So I was pleasantly surprised by Fallen From Grace. Writer Sara Diamond moves into her new apartment and one of the first thing she does is befriend her new next-door neighbour - Ryan Kinsmore. Friendship leads to deeper feelings but Ryan is living a double life. When he's at work he's known as Kevin and he's a prostitute. He knows that once he tells Sara the truth he runs the risk of losing her, but he doesn't want to begin their relationship with a lie. However, leaving the past behind is not as easy as confessing the truth and starting anew.
For the most part I enjoyed this book, I wish there was more m/f of this standard and tackling these sort of stories. Neither Sara nor Ryan are perfect, they both have their unattractive qualities, but this doesn't make them unlikeable as characters.
Sarah is not as liberal as she thinks she is. She can deal with certain issues (don't want to spoil things) as long as they happen in other peoples families. This is something she has to deal with through the course of the book. She has this very secure world view - this is the way things are - but her perception is flawed. She's also a little obtuse, but as a reader I can't help but wonder if that's because she doesn't want to see what's in front of her. And as well as Ryan's occupation, he's also nine years younger than Sara, which is another area of insecurity for her.
Ryan on the other hand is more open...about some things. But not so much when it comes to asking for help. He has had to rely on himself for a long time. And he does patronise Sara a little, but she's quick to put him right.
"Oh, good grief, Ryan! You don't know nearly as much about women as you think you do."I think that's possibly my favourite line from the book. Mainly because I can imagine so clearly the tone of voice Sara is saying it in.
They both have to make themselves vulnerable to the other, a difficult thing to do, and Laura Leone conveys this beautifully. It's the contrasts between them that makes them work together so well as a couple. They are both wiser about some things than others.
Of the supporting characters I think Miriam - Sara's sister - deserves a special mention.
"Don't try to look on the bright side. There is no bright side."She's pragmatic but wary too. Very well drawn sibling relationship.
If anything spoiled the book for me, in a bizarre way it was the epilogue. Yes I liked knowing what happened after. But I felt a little like I'd gone from something original to romance novel 101, everything tied up at the end with no loose threads and a super happy ending. It was a little too neat, a little too rose-coloured glasses. (Yes, I feel a little weird about complaining that the ending was too happy).
Having said that, if you like m/f and you've been feeling that it's got generic and tired. I recommend that you check this one out. It's a pity that Laura Leone is not currently writing romance. (Though she is writing urban fantasy as Laura Resnick - hmmm, I think I see a future addition to my wishlist. :) )