Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Can't Help Falling" by Kara Isaac

Can't Help Falling
 was one of the books shortlisted for the Inspy Award in the Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense category, which I had the honor of helping judge. I'd never read anything by author Kara Isaac before, but by the time I was about 25% into the book, I'd gone back and purchased Close to You, Isaac's debut novel about two of the minor characters from Can't Help Falling.

I'm pretty careful about spending book money, so that shows you just how much I was loving Can't Help Falling!

A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter façade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England—home to C.S. Lewis—to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers—until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with curious a wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in Kara Isaac’s inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

From the first pages, when Peter discovers Emelia hiding in a wardrobe in an antique shop, I was enchanted by Can't Help Falling. The story contains C.S. Lewis and Narnia references aplenty, as well as laugh-out-loud humor and tear-jerking moments.

It's hard to know exactly what to say about Can't Help Falling, as much of what I want to talk about revolves around Emelia's big secret ... but I can't say much without putting a giant spoiler alert on this post. Suffice it to say that Emelia's secret is one that could destroy her relationships with Peter and her roommate Allie and could cause her to lose her job.

And that's where I found one of the most touching elements of the book. After Emelia's secret is inevitably brought to light, the way in which some of the characters reacted brought me to tears. Emelia is clearly not a believer, and the grace and love extended to her after people found out her true identity is exactly the way the body of Christ should react. If only we did more often...

The one and only thing I didn't completely adore about this book had to do with the faith element. Because I know that sometimes people buy books based on my recommendations, I need to mention this—though I hope it won't keep you from reading Can't Help Falling, I also want you to know what you'll encounter. Throughout the novel, Peter is very clear that he won't marry someone who doesn't share his faith. He struggles with that, as he's falling in love with Emelia, but he knows a shared faith is vital for a relationship. That, I completely applaud. I also appreciated Emelia's faith journey, as God clearly drew her in. However, as far as I can tell, when Emelia becomes a believer, she becomes a believer that there is a God and He loves her. It's more "if you believe in God, then you're a Christian" than "saved by grace through faith." As this is romantic fiction and not a theology book, it's not that big of a deal to me, but I also felt the need to point it out and let you make your own decision.

Overall, I loved Can't Help Falling, and I can't wait to dig into Close to You! 4-1/2 stars.

Note: When I picked up Can't Help Falling, I didn't realize it was at least a pseudo-sequel to Close to You. Isaac does a great job of introducing characters and making sure that readers can dive right into this novel without having read Close to You. But Jackson and Allie are just so darn cute in this novel that you'll want to go back and read their love story!

Buy the book.

Kara Isaac is a romantic comedy writer who lives in beautiful Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of Close to You, a RITA Award Double Finalist, and Can't Help Falling, an RT Review Top Pick. Her latest book Then There Was You released in June. When she's not chasing three small hobbits, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connect with readers on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free and chose to review it. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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