Review: Be My Downfall

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Be My DownfallBe My Downfall by Lyla Payne
Series: Whitman University #3
Published by Author on September 20, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 308
Format: eBook
Source: Author
Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Toby Wright has always prided himself on being one of the most normal guys at Whitman University. He loves his parents, has a great job lined up after graduation, and with the exception of attempting to cross the unbalanced Sebastian Blair sophomore year, has kept his nose pretty clean.

But the rich never have empty closets, and memories long stashed away come spilling free when notorious party girl Kennedy Gilbert almost dies in his dorm room.

Nobody really knows how Kennedy manages to stay in good standing at Whitman–she never goes to class, doesn’t pretend to care about her future, and as far as people can tell, is never sober. This isn’t her first meeting with a stomach pump, but it is the first time she’s woken up to Toby’s concerned brown eyes. Despite the fact that she prefers life without friends, he gets under her skin with his insistence on playing her guardian angel.

No one knows better than Toby that people can only be saved if they want to be, but the realization that she has no one else draws him back into the shadows of Kennedy’s life–and eventually into her bed. But she long ago came to terms with a truth that Toby refuses to accept: she doesn’t want to be rescued, she only wants to forget.

Unwilling to give up on her, Toby’s dragged under by this broken girl and her dark, twisted Whitman University he never guessed existed. If he struggles to the surface, he’ll abandon someone he loves for the second time in his life. If he doesn’t, it won’t be long until they both drown.

In the interest of full disclosure, Lyla Payne’s a friend of mine. Normally, I wouldn’t necessarily pick up her books, because the generic new adult books don’t really interest me. They tend to be full of a lot of tropes that I get really sick of. Lyla’s books do have the basic formula: gorgeous, rich white people, dark pasts and quick, sexy romances, but they’re also, to me, more enjoyable than the average.

Dear readers, I will not lie to you: Kennedy and Toby instatrust all over one another. That was definitely my biggest frustration with Be My Downfall. Basically, I would have been happier without the odd coincidence of Kennedy, who doesn’t feel comfortable sleeping with anyone else in the world, falling asleep around Toby the first two times she meets him. I’ve noticed this trend in new adult novels, where hard-edged heroines with walls up immediately drop them around their love interest, and I don’t really get it. I think it’s a lot more romantic to see the walls slowly come down than some sort of fated thing where she can’t control the walls around the guy.

Anyway, aside from that, I actually really liked the way that Payne handled the issues. Kennedy’s really messed up, due to the death of the rest of her family in a car accident and her subsequent mistreatment by her grandmother. Still, there’s actually less of the terrible family stuff in this one than in a lot of other new adult novels. Toby’s family has some tense moments, but his parents obviously love him, even above the father’s career in government when it comes down to it and, before they died, Kennedy’s family was loving.

What impressed me most, though, was that Payne made it clear that love was not what fixed Kennedy. When they meet, Kennedy’s into a lot of bad things: alcoholism, recreational drug use, and asking guys to beat her up so that she can feel something, even if it’s pain. Having Toby in her life helps Kennedy, but Payne emphasizes over and over that only Kennedy can save herself. The idea that love can fix someone is one of those tropes I hate in new adult, and I like how Payne subtly put that down. At the end when, shocker, the two get together, Kennedy cleans herself up (View Spoiler ») without knowing whether he’ll take her back. That’s the kind of life change that will stick, unlike getting your life together for someone else. In that case, if Toby left her, she’d be back where she started. Payne’s actually promoting a much healthier way of thinking.

Oh, I also liked that this installment of the Whitman University series, though not having much more actual class time than the others, did show some thought to the future. Toby’s trying to make the choice of what to do after college, and I thought the struggle between what would make him money and what his actual passion is was a good one. Also, I thought it was cool how his screenwriting really helped him understand the people in his life, particularly his brother and Kennedy.

Payne does something different with perspective than she has before. In the others, from what I remember, the two main characters traded perspectives, but this time it’s almost entirely Toby’s first person POV. For Kennedy, their are brief snippets of third person. I thought this was fascinating, like Kennedy was so far gone that, even by the end she sort of saw herself as a character rather than herself, though perhaps I’m looking too far into it. The change to calling her Kennedy rather than “the girl” in the snippets is telling at any rate.

If you enjoy new adult romance, I definitely recommend Lyla Payne. They fit the genre, but I like that they’re a little bit self-aware on top of that.

Favorite Quote:

“Of all the support groups in all the halfway houses in all the world…you walk into mine.”

“Careful. Quoting Casablanca is known to cause spontaneous feelings in movie buffs worldwide.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

i am seriously fucked up

3 responses to “Review: Be My Downfall”

  1. Nori says:

    So this sounds a lot like other New Adult books, as you mentioned. Though, the fact that it’s not the romance that fixes the main character makes it sound very appealing. I really am starting to get annoyed with books that make relationships sound like the world’s only answer to tough situations.
    Nori recently posted…The Fiery Heart by Richelle MeadMy Profile

  2. Andrea says:

    I’m not a huge fan of NA either. As you said, they’re generic and I feel like it’s the same plot, just different characters and slightly different obstacles. If I do read a NA novel, it has to come with glowering reviews from trusted friends, in addition the the plot synopsis being intriguing.

    This book does sound like it would be one of the exceptions. I like that it focuses on the future too, as most NA books are more concerned with the here-and-now.

    And I’m one of those movie buffs, so I did have a spontaneous feeling over the quote.
    Andrea recently posted…Fractured Heart by Krystle Lewallen [Excerpt & Giveaway]My Profile

  3. our site says:

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