Love’s First Fall by Julie Sanford


I went into this one blind, and guessed from the title that it is a romance. The first few pages made me think, “Yet another erotica,” and I buckled down for a rough ride. I could not have been more wrong. This story is about love and loss, but more importantly about loving and accepting yourself. Unfortunately, that includes acknowledging the bad and some heavy-duty soul-searching.

Elizabeth is a therapist and she is good at her job. At first, she comments on being weary of addressing the same problems, but it quickly becomes clear that she cares for her patients and finds her own comfort in their emotional progress. Along comes the irresistible Christopher, a surgeon at the hospital. In one of her many uncontrollable moments of need – physical and mental – they rock each other’s world for a few hours. While I wasn’t impressed that she was cheating on her husband, the powerful dynamics of her relationships with both men are unexpected and complex; it is more than cheating and more than sex for the pure act.

Her marriage to Eric is no where near perfect and has fallen into ruin. They sleep in separate rooms, do not spend time together, nor even toss out a half-hearted goodbye or hello. The love they once shared is marred by a horrible tragedy that was painful to read. It is long before you actually find out what happened, that you realize they take dysfunction to a new level. There is still hope, though, as she loves him and wants to make amends. At the same time, Elizabeth is trying to help Christopher with what he thinks is a sex addiction. After meeting several times and some intense conversations, she finds out that he is dealing with his own hardships.

This is not a love triangle, even though it sounds like one; it is three people who have lost themselves and are not sure if they can be found. Who are they really? Can they return to the people they were before? Are they even capable of changing, or are they doomed to stagnate in their current state? The saying, “The Phoenix rises from the ashes,” is often overdone and people wish it could magically fix everyone who has suffered, but it actually applies here to a certain degree, and I don’t feel cheesy using it. They do not know who they were nor who they will evolve into if possible. While this is Elizabeth’s journey, it is also about the steps taken by each person to move on with their lives – whichever direction their path takes them.

To be honest, I did not care for Elizabeth right away, but she grew on me as she matured. Christopher is heart-breaking and easy to fall for. Eric is a character I empathized with and understood, but never got to the point of liking. Overall, my desire was for Elizabeth to find herself, whether it meant being with either of these men or striking out alone. Through pain and growth, the ending was so much more than I expected. Each character had to come to terms with their pasts and their futures, but the end of this journey was unexpected and perfect. Normally, lack of editing turns me away in less than five minutes, but this one kept me on the edge of my seat. That said, I still have to let you know that this hidden gem is in definite need of an editor. The fact that it did not deter me says a lot about this story. Just be prepared and know that “grown” is actually “groan”.

The rating:

  • Genre and general reading age – Contemporary for adults eyes only.
  • Level of sexuality – Considering the story centers around people who use sex as a destructive way to ease the pain, it was surprisingly low. There is a good deal of discussion on the topic, but at no point in this book did I feel turned-on.
  • Is there graphic language? A bit, but nothing really heavy and it was always used for emphasis, instead of cussing simply for the sake of cussing.
  • Did I cry? The tears shimmered in my eyes, but I was just able to suck them back down into my tear ducts.
  • Did I laugh? Only once and it caught me completely off-guard. I won’t spoil it for you, but you’ll know what I’m talking about when it happens. Mostly, the humor is minor and led to a few little smiles.
  • Is this part of a series? It is not, although if there was a sequel, I would grab it in a heartbeat.
  • Level of character development – Elizabeth is a finely tuned character. She is deep, and even when she is only partially acknowledging what her actions have cost others, she is constantly delving deeper. Christopher is a marvelous character to read. He is an onion and it would have been nice to see more layers pulled back, but he still has a deep impact. Eric is not as well-developed, but plays an instrumental part in the story. He is a bit one-dimensional, but his reactions and feelings are justified and easy to commiserate with, if not relate to.

Will I ever read this story again? Not until it gets a thorough edit, but after that, sign me up. It is a rollercoaster of emotions and has an ending that I will hold close forever. The writing style takes a bit to get used to – seriously long paragraphs and societal differences in grammar (if you’re not from the UK) – and can be distracting (again, if you’re not from the UK). There is the hint of an author new to the game, but it did not detract from the heart of this tale, and I look forward to reading more of her work. Do not go into this expecting romance, or a tear-jerker; it is neither. It is just a really good story that can reach a broad audience. Normally, I take away a star, sometimes two, for editing, but the ending more than redeemed it. I give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars and hope that everyone reads and shares this novel.

Available here on Amazon

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