I’m not sure what’s going on with sequels lately but they haven’t been living up to the greatness of the first books. Sadly, When I Fall is no different. An Uncommon Whore was such a vivid and wonderful book that I’m so disappointed and saddened in When I Fall. It has the same world and excellent writing but after that I’m left to wonder exactly what I read. The characters feel very different from the first book and unfortunately I couldn’t connect to either one. There are too many secrets, too many political plots and no real resolution or happy ending. Instead the happy couple just ignores their many, many problems in a move that makes me think these two actually won’t end up together.
When I Fall is told from Griffin’s first person point of view (as opposed to the first book from the more dynamic narrator of Helios) and picks up a short time after Helios has returned to their people as King. Now Griffin and Helios try to maneuver the tricky political waters while their personal relationship suffers. At the same time their people are struggling to overcome the vicious attack they suffered and fear new attacks in their vulnerable position.
I’d heard that some readers didn’t appreciate the first part of the book but soon got into the second half. Sadly I couldn’t really get into this book at all. I never ended up connecting with Griffin or Helios on any significant level and was left feeling both men are irrational and not well suited to each other. Griffin spends almost the entire story in his head lamenting his dead wife, the secrets Helios is keeping, his own insecurities, fears, and a thousand other mental masturbations. While I was more than willing to go with the story and understand Griffin’s fears and concerns, he never seems to get over himself or talk with Helios, instead the two have sex and ignore the problems.
This is where my biggest pet peeve about this story comes in. The two gradually move away from each other because both are keeping secrets and frankly don’t trust each other. There are numerous instances where Griffin or Helios discover the other is keeping a secret and pretty much flat out say they don’t trust the other person. In fact the big ending fight scene is all because Helios didn’t trust Griffin. So clearly these two men have some pretty big issues in their relationship. Yet none of it is resolved or worked out. Instead they just ignore it, like they do the entire book, and have more sex. I get that these two love each other desperately but they have no ability to communicate and Griffin’s deathbed revelations are absurd. These sudden insights don’t solve any problems at all, which leaves me wondering how these two are ever going to work out. In fact I actually think they won’t and that really ruins the book for me.
What did work for me is the excellent writing. The author has a real flair for prose so the book flies by with ease. The vivid world building is much better and more thorough in this offering, with many other species introduced and playing prominent roles. These characters may be background but they definitely added to the wealth of the scenery and world. I liked the intricate politics and how boring and difficult such things are as that feels like a real inclusion. Likewise the affects of such a brutal and abrupt attack should have long reaching issues and it’s nice to see the story tackle that straight on without much watering down.
While there are some definite good things about the story, ultimately this didn’t work anywhere near as well as the first book and in fact makes me wonder about this strong, dynamic, and hot love affair that steamed up the pages of Uncommon Whore. While there is a lot of sex in WIF, it doesn’t have the same intensity and edge because the characters themselves feel unhappy with no resolution in sight. I’ll be curious to read any additional books in this series as I like the series and author’s writing quite a bit but I do feel as if this sequel took the shine off the first book and didn’t deliver. I really hate that feeling too.