The novella "Beyond Repair" was my first story by Charlotte Stein, and up until maybe halfway through the book, I had a lot of mixed feelings about it. The premise wasn’t entirely appealing to me — the heroine finds a sexy movie star passed out on her floor? Really? But since I’ve suspended my disbelief for dragons, vampires and shifters, fine, ok, Alice wakes up to a movie star passed out in her home. Let’s do this.
20-year-old Alice wakes up to find A-list celebrity Holden Stark has pulled a Robert Downey Jr. all over her living room floor. At first, I was frustrated that there wasn’t much of a context. She manages to drag him to the bathroom and wake him up, but never once does Alice say “Um, what the hell are you doing here? How did this happen?” or do something sensible like call an ambulance. She thinks about doing all of the normal things one would do in this situation, but she never actually does because “awkward” doesn’t even begin to describe Alice — she’s severely agoraphobic.
Alice’s agoraphobia severely affects her quality of life; she literally does not leave her house. I hesitate to call Alice disabled, but her phobia limits her physically. Alice’s fear of people ultimately prevents her from allowing professionals to care for overdosed Holden (she says she doesn’t want to draw attention to the situation because he’s a celebrity, but you know it’s because she can’t deal), putting him in danger, so Alice and I didn’t start off on the best terms.
But, despite her situation, Holden is charmed by Alice, and is happy to hole up in her home instead of dealing with the fallout of his poor decision. Alice discovers Holden is a secret nerd and they spend a few days watching movies, cuddling, flirting and slowly getting to the point where Alice feels comfortable enough to have sex. I should probably mention here that Alice is a virgin, but this isn’t really a point of discussion between the hero and heroine, which I liked.
Here’s where I had a change of heart about this book: Holden is extremely patient with Alice, and does not pressure her to do anything she doesn’t want to do. And the sex scenes were wonderful. I don’t want to spoil much, but I do want to praise the accidental rimjob in this book for being one of the best things I’ve read this year. That scene is the definition of “so good.”
Despite being a little put off by Alice’s initial reaction to finding Holding, and the fact that the premise is a bit of a silly fantasy, I loved this story. Alice and Holden’s feelings for one another felt raw and genuine. "Beyond Repair" is ultimately a touching story of one person falling in love with another for exactly who they are — flaws, weirdness and all. I really enjoyed watching Alice and Holden fall in love, and will definitely be reading more of this author’s work.