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(Trust) Falling for You by Charish Reid

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(Trust) Falling for You

by Charish Reid
February 19, 2021 · Charish Reid
Contemporary RomanceNovellaRomance

(Trust) Falling for You is a fun, sweet novella about two college professors with very, very different personal and teaching styles falling for each other on a Team Building retreat in the woods of Wisconsin. This retreat, incidentally, sounds both like an HR nightmare and the sort of thing guaranteed to result in multiple letters to Ask a Manager, and also precisely like something that someone in academic administration would decide was a brilliant thing to inflict on professors. (I speak as someone who works in academic administration. I would not do this. But it was HORRIFYINGLY plausible. I have SEEN THINGS.)

Anyway. Yolande is the ‘fun’ professor, a born educator who brings literature to life for her students. She is also a bit of a last-minute wonder – everything gets done, but only at the last possible moment. Samuel, on the other hand, is driven, ambitious, and hyper-organised, with no time to spare for chit-chat with colleagues. He’s a good teacher, but very much not a people person.

When a burst pipe forces them to share the same cabin for six nights as Team Building Buddies (or, as the organiser calls them, TB buddies – and yes, Yolande and her friends are exactly as sarcastic about this unfortunate choice of name as any reasonable person would be) they are mutually horrified. They may be attracted on a physical level, but they find each other unrelentingly infuriating on a personal level.

There was a lot to like about this story. The humour and the female friendships were fun, and I liked how Sam and Yolande treated each other. There was a lot of honesty between them, and while they weren’t above using some of the TB activities to vent their irritation with each other, they were both good at listening and at apologising. And an ability to apologise was very, very necessary in this story. They are also both people for whom kindness and respect are a default. Even when Sam is utterly frustrated with Yolande, he will still rescue her from grasshoppers and spiders.

I also liked that they both had things to learn from each other. Yolande has been missing opportunities due to her tendency to just mute emails that look annoying and boring, and Sam has been missing less tangible but equally important opportunities by making his life so very narrow and empty of everything but work. I enjoyed seeing him loosen up enough to begin making friends as the book progressed.

It can be difficult to make a romance work convincingly in the short space of a novella, especially one that has a time frame of only a week, because there just isn’t time for emotional intimacy to develop in that time. One clever thing this book did was put our two main characters not just in a forced proximity situation, but also in a situation where they were constantly required to perform activities specifically designed to increase trust and encourage emotional honesty and intimacy. Add a frisson of danger, and I found the journey to emotional intimacy convincing.

However, I did feel like this story needed more length in which to unfold. There are several places where we are led up to something, and then it cuts to the next scene – it almost feels like a chapter is missing. So, for example, Sam’s tendency to be rigidly organised springs from a chaotic and difficult childhood and a fear of falling back into poverty, something touched on briefly in one of his POV chapters earlier in the book. Later we hear that Sam and Yolande stayed up late talking about their families and childhoods. So presumably that tendency is resolved or discussed in a useful way, but it doesn’t happen on the page. I think this conversation needed to be more present, because while Yolande is right to want to coax Sam out of his shell, knowing and understanding where some of his rigidity comes from is kind of important if they are going to have a relationship in the long term.

Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The best romances, to my mind, are those in which two people help each other to become better and happier versions of themselves, and (Trust) Falling For You has this in spades. Really, my only complaint is that I wanted more of it – more story, more opportunities to see the characters together, more of everything. Which is a pretty nice complaint to have.

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