If I Fall is a wonderful romance novel. Ms. Noble is a writer whose noteworthy uses of her imagination and witty sense of humor have made me change my mind about historical romance novels-or at least reading more of her work. After having read a multitude (ok ten) reviews that praising her other titles I worried that I was in for a huge let down because no one can live up to that much praise; I was wrong to worry. This is one of the most enjoyable stories that I have read so far this year.
Sarah Forrester is playing a game of dual masks. In the public she has created “The Golden Lady”, a woman that is loved by all, bettered by no one, and all around shining star. In private she is a young woman trying to pick up the pieces after being left by her fiancé for another woman. Sarah feels that it is necessary to keep up the charade as long as she can stand up to the pressure of the ton. That is until Jackson Fletcher arrives in town after being at sea for close to a decade. He reminds her of the woman that she used to be and she is at turns happy and annoyed with his presence, especially when she is trying to be “The Golden Lady” around him. Jackson is not impressed with the new Sarah that has replaced his old friend and tries with an increasing sense of desperation to try to tease a semblance of his old friend out. For him, her transformation is a little more personal than he would like to admit. He has his own personal issues that he would rather not deal with, and so if he can somehow take his mind off those issues by interacting with Sarah then he will be more than happy to do so. So he decides to turn himself into the Blue Raven, a childhood hero of both Sarah and Jackson’s, in order to help Sarah become the person that she used to be. His plan is successful until he becomes embroiled in a murder mystery that could cause both he and Sarah to place them into a dangerous game of deception that might put their fledging relationship to the test.
What I found most remarkable about this story was the focus that she places on creating well developed cast of characters. The book has not only the main protagonist but a host of secondary characters that add another level of richness to the story without overwhelming the main story. Sarah and Jackson each have flaws (many of said flaws they share with one another) that they carry around like the proverbial chips that they are. Because of the excellent dialogue an execution you are made to sympathize and possibly empathize with their stories. Their familiar tales connect you to the story and force you to really engage in the story and what is going on. Sarah and Jackson are good people who followed the rules and still ended up with a crappy ending, or so they think. I enjoyed the twists and turns that both Sarah and Jackson have to go through.
Ms. Noble’s humor is the type that can quickly and easily find funny moments in even the most mundane situation. What can easily be labeled a conventional conversation with the most trite and predictable answers can easily overcome itself with a sharp one liner straight to the heart of the matter. Her casual plotting of the romance between the main protagonists and the unraveling of the mystery can at times seem very slow and some of the scenes unnecessary (about half way through the book I wondered where this damn book was going),but in hindsight I see that the pacing is done deliberately to keep the reader guessing not only about who the villain is but also to further set up the much needed time that a couple needs to believably fall in love- especially in such over the top circumstances. Ms. Noble is fiercely dedicated to crafting this world and these off-beat and yet familiar characters. Her superb research skills and adroitness in weaving those facts into her narrative without being heavy handed is much appreciated. Stylistic tricks like flash forward and flash backs at the beginning of chapters (and throughout the story) are used to great effect. Overall, If I Fall is an excellent historical romance novel that I recommend to everyone to enjoy. Well played, Ms. Noble. Well played.
After a duke's betrayal, the resilient Sarah Forrester reinvents herself as society's leading light-the life of the party. It's all a facade of course. When an old friend returns to London, he's determined to rediscover the true and trusting Sarah he once knew. But it'll take more than a kiss and a promise-it might even call for an innocent and necessary deception.