Published by Bethany House on November 2, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, General, Romance
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Strong-willed Adri Rivera always dreamed of becoming a professional mixed martial artist, but then she fell in love with a man who smashed everything to pieces. When their tumultuous relationship finally comes to a head, Adri flees with their young daughter to her small hometown in the mountains of Pennsylvania. There, she must face the people she left behind and put her broken life back together as a single mother.
Adri struggles to regain her independence after so many years under the oppressive influence of her ex, but a job opportunity at a local gym gives her hope that she'll be able to stand on her own two feet. The one problem? The man who offers it to her is the handsome but hardened Max Lyons--her former best friend and training partner, whom she left heartbroken years before.
As Adri dares to pursue her dream again, training for a big tournament, can she confront her weakness and avoid the past defining her future?
After She Falls by Carmen Schober is not the type of book to which I would normally be drawn. I’m an equestrian, not a fighter. One of my coworkers trains in mixed martial arts, but I know nothing about it, beyond the fact that people punch each other. Tackling opponents to the hard surface of the ring is a very useful tactic when you are seeking victory. But…that’s about it (sorry, coworker Mason). I may have little understanding of MMA, but my parents raised me on sports—football and baseball especially. Maybe the romance aspect of After She Falls tugged at me, but a sports-themed novel? Sign me up.
Carmen Schober’s debut novel is a pleasant and easy read. She blends romance, redemption, and second chances in a way that flows like watercolors. Red, blue, and white to create a lavender. Adri Rivera gave up her dreams when she had her daughter, fathered by an abusive man. She takes her daughter and runs, returning to her hometown of Sparta. Max, a MMA fighter himself, was her best friend, training partner, and first love. When she shows up in Sparta, he struggles to trust her—and to overcome his anger—after Adri shattered their close relationship.
But Adri needs him, as a coach and as a friend. She may be unknown in the world of professional MMA, but no one should underestimate the underdog. Max is hard-hearted and critical of her being a Christian now, because what God could put her—and him—through their lives’ hardship and heartbreak.
In a way, After She Falls by Carmen Schober reminds me of David and Goliath. Adri faces doubt, taunts, and other barriers, both literal and figurative. Max’s soul is as impenetrable as stone. But they face their respective giants and take readers along on their journeys. With that explanation, you can correctly guess where the story goes and how the novel ends. Little in After She Falls is surprising. For me, anyway, it had no shocking moments. I knew its direction from the beginning to the final page.
The predictability, however, did not take away from the novel. After She Falls isn’t about the excitement, though of course the book features fights. Schober’s book centers around perseverance and forgiveness, salvation and victory. Each and every character is developed and believable, and they make me think of people in my own life. I loved After She Falls by Carmen Schober, and I can’t wait to read more of her wok in the future.