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Falling Down

Narrated by: Michael Stellman
Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)
Regular price: £18.29
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Summary

Josh finds himself homeless at 18, but he has a plan. He’ll head north on the bus to New England and spend October there for his mother’s sake. She always talked about going to see the fall leaves someday. And when the leaves are done and the harsh winter comes, Josh plans to find a place to curl up and let go. It will be a relief to finally stop fighting. 

Mark spent his life trying to live up to the tough swagger of his older brothers until he pushed himself so far against his nature that he cracked. Now a former Marine, he rents a little cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he can lick his wounds and figure out what to do with the rest of his life. One thing was clear: Mark was nobody’s hero. 

Fate intervenes when Josh sets up camp under a covered bridge near Mark’s cabin. Mark recognizes the dead look in the young stranger’s eyes, and he feels compelled to do something about it. When Mark offers Josh a job, he never expects that he’ll be the one to fall. 

The snow is coming soon. Can Mark convince Josh that the two of them can build a life together before the flurries begin? 

Trigger warning: Suicidal thoughts

©2016 Jane Holmes (P)2019 Jane Holmes

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Pure Bliss

On 29th November 2016 I posted this about the ebook version:
" As usual Eli didn't disappoint and the story was riveting. It gave me hope and tears in equal measure and in between it gave me humour and compassion. I had trouble putting it down because I was so invested in Josh and Mark and the hope that there would be a happy end. It isn't too much of a spoiler to admit there was *what was I expecting from Eli? There's always happy endings!* I highly recommend this story to you if you like Eli Easton's work or if you enjoy a truly well written story about two guys finding their happy ending after a tumultuous start."

Today I finished listening to the audio version and all I can say is it's a pity I can't give more than 5* ratings, as the story was even more moving and enjoyable to listen to Michael narrate it. If you haven't yet read this story and like listening to audio books I highly suggest you go buy this one and treat yourself to 7.5 hours of pure bliss.

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Excellent story and narration.

Beautiful story, as one would expect from Eli Easton . Not really angsty in the true sense, kind of hauntingly sad, but with a thread of hope sneaking in every now and again. I loved both of the MCS, they were perfect for each other, loved their HEA. Definitely a keeper. There is talk of suicide, so beware if this is a trigger for you (tho this is actually clear from the blurb). The narration is first class.

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One of my favourite stories

I read this story when it was first published a few years ago and was eager to listen to the audio version.

I always enjoy Eli Easton's writing and this story was no exception. From the start, my heart went out to Josh and his sorry plight. For one so young to see no point in living brought tears to my eyes and did so throughout the story. This wish to end it all had me wondering ‘will he or won’t he’ even after he met the lovely and caring Mark. I kept saying to myself, Eli wouldn’t write such a tragic ending. Even so, I worried what effect even an attempt would have on Mark, whose own life had been tragic in many ways.

The setting was wonderfully painted in words, both the beautiful fall leaves in New Hampshire and the snow-filled landscape towards the end of the story. I could picture the scenes and the emotions they stirred within Josh.

Josh and Mark’s blossoming friendship progresses at a delightful pace—perfect for them and their situation—and when they finally express their desire for each other, the days afterwards are filled with affectionate and steamy love-making.

And all through the happy times they share, I was anticipating the snow with a sense of dread and what it might mean for Josh.

“No matter what else happened from here on out, no matter if he stayed with Mark or had to leave. No matter if Josh lived till he was ninety or found his peace in the snow, he would love Mark 'til the end. He was suddenly so grateful to have experienced that.”

The final chapters of the story had me on the edge of my seat for what seemed like a long time. I was willing for things to turn out well for them. And thank goodness they have their happy ending.

This is such a beautifully written story—definitely one of my favourites. I loved the characters and everything about the story.

Michael Stellman captures the story and emotions well in his narration. His voice suits the characters and the pace of the story. My only grumble is with a few minor technical issues—there are overly long pauses after most scenes, making me wonder many times whether I had reached the end of the chapter. Plus there are the occasional words and phrases that are repeated.

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Narration 1, production 0...

Well, I'm sticking with 4 stars for this one. Michael Stellman's narration was good as per usual but the production of the audio left quite a lot to be desired. Long pauses in chapters, and the sound quality was pretty meh...lots of hissing and also on my copy, some of the words repeated, as in 'heebie jeebies'...we got 'bies' repeated, as well as other stuff. All of which I think should have been taken care of in post production.

***2016 Book Review***

4.25 stars from me. Beautifully written as per usual by Eli, and yes, there were a few sniffles, especially at a certain note left in the snow, and I can't deny being completely ticked off with Mark at one stage, but yay!! HEA....

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  • ButtonsMom2003
  • 03-05-19

Wonderful, Angsty, HEA.

This must be my week for reading angsty books as this is my second one in a row. 😊 I love a good angsty story with an HEA and this one is fantastic. While I have a couple of other audiobooks in my library performed by Michael Stellman, this is the first one I've listened to. His voice was absolutely perfect for this story.

Josh is a homeless teenager whose mother has just died. He's despondent but decides to go to New England to see the fall leaves like his mother always wanted to do. He ends up under a bridge near Mark's cabin.

Mark is a veteran of the Marine Corp where he served in Afghanistan. He's always felt like an outsider in his family; he's not the macho guy his brothers are and his time in the Corp didn't change that. He's finally come to terms with being gay but there's no way he can admit that to his family.

This story grabbed me from the beginning and broke my heart. Fortunately, it has an HEA but let me tell you, getting there was not easy. This is probably the most painful story I've ever listened to and at the same time one of the most beautiful.

Mark takes Josh under his wing, hiring him to help him paint a house he needs to get finished. The two grow closer together and become lovers. Josh has a very sensitive soul and he begins to feel close to the old woman whose house they are painting.

The book carries a warning for suicidal thoughts. Sometimes I think warnings are over done for books but I think it was appropriate for this one. If you've ever felt depression, and wondered if life is really worth hanging around, be forewarned that this story may be too intense for you.

A copy of this audio book was provided to me at no cost but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the author.

***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kelly McGee
  • 21-05-19

my favorite eli easton audio

When I first read this book, it totally blew me away. Those characters just burrowed deep in my heart and didn't let go. I have listened to this audiobook several times now, and it is just as good each time.

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  • pop_fan2005
  • 17-05-19

It Was Cute..

Not the absolute best but is a good listen if you're looking for something light and easy.

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  • BrattyOz
  • 16-05-19

A lovely story

I have yet to get a book by this author that I didn’t enjoy. I love her writing style. They give me the warm fuzzies.

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  • Amanda L.
  • 16-05-19

Heartfelt romance between two lost individuals

Falling Down is quite a heartfelt romance between two lost individuals, pretty low in drama except for some sensitive thoughts. I love the style of the narrator, which sounds pretty mellow throughout, which really suit the tone of the story.

Josh is a homeless young guy. Just turned 18 with no one and nowhere to go. He had a very close relationship with his mum and thus decided to head to Hampshire, the place she long to go, but didn't manage to. Josh is a very pessimist guy, understandably due to his childhood situation.

We usually see homeless people around, they seems so inconsequential, like their are just the background among the busy metropolitan. But the author really makes me see homeless people in a new light.

Mark is in his mid twenties, just finished 4 years as a Marine. Although is not a pleasant experience for him, the story didn't delved much into his psych. But Mark is as aimless as Josh. Still in the closet and refuse to stay close with his own family. He can't even make a concrete future plan for himself.

Mark came upon Josh when he found out Josh was a homeless kid sleeping under the bridge near his cabin. His inner kindness can't ignore Josh that obviously need a helping hand. Mark took it upon himself to invite Josh into his cabin, offering food, a job and friendship.

The romance development is slow burn, with Mark not wanting to take advantage and Josh too unfeeling and couldn't care less about the world around him. But once the trigger happened, it development quite fast into an easy companionship.

After the half way mark, things seems to mellow out, the pacing was slow down a little. But it was still quite enjoyable, with their little engagement with old Mrs Fischer and the sudden appearance of Mark's family. The story pick up again near the ending with Josh's reaction towards Mark's attitude.

All in all, a pretty decent and heartfelt read about a lonely guy who finally found someone to live for. I couldn't be happier for Josh.

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  • JayReads
  • 15-05-19

Hauntingly Beautiful Journey

Falling Down, by Eli Easton, delivers an emotionally draining yet stunning interpretation of how low a person can descend. The intense depth and strong characterization in the story enhance the overall experience and I sat staring at my iPhone for the longest time, lost in thought when it was over.

A powerful plot, along with Michael Stellman’s masterful, if not chilling, use of inflection, takes us on this hauntingly beautiful journey. Each character is easily identifiable, just by the spoken word, and every emotion radiates through your entire being. As you listen, Stellman submerses you into their world and as you experience their pain and struggle, it morphs into ultimate peace, acceptance and a happy-ever-after.

Unlike his brothers, Mark is not brave and is often harassed by them. His military career was his attempt to toughen up his closeted gay self. After four years and suffering the loss of fellow soldiers, he isn’t any tougher. Actually, in all honesty, he feels much weaker. Unable to bear the scrutiny of his family, Mark settles in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Suffering from PTSD, taking refuge in a somewhat secluded cabin, and working as a handyman, Mark distances himself from further anguish.

Josh is one dark and troubled young man. His life has been far from easy, but the loss of his mother ultimately extinguishes his internal flame. His plan is to peacefully release himself from the pain, and a calm settles over him. He has one more purpose in life and it is time to fulfill his mother’s dream.

The road to salvation for Mark and Josh begins on a cold October night under a bridge that Josh has chosen for the shelter it provides. Falling Down’s dual points of view enlighten us to each man’s story, as these random strangers slowly confide in each other.

A visit from Mark’s brother is the catalyst that unleashes a series of consequences neither man is willing to accept. Insecurities take a backseat as Mark and Josh fiercely defend what they have. And for a change, they fight instead of giving up. Facing an uncertain and potentially heartbreaking outcome, the pace of the story accelerates as a race to discover the outcome follows.

Falling Down is a magnificent story of self-discovery and acceptance with a sensitive depiction of some dark situations and thoughts. Side by side, Mark and Josh share their stories until the epilogue pulls their individual journeys together. It is then that this truly becomes their story giving them new purchase, focusing on future and family.

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  • Jen Valencia
  • 15-05-19

An audio masterpiece... 5+ stars!

Eli Easton is a go-to author for me, and what started my adoration for her writing was my first-ever read from her: Falling Down. When I learned that it was being released as an audiobook, I simply knew I had to add it at the very top of my must-listen-to list. As an eBook, there was a whole lot of introspection going on, and now as an audiobook, I found myself falling in love all over again with the story of eighteen-year-old Josh and twenty-four-year-old Mark, two men who know what it's like to spiral downward and hoping to find some way to get back up.

It goes without saying that the Eli Easton's story was already a winner for me. Her writing is impeccable, with a heartrending yet hopeful tale that had me in a contemplative state throughout. Michael Stellman's narration, however, did the near impossible: it elevated what I had already considered a masterpiece and made it the product of two geniuses: Easton and Stellman. I simply cannot imagine giving voice to Easton's words here other than Stellman; if you've never experienced either one, then you're sadly missing out. Five-plus stars go to Falling Down. ♥

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  • Angela S. Goodrich
  • 15-05-19

Stellman does a great job bringing Easton's angsty

FULL REVIEW TITLE=> Stellman does a great job of bringing Easton's angsty story to life

I received a free copy of this audiobook to listen to and review for Wicked Reads.

Based on the trigger warning, I cued up Falling Down knowing that it was likely going to be an emotional listen – even if the subject matter is not a personal trigger. And Eli Easton did not disappoint when it came to delivering on the emotional conflict and angst as Josh and Mark try to figure out who they are as individuals and whether a future together is possible and worth fighting for.

One of the things I appreciated most about the story is that while Easton acknowledges Mark’s PTSD, she does it as a way for Mark to be able to relate to Josh and share his own personal experiences with therapy. While this is a romance between Josh and Mark, it was Josh’s emotional trauma and suicidal thoughts which should have and did take center stage. Josh’s plight is not a pretty one. After losing his mother, coming out to his stepfather, and becoming homeless (yet again), Josh has more baggage than an 18-year-old should have. What makes this a tough read or listen is that Easton doesn’t romanticize Josh’s situation. Between Josh’s inner monologues as he reflects on his personal hygiene and finding a safe place to sleep, and Mark’s observations when he first sees Josh and when he meets him again, there’s nothing pretty about Josh’s situation. But it’s that realism that makes it easy to understand why Mark feels compelled to help the young man, even if he doesn’t fully understand it himself until much later in the story when he has his own personal epiphany. Because the blurb does a good job of setting up the story itself, I won’t go into much detail so as to leave some surprises for other listeners, but I will say that I loved how the author used the cast of characters, especially Mrs. Fisher, to show how both Mark and Josh are better people than they each think themselves to be. While Falling Down is not the first book I’ve read or listened to in which both main characters had a poor self-image, it’s one of the better at exploring why the characters feel as they do. Even better, Easton doesn’t try to write away either man’s problems simply because they fell in love. Personally, while I feel that the angst and emotional turmoil make this an excellent listen, if you are sensitive to suicidal thoughts or grief related to the death of a loved one, tread carefully because even though the author deals with the topics sensitively, Easton also portrays them in a realistic manner.

On to the narration. This is my first Michael Stellman narration and I’m going to start by saying that when I began the audiobook, I wasn’t sure how well he was going to “sell me” on both Josh and Mark’s voices. A big part of that is my fault because I initially thought Mark was older than he was – too many books recently with career military men. The other part is because the voice for Josh sounds so much younger than I’m used to hearing, even though it’s perfect for an 18-year-old, but I just couldn’t fathom how someone who could create such a young voice could also create the voice of an older and jaded former Marine. But Stellman did just that. The magic is in Stellman’s ability to craft a voice that is youthful in age yet conveys the maturity of surviving some of life’s hard knocks. He strikes the perfect balance between snarky and serious, world-weary and hopeful, and surviving versus living, bringing Easton’s characters to life far better than I would have ever done had I merely read the book. This might be my first Stellman narration, but it won’t be my last.

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  • Mari Cardenas
  • 15-05-19

Emotional and full of heart

Overall: 4.5 Stars!

Josh is all alone in the world after his mom passes away and the one thing he wants is just to let go of his loneliness and stop fighting.

Mark moves to Gainsville to start his own contracting business and to escape from having to tell his family that he's gay. Joining the Marines was also a way to do that and to make his father and brothers proud of him. He's fighting his guilt over not being able to help one of his friends while on tour and when he sees Josh, he recognizes the same numb, dead look in him and offers Josh a job, hoping to help him get over his depression.

They build a friendship as they work and live side by side, that slowly gives way into more, but Mark is not out to his family and an unfortunate event sends Josh spiraling back into depression.

I loved both Mark and Josh and wanted to cuddle them both and make it all better for them, especially Josh. He'd gone through so much at 18, more than some people go through in their whole lives, that it was no wonder he was so numb. I loved seeing him bloom with Mark's attention and help and how natural the progression from friends to lovers was. Their chemistry was sizzling and sweet and I just loved them together.

I haven't listened to other books narrated by Michael Stellman, so he's new to me and he was a delightful surprise. Perhaps there wasn't as much 'acting' as with other narrators, but his voice is nice and he delivered the right amount of emotion for this book. He made Mark and Josh relatable and made me fall for them all over again. There were some minor quality issues with the audiobook that while they weren't that much of an issue for me and didn't affect my overall enjoyment of the audiobook, but I think should be mentioned.

I had no doubt I was going to love this book, after all, Eli Easton is one of my favorite authors, and I wasn't disappointed. Ms. Easton crafted a heartwrenching tale that just pushed all the right buttons. It's angsty, but not overbearingly so, it has tridimensional characters, both principal and secondary, that you can root for and love with all their virtues and flaws and it has a heartwarming epilogue. The book is not perfect, but it was amazing. Emotional, fantastically written and full of heart, this is a book I'll most certainly read or listen to again.

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  • R Keebler
  • 11-05-19

Good narration

I thought Michael Stellman did a nice job with Mark and Josh’s voices. The tone for each man as very distinct.

Mark, an ex marine sort of hides in the woods. Not out to his family, he deliberately moved a couple of hours away from them. Not over his experiences as a marine, he still struggles on almost a daily basis.

Josh, grieving the loss of his mother, is homeless and feeling helpless. He decides to go north to see the fall leaves because his mom always wanted too. His plan is to wait for snow and just let go of life. In his mind it was the perfect solution to his pain and loneliness.

Mark finds Josh and offers him a job. They slowly become friends, then it turns into something more. When Josh’s disappointments get the better of him he makes a terrifying mistake.

This book is about two men coping with circumstances beyond their control. I think the author really brought Josh’s despair to life. Their story was full of pain and need. I liked that their relationship wasn’t hurried.

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