Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Falling for Rachel by Nora Roberts

Falling for Rachel (1993)
Nora Roberts
Grade: A-
Genre: romantic suspense
Sex scenes: standard mild and dreamy NR
Source: own
Stanislaski series: (1) Taming Natasha

I'm actually quite surprised. With all the stuff that I wrote in my review of Taming Natasha about the majority of later books in NR series being subpar, I've allowed myself the night to reflect and sitting here with my green tea (just plain), I find myself having enjoyed Falling for Rachel just as much as the previous two books in the series.

Rachel is a public defendant, worked off her feet. When she is assigned Nicholas LeBeck's case, she manages to see beyond his tough facade and sees the shaken, vulnerable boy underneath his gang jacket. He may be guilty of burglary and theft, but since he won't give up the names of his fellow gang members, Rachel is determined to save him from jail. So is Zack, Nick's step-brother. he puts up bail, agrees to pay for all the stolen merchandise, not just what was found on Nick, and gives Nick a home and a job at his bar, Lower the Boom.

Judge Beckett agrees to a two-month probationary period to monitor Nick. What Rachel and Zack hadn't counted on was being appointed Nick's co-guardians.

A little side-note here. Studying law myself, it was great to see Rachel at work. NR has an army of lawyers (Caine and Diana, Tempting Fate; Jared MacKade, The Pride of Jared MacKade; Deborah O'Roarke, Night Shadow; Delaney Brown, Savour the Moment and; Nate, Montana Sky to name a few) that is only second to the number of main characters that are cops, though I've never counted. I know I could never be a criminal defence lawyer having to defend clients that I know are guilty, yet trying to argue that they aren't. One of my seminar tutors is one and I don't think I could cope. So, just as a result of her profession alone, I have a great deal of respect for Rachel. She's brilliant in court and I only wish we could have seen how she works when she's cross-examining witnesses. Similarly with Judge Beckett, it's really good to see a female judge at work, especially one who seems so confident in her role. She advises Rachel later that  a clever woman can balance both work as a judge and a family, though she herself chose her career. This is of particular relevance and interest to me at the moment, both in terms of what I plan to do with my life after I graduate (I don't have a clue) and in terms of a project we have just finished.

Our group were asked to look at gender discrimination in the English Legal System and produce a presentation for my Frameworks of English law class. I focused on the feminist critique and others in my group looked at women in politics, female judges, the gender pay gap and the position of women who appeared before the courts. In my reading, I encounted much debate and feminist writing on this last topic. I didn't read much of it because it wasn't that relevant to what I was looking at, but the gist of it is that in rape cases especially, the victim becomes "the prime suspect," the "spitful, avenging harpie" as her story becomes the "standard form of sexual fantasy or even pornography in which she becomes the slut who turns men on and indicates her availability through every fibre of her clothing and demeanour."(1) Susan Brownmiller believes that men have created an "ideology of rape" through which "all men keep all women in a state of fear."(2) The legal system (speaking in a generalisation, not just specific to England) is male. It has been created by men, maintained by men and men are the standard by which values are judged. The law tries to make itself gender-neutral, but this in itself is damning to women because this neutrality in itself reflects male standards.(3) Attempts at sex equality are "a contradiction in terms," "conceptually designed never to be achieved" because it tries to unite two diamentrically opposed ideas: that of equality which presupposes 'sameness' and that of sex which presupposes 'difference.' Thus, sex equality cannot be achieved under the current perceptions of sex and gender because it requires that women be the same as those who set the standard: men, from whom we are already "socially defined as different from."(4)

Thus, my point is that given so much sex inequality and the socially constructed, deep-rooted and pervasive prejudice against women in the public sphere and in the law specifically, it's nice to see two women who've managed to carve out their place in this male profession.

Apologies to those who were only expecting a review - I just loved how relevant Falling for Rachel was to what I'm studying at the moment. As you can probably guess, I'm very passionate about feminist thought and its objectives - something that I'll leave to another post. Back to the review.

After reading about Freddie, Nick is about as different as it gets. He's nineteen, unemployed, part of a gang, self-dependent and deeply resentful of Zack who he sees as abandoning him for the sea the first chance he got. He was left with a sick mother and an angry step-father who could never stop singing Zack's praises. Thus, Nick is not best pleased at the prospect of having to live under Zack's watchful eye, his behaviour subject to scrutiny. I love how Rachel manages to gradually tease out Nick's thoughts and emotions; Nick's growing crush on Rachel is just plain funny to watch develop. Much like Terry's crush on Natasha in Taming Natasha, it only serves to show how irresistable the Stanislaski women are.

Rachel is reluctant to begin a relationship with Zack, not only because they're Nick's guardians. Zack is persistent and the scene where he comforts and feeds her after she's attacked by an angry client just pulls at your heart-strings. Nick's reaction on discovering their relationship is expected and I thought it would happen earlier, but I did not expect that he was going to confront Rachel afterwards. I admit, I thought the worst of him: that he would return to the Cobras and help them carry out their plan to rob Zack, so it was a nice surprise to see him rushing to save his brother.

A mention about the Stanislaski family 'reunion.' I was looking forward to this the whole way through because the family is just awesome. It didnt' quite click that Nick has a book of his own (Waiting for Nick) until I reached this chapter, though I was vaguely aware that the last two books of the Stanislaski series featured possibly Freddie and Brandon, Natasha's oldest two children. So when Katie (Natasha's youngest daughter) demands imperatively that Nick picks her up, I was horrified, my brain screaming 'Nick's book can't be with Katie! She's only five years old, at the most! He's a whole 15 years older than her! Cradle snatcher! What the fuck is NR thinking???' Then we get to Freddie falling into the first stages of infatuation with Nick (a much more acceptable six-year gap) and my heart slowed its frantic pumping and my brain started functioning rationally again. I know this will be a good read, when I manage to get my hands on a copy.

All in all, I really enjoyed this. I love Nick (a love for bad boys) and Rachel struck a personal bond with me. Zack didn't quite match up to some other NR heroes, and I found it harder to identify with him, but he's sweet and his love for his brother only endears me to him more. A good read.

Image courtesy of


Footnotes - there isn't a function to put in references, as I imagine the majority of bloggers don't use their blog to write essays, so I just had to put numbers in brackets. Here they are:

(1) Smart, Carol (1995) Law, Crime and Sexuality: Essays in Feminism, London: SAGE Publications Ltd, p83
(2) Brownmiller, Susan as quoted in Heywood, Andrew (2007) Political Ideologies: An Introduction, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, p249
(3) Kymlicka, Will (1990) Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p243
(4) MacKinnon, Catherine (1998) 'Difference and Dominance: On Sex Discrimination' in Phillips, Anne (ed.) Feminism and Politics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.295, 307

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