tries to deal with the inevitable pregnancy weight gain by basically starving herself so she doesn’t end up “fat” again. This woman was not only unlikable, but stupid.

I’d have given this irritating book one heart but for Nick. He at least tries to do the right thing, though heaven only knows why Beth is so attractive to him – she’s portrayed as an insecure sexpot with little warmth or charm. The entire book is focused around her pregnancy, her body issues and her unwillingness to believe that Nick could honestly care for her, information the reader can glean in the first fifteen pages. Beth and Suzy’s parents are apparently Big Meanies who constantly criticize their daughters and carp about Beth’s weight, but they are so one-dimensionally cold and nasty that it’s hard to feel any sympathy for the two women. Being thirty years old and unable to tell your own parents, “Hey, knock off the criticizing” isn’t inspiring. There’s a great scene in which the parents get a dressing-down, but it’s Nick who delivers it, not Beth or Suzy.

This is apparently the third in a series of novels set at Danvers International, and the author spends time setting up the next one, so readers who enjoyed the previous two might like this one, too. Fall For Me left me uninterested in pursuing the next installment.

--Cathy Sova

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