Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Review - And Then She Fell by Stephanie Laurens (3/5)

[The following review is part of the And Then She Fell blog tour being organized by TLC Book Tours.  To see the other books on the tour, check out the tour page.]

By Olga Godim

And Then She Fell tells the story of Henrietta, a twenty-nine-year-old lady and the society Matchbreaker. For years, she’s been investigating her female friends’ prospective grooms for the possibility of a love match. When she finds out that James, who is wooing her friend Melinda, doesn’t love her, Henrietta delivers the sad news to Melinda, and the match is broken.

James is furious. He has a reason to marry (quite honorable, as it’s revealed later) and a deadline, and Henrietta’s meddling destroyed his hopes of the timely match. When he confronts her with his accusations, she feels sorry for him and promises to find him another bride, and do it swiftly to adhere to his deadline. Thus the story starts, and of course, the hero and the heroine fall in love with each other.

My impressions of this book were two-fold. I’ll start with what I didn’t like and then proceed to what I did like.

I didn’t like the POV jumping from head to head without a pause, occasionally inside the same paragraph. It was jarring and disorienting.

I didn’t like any of the secondary characters – there are plenty of them, and they’re all flat and interchangeable.

I didn’t like the overly long explanations of the heroes’ feelings and the extended, convoluted sentences that stretch indefinitely throughout the tale. Sometimes, such sentences appear in dialog, and by the time the closing quotes arrived, I wondered what it was the person was really saying.   

To counteract the above failings, the story was charming, divided into two clear parts. The first part deals with Henrietta and James falling in love, dancing around each other in tentative confusion, asking themselves the same ages-old questions: Does she love me? Does he love me?

James’s reaction to Henrietta is original and utterly gratifying to female readers:
“…her perfume, a subtle blend of citrus and rose, wreathed his brain and trapped his wits.”
Stephanie Laurens
By the middle of the book, the lovers’ doubts are resolved. They decide to get married, but a new, much more sinister problem arises. Someone is trying to kill Henrietta. Strange incidents keep happening to her, and only James’s courageous interventions save her life again and again. The protagonists must deal with the dire situation before they can savor their well-deserved happily-ever-after.

This second half of the book, the part of mystery and danger, reads much faster, the tension mounts on every page, and the pacing picks up considerably. The only moments when the action stops dead are the torrid sex scenes. In my opinion, there are too many of them and they are too long, but that is a subject to taste. When each brush with death leads our heroes to unrestrained bouts in the bedroom, I can’t really hold it against them.

Another aspect of the novel I enjoyed tremendously is its heroine, Henrietta. A smart, no nonsense young woman, she is at times compassionate and kind, sensual and brave. She loves James deeply and is ready to sacrifice her life for him… within reason and with the help and support of her relatives and friends. I found her realistic approach refreshing and practically unique in the romance genre.

And then, there is the antagonist – the bad guy of the novel. Exceptionally smart and absolutely ruthless, he is almost impossible to defeat, a worthy opponent for Henrietta and James. The entire clan of Henrietta’s family mobilizes to topple the blackguard. The musings of the family’s head, the duke, are worthy of a special notice:
“…how we can identify the gentleman who, quite aside from already being a double-murderer, apparently thinks it’s wise to take aim at a Cynster.”
The arrogance of this statement took my breath away. Would it be OK, I wondered, if the murderer didn’t target a Cynster? Aside from this one twitch of my low-class sense of equality, misplaced in this case, I believe, I relished watching Henrietta and James bringing down their enemy. The protagonists’ victory was so much sweeter because the villain was so magnificently scary.

Overall, a good story. Recommended for fans of historical romance.     

About the Reviewer Olga Godim is a writer and journalist from VancouverCanada.  Her articles appear regularly in local newspapers, but her passion is fiction.  Her short stories have been published in several internet magazines, including Lorelei SignalSorcerous SignalsAoife’s KissSilver Blade, and other publications.  In her free time, she writes novels, collects toy monkeys, and posts book reviews on GoodReads.  Her first novel, Lost and Found in Russia, has just been released from Eternal Press.


  1. I like to mix this type of book into my reading stack every once in a while. I haven't read a Laurens book yet, but I figure it is only a matter of time. I enjoyed your review! :)

    1. Thanks, Elisa. Olga sure did an outstanding job.

  2. I love the phrase "magnificently scary" - it gives me chills!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

    1. We were happy to do it, Heather. The privilege is all ours.

  3. My favorite line from this review: "When each brush with death leads our heroes to unrestrained bouts in the bedroom, I can’t really hold it against them." Well said. I couldn't hold it against them either. ;)

    1. I know, right? It's as good an excuse as any to fall into bed. ;)