All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Heaven Should Fall – Rebecca Coleman

on October 9, 2012

Heaven Should Fall
Rebecca Coleman
Harlequin MIRA
2012, 351p
Copy courtesy of Harlequin AU

Jill Wagner has been alone since her mother’s death. Then she meets Cade Olmstead, a passionate political advocate and they fall head over heels in love. They are the typical university couple – young idealists, their whole lives ahead of them. Cade wants to escape his small-minded family and their New England farm. University was his big chance to map his life out so that he never had to go back.

Then Jill got pregnant.

Everything changes in an instant then and they are forced to retreat to the farm until the baby is born and then they can regroup and Cade can try and finish his studies and get a job that will once again, take them away. Jill, who has no family, isn’t sure why Cade was so dead-set against her meeting his and especially going back there but when she arrives on the farm, it doesn’t really take her long to see why. Cade’s mother tends to his father, cowed by a stroke that stopped him being the bully he was when Cade was young. Cade’s older brother Elias is back from Afghanistan and he’s damaged by what he saw and was party to over there. Cade’s sister is overly-pious and completely dotes on her bigoted husband’s every word.

It is only Jill who senses that Elias’s problems are much deeper than anyone else thinks. Cade can’t see his combat-veteran brother as the type of person who might suffer from something like depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder and the rest of the family seem content to let Elias live his life on the couch. Jill, heavily pregnant now, tries to help Elias as best she can and they form a fragile friendship that also only serves to remind Elias of what he does not and will never have.

But it isn’t enough and Elias’s way out of his nightmare changes things in the Olmstead family. Cade, once bright, passionate and dedicated turns inward in bitterness and seething resentment. He finds more time to spend with his brother-in-law when before he couldn’t tolerate him. Jill gets the idea that Cade is planning something stupid and dangerous with the brother-in-law and she knows that she needs to get herself and her newborn son out of there before she gets dragged down with Cade and the rest of this family.

Jill lacked a family growing up. Her mother raised her alone, a recovering alcoholic who also cut off her own parents, alcoholics of the non-recovering variety. Jill’s whole upbringing revolved around the twelve steps and when her mother died in a light plane crash when Jill was in University, it left her adrift in the world without anyone to really count on except Dave, a man who ran the summer camp Jill worked at as a counselor over several summers. Then she met Cade and the two of them knew they wanted to be together. Jill was interested in meeting Cade’s family, seeing as they planned to get married someday but it seemed as though Cade was always putting that off, avoiding taking her out there. When Jill got pregnant, they apparently had no choice but to go back there – Cade’s volunteering for local congressman, representatives and state senate campaigns haven’t netted him an internship and they have no income. Once they arrive at the remote farm, Jill is surprised that the family is not at all what she expected.

I found Elias’s story the most interesting and Jill’s attempt to help him, which she struggles to do without making it seem like she’s pitying Elias, or coddling him. There’s a sort of barrier between Elias and Jill, given that Jill is his brother’s pregnant girlfriend but Elias can talk to her more than he can talk to anyone else in the family. I felt that Jill really did try her best to help Elias but the situation they were in made it difficult for her (and also for him) and it seemed like Jill was really the only one trying, except for a family friend. Everyone else seemed preoccupied with other things and after all, Elias was a soldier. It seemed like most people felt he should be able to handle it.

Where I couldn’t connect with this book was in the after, where Jill becomes suspicious of her husband’s activities and just what he’s getting up to out in the shed. She knows what he’s doing (or at least has a pretty good idea) and she just…sits there. And does nothing. She has more than one chance to leave, she has several people that tell her they will help her and her small son anytime she needs it but she doesn’t go. It’s wrapped up in waiting for an operation for the baby, but if that was me and my child and my husband was in that sort of business, I would be gone. You can get a new operation date. The most important thing is the safety of your child and the environment had become (or perhaps, had always been) toxic. I felt like Jill was being really ridiculous, especially the way in which she indulges Cade towards the end of the book, intimately. I know that being raised without a family made Jill want one desperately and perhaps idealise what it was like to have one, but you have to be smart about things and she really was not very smart at all. And that disappointed me, because I prefer strong women who aren’t afraid to make tough decisions.

Heaven Should Fall felt like a good idea to me and I quite enjoyed parts of the story but it really felt like Cade’s disintegration morally was a bit of a stretch of the imagination. It didn’t feel real or genuine to me and neither did Jill’s response to it.


Book #199 of 2012

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