on March 1st 2016
Genres: Friends to Lovers, New Adult, Second Chance Romance
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She didn't expect to fall for her best friend.He was always waiting to catch her.
Corinne Bennett lives in the moment. Whether she's skydiving out of an airplane, or setting off on the road to anywhere, she's ready to dive into the next adventure. That is, if best friend and always-by-the-book Nicholas Kelley doesn't put his foot down on her wild stunts first.
When Corinne gives in to her growing feelings for Nicholas the summer before their freshman year of college, she takes the ultimate risk, making this one adventure he has longed to explore with her.
But the moment they take that irrevocable leap, a shocking revelation blindsides Corinne, exposing her vulnerabilities, baring her fears, and shattering her beliefs about love. With their future—and more importantly, their friendship—now clouded in doubt, she must decide if love is really worth the risk.
Because when it comes to love, you never stop falling.
As much as I would love to say that I devoured this book and read it in one sitting, that would be a lie. The devoured part was absolutely true, but the one sitting, not so much… Now let me tell you why: the prologue. When sent a copy of this book for a review, Ashley warned us that this would be angst filled and emotional but broken up with sweet and funny times. What I didn’t expect was to be smacked in the face with uncertainty, heartbreak, fear, and terror, but the difference between the fear and terror were for two completely separate reasons. This prologue messed with my head quite badly as it addresses a big and yet very real fear of mine (if, or better yet, when you read this, you’ll understand what it is). I was terrified. I was crying. At that point, I needed to calm down again before I could continue so I put it down for a few days, read something light and ridiculous, and came back to it with a clear mind. The prologue is a sucker punch of feelings, and you can be sure to get all of those emotions back at strategic points throughout the novel.
“I gasp. My ears shut out all the panic around me so that I hear nothing else. And then my gasp is silenced by my heavy breaths. And my breathing is silenced by my pounding heart.
And then everything falls silent.
Except for his words. They echo in my head, the last words I might’ve heard him say.”
I really enjoyed how this story started with the lives of Cori and Nick as teenagers. Ashley showed us their solid base in order to make their relationship believable. As a reader I appreciate this more than if an author starts the story later down the line and just explains that the main characters spent all this time together, we’re best friends, etc. In Never Stop Falling, we got to experience Cori and Nick before they were even an item. Nick had developed feelings for Cori, but the treat was seeing our heroine come to this realization on her own. They were sweet together, everything you’d want a young, deep, love to be – even if it was uncertain what their relationship would or could become. Even at this young age you could tell it would be all consuming.
I try my hardest to keep my reviews spoiler free, and this case is no different. However, there is one piece of information that I need to share in order to move along with this review. I hate spoilers as much as the next person, so please trust me when I say this does not ruin or give away any part of the story. There is an incident, as hinted to in the synopsis. Because of this, Cori and her mother move away, leaving Nick behind. It’s six years later before our main characters come face to face again. I will repeat. This gives nothing away, it only strengthens and later uncovers the harboured feelings they both have towards each other.
There were times when I really liked Cori’s character. There were also times I really didn’t like Cori’s character. She could be dense, stubborn, defensive, did I mention stubborn? This was the only reasoning I could come up with as to why I wouldn’t be rating Never Stop Falling as 5 stars. Her indecisiveness and back and forth behaviour were aggravating. But then when she was with Nick, I loved her again. When she could finally let her self go and be vulnerable is where she developed as a character. This is where she could love and grow and the hope for this attribute was what stopped me from wanting to strange her at times. I could understand that it was an extremely uncommon and difficult situation for her and Nick to wade through, but sometimes you just need to trust in each other and have faith in yourselves and each other. Nick could do this, so it was hard to bare with Cori as she went back and forth over the thought of them and if/how they could possibly have a chance together. When she was finally as adventurous, free and open as what we’d expect the heroine to be from the synopsis, we finally got to see the true girl hiding beneath – the one I loved when we glimpsed into their past as teenagers.
“We may have fallen out of touch, Nick, but I never fell out of us, because I will never stop falling for you. I’ve always known I wanted this…wanted us…and to say that I was in denial would be the biggest understatement.”
Nick was everything you could ever want in a book boyfriend, except maybe if you’re into hard core alphas. But then again if you were, you probably wouldn’t be picking up this book. He was patient and kind, charming and light hearted, sweet and determined. He always knew what he wanted and the depth of his feelings was always present. There was a lot of angst coming from this character while he struggled with guilt and desire all while balancing his integrity and his heart. Ever since they were kids his devotion for Cori has been unwavering, and seeing him struggle when she came back into his life was heart wrenching. He always wanted to do the right thing but he knew the second she came back that things were going to get messy. He tried to avoid it, but that type of past doesn’t stay in buried for long. I have so many quotes highlighted from Nick’s dialogue, it was hard to narrow it down. Not only were there heartfelt and breathtaking moments, but he had an uncanny ability to calm and ground Corinne. He could infuse humour into a serious situation or know just the right things to say when she needed to hear them. I found absolutely no flaws in his character.
“You tore your way through my thoughts even when I tried to push you out of them. Cori, every goddamn day, I’ve thought of you. When I wake up. When I go to bed. In my dreams. I am always thinking of you.”
“Eighteen-year-old Cori was definitely hot. The center of every boy’s fantasy, which unfortunately, I had to bear witness to.” The thought of Aiden and Chase comes to mind and still drives me fucking crazy. “But you? Now? Stunning. Radiant. A goddamn knockout,” I unabashedly admit, placing a kiss between each adjective—one below her left ear, one below her right, and one at the base of her throat. “And instead of a boy’s fantasy…every man’s desire.”
I like that throughout, the focus was always pointed on the main couple. There were secondary characters in the and yes their roles were important in the story, but they never took attention away from the main happenings. They supported Nick. They helped Corinne come to terms with different events from her life. They helped to show them what their hearts always knew but yet they never could get the timing right until it could very well be too late. They helped these two fight for what they really wanted, defend them and build them back up again. There also happened to be some pretty great advise along the way.
“Love is beautiful and strange; it can make the heart complete and whole and yet, it’s also capable of smashin’ it into a million pieces. […] The ugly side is unavoidable. Someone will get hurt. Ain’t nothin’ you can do about it. But I’ll tell ya, once you’re out of the ugly stuff, it’s so damn beautiful.”
The plot was done in such a way that we were given a balance of sweet, charming moments and angst. Whenever things got too heavy, Ashley took it just that little bit further and then would give the reader a break with something lighter. This concept was kept fairly consistent throughout the entire book. The first twist I was definitely not expecting! I could not even comprehend how a family would handle that situation, so I can completely believe Cori’s actions. She needed to get as far away from the life she knew as possible, so that’s what she did; not realizing at the time what consequences and set backs this may cause for her down the road. There was one specific moment I can think of where I really wasn’t sure how Ashley would make their situation work. It seemed too far gone, like neither character would truly fight for what they not only wanted but needed. Beyond this point, there were a few scenes that were a touch cliche and a little predictable (even if I didn’t want it to be! This was one instance where I didn’t want my prediction to come true), but the pull between the characters and their chemistry was powerful. The second half of the book started to go quite quickly for me and I couldn’t stop flipping through page after page. Before I knew it, I only had a handful of chapters left.
I was warned that this book wouldn’t be a fun or typical New Adult read, and thank goodness for that. I went through so many emotions in is book, at times I just had to stop for a moment and digest what I was feeling. The entire relationship felt genuine – I’ve never known anyone to go through this type of situation, but none the less it was completely plausible. I believe the struggle in both characters was portrayed well, along with confusion and uncertainty and trying to avoid broken hearts. Sometimes you just have to take that risk. At this point I fear that I’m sounding like a broken record with how I felt about these two and how every emotion was portrayed for the reader to experience it. All I can do now is use quotes as evidence.
“Love is full of risks. Losing the person you love is one of them, and you have to be willing to take it.
Jumping out of an airplane, scaling down a hundred-foot cliff, and road tripping it across the country with nothing but the shirt on her back, are all risks that Cori is willing to take.
Losing me isn’t one of them.
So, I applaud you, Cori. You have succeeded in getting what you want, yet again.
She can never lose me.
But I will always lose her.”
“I’ve emptied my heart, pouring every ounce of love out of it, the effects of my admission leaving it hollow, cold. Not only is it an empty heart now, but one covered in endless cracks. A cracked and empty heart. I pity the person who’d even want an attempt at fixing it.”
I mentioned earlier about Cori’s fear. The reader is let known early on that Cori doesn’t show fear. She’s an adrenaline junky, spontaneous and adventurous to the bone.
“Fear is a weakness, and lightning will have to strike me first before I show it.”
What we find out later on is that it’s when Cori slows down and can let her guard down, amazing things may happen. Don’t get me wrong, her guard is in place for a good reason; she has no idea what love is anymore, but the determination to move on from this without addressing the issue is her biggest downfall. Her character development was showcased in this situation, and again especially within the last few chapters. It’s mind numbing to consider one small moment can spring an avalanche of events into place, but sometimes vulnerability is the key to unlocking both your future and releasing your past.
“What you and I share, it’s scary. It’s really fucking scary because we could have everything together and lose it all. It’s risky and it terrifies me but I know it’ll be worth it. Because I want you. I want us. It’s been you and me since day one, Cori, and I want it to be you and me for the rest of our lives. Whatever fears you have going into this, we’ll face them together. So please, stop running, and stay with me. Just…be with me.”
Without spoilers, there was a major epiphany I had while reading. One pivotal moment when everything made sense. I’m positive this was Ashley’s intent, but there were two small details that unless you were paying attention, could easily be overlooked. One was as simple as four numbers strung together. Quite a common occurrence, am I right? I didn’t think about this too much; it stuck out to me but just as an odd choice, nothing more. The next chapter, it was something as simple as a two digit number. That’s it. Two digits that could be used multiple times a day, in an unimaginable amount of circumstances. These two moments together clicked into place immediately for me and I absolutely lost my mind. It wasn’t even a gutting part of the book, something was happening that I had actually hoped for! But when I realized the entire connection, my heart broke. Tears started to silently stream down my face to the point where I couldn’t see the pages. I’m tearing up about it again now and it just brings everything back to the prologue. I put this down for a solid hour and immediately texted Beatriz for help. I needing backup to get through the ending and thankfully I got it. I can’t say anymore other than read the book.
We believe every reader has the right to know what they’re getting into when starting a book. For these reasons, I’m giving you the following (again, spoiler free – sorry) disclaimer.
1. If cheating is a hard limit for you, maybe this isn’t your type of book. This has never been my issue, and if an author can execute it well, I’ll respect them even more because I know it is a difficult topic. Ashley handles this with ease and precision, and I do encourage you to give it a try.
2. This book deals with a major event which shook the entire world, devastated millions and is still thought about on a daily basis. It’s a hard situation to read and for anyone who may have suffered through this tragedy or has family and friends affected by it, we offer you our deepest sympathies. It is possible that reading about this event or even the prologue has the potential to act as a trigger. People all react differently and this will cause an array of reactions from readers; ours being complete and utter dismay.
I’m so glad Ashley found our blog and sent us a copy of Never Stop Falling. This is the type of story that has the power to be a wake up call or to haunt your dreams with what ifs. For this being a debut novel, I’m astounded with how well it’s written. Ashley excelled in her character set up and development, emotional portrayal and the overall structure. She delivers enough angst to crush your soul while soothing the burn with heart warming moments.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I may have found a few quotes that I liked or deemed memorable. This is one in particular that I think more people need to be told in their lives. Take risks. Jump in feet first and don’t look back. The only thing scarier than potential disappointment is regret.
“Listen to me, Nicky boy, don’t take the easy road, because I hate to tell ya, in the road to love, it’s always complicated, filled with bumps and potholes, dead ends and sharp curves. When ya take the easy road, kid, you often end up where you were never meant to go. Ignore your head and follow your heart because your head will only overanalyze the situation, and you’ll be runnin’ in circles forever.”
*ARC was generously received from the author in exchange for an honest review.