Oh, if only I were brave enough to live like fiction. Then again, that’s what living vicariously is for, right? I’m good at that. I’ll leave the Live Like Fiction challenge to the braver ones. Yes, I can feel you shaking your head sadly at me, universe. I know your feel. I can be brave over something else instead, okay?
Learning to Fall is the fourth Mina V. Esguerra book I’ve finished so far, after Never Just Friends, My Imaginary Ex, and The Harder We Fall. Does that officially make me a fan? ^_^
“Go out with a stereotypical romance novel hero WHO ISN’T YOUR TYPE.”
Avid reader and art student Steph is participating in a monthly blog challenge to Live Like Fiction, and this was the task for October. When Grayson, former co-captain of her university rugby team, walks into her class, she knows it’s meant to be – she has to go out with this guy. Even if she’s never been attracted to big, hunky, athletic types. With Grayson’s “player” reputation off the field, Steph thinks he’ll be good for one date that’ll be worth blogging about, and that’s it.
But you know how it goes: Soon, it becomes more than just one date – and Steph and Grayson are caught up in “living like fiction.” How long can they keep playing their roles before reality steps in?
BUY A COPY OF LEARNING TO FALL!
Click the Read More link below for my review of Learning To Fall. Not spoiler free, I’m warning you.
Steph, a book blogger currently on hiatus, meets former rugby team captain Grayson when he poses *cough*half-naked*cough* for an art class she supervises as a student assistant. And the timing is convenient because she’s been doing this Live Like Fiction challenge for a while now, and her next endeavor is to “Go out with a stereotypical romance novel hero WHO ISN’T YOUR TYPE.” That’s Grayson, apparently, because she admittedly wasn’t into the athletic ones. Because he’s a good sport (and a nice guy in general), he agrees, and they hit it off quite well.
Scratch that. I meant extremely well, in that they go from 0 to 10,000 in the kilig scale so fast I might as well have been hit by a bullet train named Stayson.
But of course, a love story is not a love story without the challenges that would make or break a ship you’ve already begun to root for. Steph has her issues about not knowing what to do yet with her life after college, that bit about her family being her safety net and all, and not being sure about her final project at school. Meanwhile, Grayson has his own share of family strife as well as career decisions that eventually involve Steph. When you put an overachieving captain together with an indecisive yet resolute young woman in a flimsy paper loveboat, do they weather the storm together or swim away from each other?
Or does the loveboat become a goddamn unsinking ship?
What I loved
Designer jokes. Gotta love them. <3
When Steph met Grayson for the first time, he was reduced to his red boxer briefs. That’s worth mentioning because reasons. I mean, not everyone can pull off red boxer briefs, so I’m just like . . . well, hello there, thinking how lucky the ladies were in that class to have been blessed with such a sight. I know, objectification. It’s kind of a thing. If there’s something this book doesn’t scrimp on, it’s definitely the heat. (My Pantone might have been 276C though. Heh.) And I’m not even talking about the sex.
You feel it when Steph and Grayson look at each other or talk about their own stuff, even when they’re having a non-argument in the car on the way to Steph’s parents’ house. You feel it when he goes to a book signing event with her, when they figure out their own “shared routine” thing . . . they don’t even say the three little words, but you know it’s just there somewhere, all these little pieces spell it out, and it’s just so nice to “watch” as it unfolds.
Oh he did. He really did.
I haven’t read a lot of sports romance–heck I haven’t read a lot of romance for that matter–but this is something I learned while reading this book: Being super technical about the sport isn’t important; it’s the way you naturally weave the elements of the sport into your story that makes it believable.
Case in point, there are no actual rugby games in this story, but there’s a lesson in falling. And that was a really clever move, because falling could mean 1) the actual act of falling, as in being tackled in rugby, 2) failing at something, as in Steph kind of failing to find her footing in this phase of her life, and 3) falling in love with someone. The lesson in falling was introduced at the beginning of the book, and it made for a very nice overall theme. Grayson’s been a captain to Steph through and through, in that he helped steer her toward a better understanding of herself.
I distinctly remember this one scene where Steph shows Grayson the art pieces she’d been working on and he just stands there and looks at them carefully, says something about how he’s good at putting people in the right positions (we’re talking rugby team here, please), and tells her “Let me help you.” I swear to god I just. I couldn’t. Grayson might not be an “art person” but it’s so him, so captain-y to take the lead and make Steph feel like she isn’t completely lost, to encourage her, more importantly. Okay, I’ll say it: If only for that, I already love Grayson. <3
*cries tears of blood*
Grayson kind of confuses me in that–and I could be wrong?–he’s an alpha hero who’s also a beta hero. The mix is all sorts of sexy and sweet. And very hot. Steph meanwhile is smart, maybe even smarter than she’d ever take credit for, and though you can argue about how sound some of her decisions have been (but I mean, come on, everyone’s entitled to bad decisions every once in a while), you know how her heart is in the right place. Until it isn’t, because she almost didn’t do Grand Gesture Time.
Stayson is one of those couples that just “make sense.” I’m personally not a fan of instant hookups, but the way their story progressed showed how they could be really good for each other, how they could both support each other in their own ways without forcing anything. They had great chemistry (those banters, ugh), and their relationship was far from perfect but close to an ideal one considering the kind of people they are. I didn’t shed tears reading it, but I was so happy when I reached the end. Because I’m a sucker for happy endings like that. 😛
Overall rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Plus points for: 1) That steamy scene with injury talk. Dear. God. In. Heaven. I cannot put into words the feelings I have for that scene but I’m just going to say “DIRECT HIT ON HEADSPACE” like it will make sense to anyone else.
2) “Grand gesture time.”
“[ insert sports analogy here ]”
“I was afraid of this.”
Because of this story, I wish I could: Live like fiction, but I’m a wuss. >_<;;
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance, young adult, and new adult novellas. Through her blog Publishing in Pajamas (minavesguerra.com), she documents her experiments in publishing.
When not writing romance, she is president of communications firm Bronze Age Media, development communication consultant, indie publisher, professional editor, wife, and mother. She created the workshop series “Author at Once” for writers and publishers, and #romanceclass for aspiring romance writers.
Her young adult/fantasy trilogy Interim Goddess of Love is a college love story featuring gods from Philippine mythology. Her contemporary romance novellas won the Filipino Readers’ Choice awards for Chick Lit in 2012 (Fairy Tale Fail) and 2013 (That Kind of Guy).