Book Review – And If I Fall by Robin Reardon

A big thanks to Robin Reardon for the opportunity to read and review!


And If I Fall
Author: Robin Reardon
Publisher: IAM Books/Self-Published
Pages: 327
Characters: Jude Connor
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Contemporary

Blurb:
Jude Connor’s rural Idaho hometown is a place of strong values and high expectations. For those who fit into the local church’s narrow confines, there’s support and fellowship. For those who don’t, there’s ostracism in this life and damnation in the next.

Jude wants desperately to be saved—to believe with the fervor of the charismatic Reverend Amos King, whose sermons are filled with brimstone and righteousness. But every time Jude thinks he’s found the right path, there’s a fork in the road, and Truth seems to be in a different direction.

As much as Jude craves the certainty the church offers, he finds himself at odds with it. Without intentionally rebelling, he befriends Pearl Thornton, considered an unrepentant heathen; he craves the support of Gregory Hart, whose church standing is questionable; and the feelings he has for his friend Tim Olsen make him fear for his own soul. But then Reverend King offers Jude sanctuary, special guidance, and a path into the Light.

Will Reverend King be able to help Jude preserve his place in heaven? Or will the reverend’s own demons cause hell to swallow them both? The answer lies in Jude’s willingness to follow his own path—even if it leads him far from everything he’s known.

Buy Links:
Author’s Website
Amazon
iBooks/iTunes
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
Also available through Ingram Spark.

Review

And If I Fall tackles a subject that is not always easy to write about. I liked the thoughtful way the author approaches religious beliefs.

Jude, the main and POV character, is a great window into his world as he gradually realises the truth about himself, his world, and a man he holds on a pedestal. The story has very strong themes about being true to yourself and not living a lie. I think it is all the more powerful for not being preachy when it would have been very easy to do so. I liked the way it gave a balanced view of each side, and how the saints of the church were portrayed as good people with strong beliefs and sense of community. Growing up in a community, it is often difficult to see perspectives outside what you’ve been brought up to believe is the only truth, and children in particular often think their way of life is the only one there is.

I liked the way in which Jude slowly becomes aware of his sense of self, his slide into becoming someone he thinks he should be, and then his journey back to his true self. Some of his observations had me nodding, and although I guessed the truth about some of the characters before he did, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. Jude’s journey takes him in one direction, but others take different paths, and I liked that about the story. I felt sorry for a couple of the characters—one who decides to follow the expectations put upon him, and another who had tried to do that and failed. And for Jude’s struggle to reconcile his beliefs and the teaching of his church with his feelings for Tim.

There were some lines from the story that really stood out for me. Gregory tells Jude that that he’s come out of the baptism water “not full of love but some ugly fake version of himself.” And Jude’s realisation that he’s becoming “less blinded by the light.”

Characterisation is a huge strength of this book, and it isn’t just Jude who has motivations and secrets. I enjoyed reading about his family, and those who take on the role of family. They were interesting people and felt very real. I particularly liked the characters of Pearl, Gregory, and Dolly. Although they act as foils to open Jude’s eyes to another perspective, they are very much more than that.

I’d recommend And If I Fall to readers who enjoy a thought provoking powerful story about reconciling religious beliefs with sexuality. Highly recommended. 5 out of 5 stars.

Author Bio

Robin Reardon is an inveterate observer of human nature, and her primary writing goal is to create stories about all kinds of people, some of whom happen to be gay or transgender–people whose destinies are not determined solely by their sexual orientation or identity. Her secondary writing goal is to introduce readers to concepts or information they might not know very much about. (See the “Digging Deeper” sections on some of the individual book pages for links to background information and research done for the novels.)

Robin’s motto is this: The only thing wrong with being gay is how some people treat you when they find out.

Interests outside of writing include singing, nature photography, and the study of comparative religion. Robin writes in a butter yellow study with a view of the Boston, Massachusetts skyline.

Contact:
Website
Email
Facebook
Twitter

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at https://annebarwell.wordpress.com
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