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Emma Montague is ready to retire. Or at least ready to step away from the high-pressure, image-conscious world of banking in Manhattan, which is how she has spent the last several years. She has been smart with her money and has a nice little nest egg, enough to enable her to follow her good friend and former colleague, Sophie, to the picturesque coastal town of Westport, Connecticut, where she entertains dreams of pursuing her talent for interior design as more than a hobby.

And when she rents a cozy but completely hideous beachfront house, she realizes that her first project might be right at her front door. At first, she’s worried about offending her landlord, Dominic, by making substantial changes to a house that’s been in his family for decades. But eventually her desire to live in a beautiful home (not to mention develop her portfolio) wins out over her worries about hurting Dominic’s feelings.

"Once again, Jane Green has delivered a thoughtful, heartfelt novel that’s just about perfect summer reading."

As for Dominic, he’s possibly the most eligible bachelor in Westport. A handsome single dad who can cook (even if he can’t build bookshelves, as he claims), he frequently fends off the advances of women who flirt with him while tending bar at the local pub. He’s absolutely not Emma’s type --- she wasn’t looking to get involved with anyone, let alone a man with a young son --- but just as her friends and new acquaintances predict, she soon finds herself increasingly drawn to this charming, kind, attentive man, for better or for worse. But when complications enter the picture --- from old flames to disapproving parents --- Emma must decide how fervently to claim this new life she’s creating for herself.

Jane Green is a skilled storyteller, adept at creating three-dimensional characters and placing them in realistic, compelling situations. Emma, for all her wealth and ambition, is also believably vulnerable and, at times, insecure. Her genuine ambivalence toward Dominic’s son, Jesse, and uncertainty about her role in their strong relationship is a complication that is developed throughout the novel in a way that will ring true to anyone who has been part of a stepfamily.

At times, FALLEN can seem as if it’s veering toward the predictable or easy, relying on standard romance plots (upper-class English girl falls for Italian-American working boy, biological mom threatens nascent stepmom relationship, etc.). But even these potentially overdone plot elements seem fresh and unexpected under Green’s pen, especially when she adds a thoroughly unexpected, bittersweet plot twist that turns all of Emma’s plans and expectations upside down.

Once again, Jane Green has delivered a thoughtful, heartfelt novel that’s just about perfect summer reading.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on July 20, 2016

by Jane Green

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0399583300
  • ISBN-13: 9780399583308