Title: Falling Down
Author: Eli Easton
Publisher: Pinkerton Road
Release Date: November 8th 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: TBC
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 2.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Josh finds himself homeless at eighteen, but he has a plan. He’ll head north on the bus to New England and spend October there for his mother’s sake. She always talked about going to see the fall leaves someday. And when the leaves are done and the harsh winter comes, Josh plans to find a place to curl up and let go. It will be a relief to finally stop fighting.
Mark spent his life trying to live up to the tough swagger of his older brothers until he pushed himself so far against his nature that he cracked. Now a former Marine, he rents a little cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he can lick his wounds and figure out what to do with the rest of his life. One thing was clear: Mark was nobody’s hero.
Fate intervenes when Josh sets up camp under a covered bridge near Mark’s cabin. Mark recognizes the dead look in the young stranger’s eyes, and he feels compelled to do something about it. When Mark offers Josh a job, he never expected that he’d be the one to fall.
The snow is coming soon. Can Mark convince Josh that the two of them can build a life together before the flurries begin?
Josh is eighteen and homeless, apathetic about life, and still missing his mother who died the year before. He decides pretty spontaneously to head north to New England so he can see the changing of the leaves and wait for the snow to come and let himself finally let go.
The apathy Josh wore like a shroud crept back in, numbing his heart.
Mark is twenty-four and struggling a bit after leaving the active Marines. He’s very closeted and, with the exception of a hook-up friends-with-benefits, he’s pretty alone in the Gainesville area of New Hampshire separated from his larger family in Concord while he tries to put his life together.
Mark finds Josh, invites him in and offers him a job. Their relationship quickly turns to friendship that turns in a delicious slow burn to romance, even though Mark fights it because he doesn’t want to take advantage of Josh.
Josh looked back at his sketchbook, his mouth twisting. “I… I want you.” Josh’s voice was firm and unashamed but it held a hint of anguish. “And you don’t feel that way. It’s fine. But no, it’s not what I want, just hanging around like I’m your kid brother.”
Mark’s heart pounded. The words had been said out loud now, and there was no putting that genie back in the bottle. “Josh—”
“I get it. It’s fine. It’s not your problem, and you didn’t ask for it. But can you please leave now? I know this is your house, but this is my room, at least for today.” He scribbled at something on the page furiously. The darkness—anger, bitterness, despair—rolled off him in waves.
Yeah, Mark realized. We’re really going to have to have that talk now.
“Okay. Look. It’s not that I don’t want you like that, Josh. I do. I—God, I do.”
Josh’s pencil went still in his hand.
“But I don’t want to take advantage of you, and I don’t know… I don’t even know where I’m going to be in six months. I don’t want to get into a situation where I cause you more pain. I care about you Josh. You, as a person. Your life. Can’t you see that? I don’t want to be that guy, just another asshole who hurt you.”
Told from the dual POV of both Mark and Josh, the story has a sort of melancholic baseline that could have been off-putting, but Easton writes this beautifully, like a sad poem. The reader experiences Josh’s depression and apathy and gets glimpses of the PTSD/Nightmares Mark struggles with, but through it all there is a current of hope that flows strongly and makes this a wonderful story.
He wouldn’t look away from Mark’s eyes for a second. This was them. Them, together. Josh and Mark.
Josh hadn’t loved very many people in his life. Really, there was only one: his mom. Now he loved someone else: Mark. God, he did. Hugely. Epically. Terminally. No matter what else happened from here on out, no matter if he stayed with Mark or had to leave. No matter if Josh lived ’til he was ninety or found his peace in the snow, he would love Mark ’til the end. He was suddenly so grateful to have experienced that.
Falling Down is a slow burn friends to lovers romance, with some angst and deeper tones, but a lot of hope, some heated not too explicit passion, and a wonderful HEA.
“I love you, Josh,” Mark whispered.
“Always,” Josh whispered back.
And that was all and it was everything.