12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
ARC review – 4.5/5 Stars
Time read: Four hours straight through, during a workday (don’t tell anyone)
Emotional factor: There were tears. Lots.
Steam factor: Super hot but mainly because it meant something. No empty sex happening here.
PLOT: Beth Lawrence finally has her life back on track. A job she loves, a wealthy husband and a beautiful home are a far cry from the tragedy that struck when she was nineteen. But now that her past seems firmly behind her, an old flame walks back into her life. Bringing back painful memories of a time she's worked hard to forget, reviving a passion she tried to bury years before.
Niall Joseph is an up-and-coming artist, recently returned from success in America. Volunteering to teach in an inner-city drug clinic, the last person he expects to see is the girl who broke his heart nine years earlier. Working closely together allows their old wounds to heal, forging a deeper connection between them. One that slowly starts to burn.
As she becomes tangled up with a neglected child and her drug-addict mother, Beth finds herself drawn to Niall. But neither of them can anticipate how hard it is to tread the thin line between friendship and desire.
REVIEW: I need to start this review out by saying that I’m a HUGE fan of Carrie’s work. I have not been quiet in my absolute (borderline obsessive) love of her novel Fix You. It was one of my top reads from last fall and I continue to rave about it. When and if that novel becomes available again through Amazon, I encourage you all to read it.
When the opportunity arose to be on her team and receive ARCs of her new work, I jumped at the chance. A new book! Yes. Yes please. Sign me up.
I wasn’t disappointed. But let’s be serious about reviews…they are so PERSONAL, right? It’s all about preference. What draws me to Carrie as a writer is her ability to weave so much emotion (real human emotion, not just angst which is so popular in so many books coming out these days) into plot lines that span (sometimes) decades. One of my favorite aspects of Fix You was that the story covered many, many years. This structural device really works for me. Personally, I am very interested in how characters change over time, how they relate over time, how life can come in and throw a curveball at them and change the course of everything and (as a reader) you get to see it all happen.
Coming Down is similar except Carrie goes back & forth between the present and the past. This can be challenging to pull off but it really worked for me. It was fluid and necessary and kept me interested in not only how the characters related in the moment but what had happened to them all those years before to separate them in the first place.
Beth & Niall met in college. They were young. They were wild. Drugs, sex, chaos. The type who can’t keep their hands off eachother and who easily pull down the other into the youth wasteland because they are probably a little obsessed with the other. You know the feeling? At that age, the person you love is everything. But then there is a tragedy. A tragedy that they are too young to process and manage on their own. A tragedy that tears them apart.
When we meet Beth years later, she’s content in a marriage with an older man who has dedicated his life to taking care of her. She’s cleaned up her act but her life is decidedly quite “safe”. She shelved wild passion when she lost Niall all those years ago. As a reader, I understood Beth in that way. I get being afraid of losing control and spiraling. I get straddling the line between your heart and your head out of fear of the unknown. I also get that choosing your heart can backfire big time. Beth lives in the aftermath of the “backfire” and she has structured her present day life to avoid backfire wholeheartedly. When Niall is reintroduced to her life (not a SPOILER as it happens early on in the book), things inevitably start to unravel for her. Her stranglehold on the control in her life starts to slip. She starts to question everything. This is what happens when you deny pieces of yourself for so long. Eventually life has a way of forcing you to confront the very things you try to bury. What I struggled with when it came to Beth was understanding how she could be so easy on her husband Simon. Simon isn’t a bad guy. In fact, I think he’s truly a kind man (misguided perhaps but kind). However, there is a stretch when he behaves like a spoiled, manipulative child. This was hard for me to swallow. And harder for me to watch Beth go through her life silently allowing him to behave that way. I was longing for her lash out and break free but ultimately, her gratitude to him for providing her with safety and comfort won out. (I will not go into whether it won out in the end as that would spoil it for you!).
As for Niall…what can I say? I’m a sucker for an Irishman. Particularly Irish artsy guys with an edge. He was what I look for in a romantic hero: flawed, charming, conflicted but solid, loyal, patient, kind. Carrie writes really good men. In my opinion, this is decidedly lacking in many erotic/romance novels which are filled with an overabundance of alpha male angst, fueled by sex and less by emotion, with little room to move emotionally. Carrie’s male leads try really really hard to do the right thing. Niall can be selfish and he’s not perfect but he really tries. And I admired that about him from the start. I also admired that he wasn’t afraid to look at his role in the events of the past and cope with the consequences of his actions. He lines up easily with other “good men who don’t realize they are good men” that I fell for hard in books like Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan, Truly by Ruthie Knox and of course Richard in Fix You (double sigh).
The one surprise in this story for me though was how hard I fell for little Allegra. All love story swooning aside, the real meat of this story is about an 8 year old girl dealing with a mother who is addicted to drugs. Carrie tackles a tough subject here. Beth works for an inner city drug clinic. She has dedicated her life to helping people trying to get clean and provides a stable program for the children of addicts while they work on sobriety. I am not usually drawn to stories that involve children. (no real reason really, it’s just personal preference not being much a “kid” person myself). However, I can honestly say that in the end, any tears that I was shedding were for Allegra and everything she had been through in her life and everything that she’d have to cope with in the future. I was proud of Beth and Simon and Niall but mainly, I was proud of Allegra and really routing for her to have everything she deserved to have from the get-go.
All in all, this story burned slower than my love for Fix You (which was almost instantaneous for me). It took me a little longer to fall deeply into the emotionality of the story. I was captured right away by the players but the emotionality crept up on me. I found myself in so deep in the end that I couldn’t think of Niall or Beth or Allegra without tearing up for days after (this is Carrie’s gift).
Total book hangover.
Give this one a chance.
You won’t regret it.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Last year I read and loved Carrie Elks's Fix You and I'm not quire sure how I missed that she had another book come out since then. Fix You was an epic book that covered 10+ years of its characters' lives in a very epic love story and in some ways Coming Down is like that and in other ways it's completely its own story.
Beth (for some reason she never seemed like a Beth to me) works at a drug rehabilitation clinic and is married to the older, wealthy Simon. In her college days she fell in with an artistic, drug-loving crowd and a close friend ended up overdosing, something she feels responsibly for even nine years later. When her friend overdosed Beth was kicked out of school and spent the next few years of her life lost. She started at the rehab clinic as a way of doing penance for her friend's death, but she quickly fell in love with the clinic, especially the kids of the addicts who she mostly works with, and the job becomes her calling in life.
Sadly her husband, who knows Beth didn't marry him for his money, but still wants Beth to be a bit of a trophy wife, disagrees. When the story starts Simon is often angry at Beth for how many hours she puts in at the clinic, the situations she puts herself in (which he perceives as being dangerous), and for becoming too involved with one family in particular, a poor heroin-addict mother and her daughter. Shortly after the story starts Niall, Beth's boyfriend from her college days, the guy who gave their friend the drugs he overdosed on, reappears in Beth's life. Niall is now a successful artist and he's showing at the gallery owned by Simon's daughter. When Beth needs an art student to teach art to kids at the clinic Simon's daughter recruits Niall, something he's obviously overqualified for, but Beth is both excited and terrified to spend time with him again.
The crux of the story is about Beth's relationships with Simon and with Niall and adultery is part of the story. At first Simon is more of a victim, it's obvious that Beth didn't marry him for money and that even though he doesn't want a wife with a career like Beth does has he also doesn't want a pretty face with no brain. But then Simon becomes kind of a bully and it was difficult to reconcile that Simon with the Simon from the beginning of the story and, eventually, the Simon at the end of the story. Niall, on the other hand is less complicated. He clearly is still interested in Beth and it's also clear that while it wasn't easy, he's been able to move on from what happened to them in college in a way that Beth hasn't been able to.
Beyond the romance this is really a story about Beth, a woman who, at 29-years-old, is still trying to figure herself out, something that a lot of people can relate to. After her drug-fueled days in college, the death of her friend, and being kicked out of college her life became frozen. She manages to move on with a career and a husband, but she did it by completely closing off her old self. Some of that deserves to be closed off, spending her days smoking white widow and her nights popping ecstasy probably isn't the best idea, but there were other parts of that person that were great and as the story goes on she begins to realize that and let those parts of her come out.
And that transformation is great for Beth, but not always great for the people around her, which is what the story is about. As she asserts herself more with Simon he continually tells her that they're better when he's allowed to make all the decisions. Even when she reconnects with Niall she knows she can't just fall back into her arms and forget everything else and she sets the terms of their relationship. With Daisy and Allegra, the mother and daughter she grows to close to, she even becomes more assertive, which is both good and bad. Even with her friend Lara she seems to speak her mind more as the story goes on.
Carrie Elks is great at coming up with interesting and stories and interesting characters, but her biggest strength might be her ability to show how characters change and grow over time and how that affects their relationships. For someone like Simon where the change all happened in the course of the story it didn't necessarily work as well, but for Beth and Niall, and even the characters back in Fix You, she knows how to make those transformations work.
Bottom Line: If you asked me which Carrie Elks book to read I would probably recommend Fix You over Coming Down, but that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy Coming Down quite a bit. Beth is an interesting, complex character and reading about her transformation was fascinating. At times the story was predictable, but the great characters easily made up for it and I can't wait to read more from Carrie Elks.