Before & After by Nazarea Andrews
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: July 27, 2015
Format: eARC, 207 pages
How I got it: From the author
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Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Rike and Peyton fell in love in college.
A boy from the wrong side of the tracks, covered in ink and crooning in a bar is the last person a straight laced girl with a art major should fall for, but his rough edges made her jagged, alive, shaving away the coddled southern princess and revealing a soul wild and brilliant.
They fell in love, despite her family and his past and all the reasons why it wouldn't work--and with their best friends, they made a life. Everyone was supposed to live happily ever after.
They, more than anyone, knows that life doesn't go according to plan.
Rike and Peyton fell in love in college. A boy with a guitar, and a poet's heart, and a girl with freckles dusted over her nose, a perfect fucking fairy tale.
But what happens when the fairy tale doesn't fall apart--but is forgotten?
I’ve always enjoyed Nazarea’s contemporary novels, so I wasn’t at all surprised to find myself completely hooked on the characters and the story from the first few pages. I tend to avoid books where the main character is struggling with any type of memory loss. I just find it so horribly sad. The way this one was told, however, in the alternating Before and After, softened the blow. It was still emotional, but not overwhelmingly so.
I really liked both Rike and Peyton. Though, if I’m being honest, I liked Peyton more in the Before and Rike more in the After. However, I always liked them together, whether in Before or After. I enjoyed watching them get to know each other in the Before and Peyton try to get to know herself in the After. I don’t want to say much for fear of ruining this story, but I thoroughly enjoyed them together. The secondary characters were pretty incredible, too. Now, I never got as much of a feel for Lindsay as I did Scott, but somehow this foursome was just perfect. Scott I loved. He was a little bit of a jerk sometimes, but there was no doubt how much he cared about those closest to him.
Before & After was a relatively quick read. Once I got wrapped up in Rike, Peyton and the struggle they were facing, I couldn’t stop reading. It ended too soon for my liking (but only because I’m a greedy reader) but with a final sentence that packed an emotional punch. (I love perfect last lines in books.) This book was gritty and it wasn’t without some seriously emotional moments. The love scenes – which they were plenty of in the second half of the story – were sexy to the point of being downright dirty. (And you know I love a good dirty talker.) I loved how Nazarea worked in poems and songs to the story. They were beautiful touches to an already fantastic story.
There were only a couple things I struggled with in this book and, while one might be a little spoilery, I have to mention it because it’s something I feel strongly about. In the Before, there’s a moment where reformed manwhore Rike gets annoyed with Peyton and decides he needs to sleep with someone else. WHY WHY WHY?! Why do we do this? I seriously considered putting the book down at that point, regardless of how much I was enjoying it up until then because that is right at the top of my literary no fly zone. There are few things that will turn me off to a book more than the guy (or girl) screwing someone else because they can’t have/are mad at/other reasons the person they’re interested in. UGH. It seriously makes me both ragey and twitchy and that’s a bad combination. But, I am glad I soldiered through. This was the first time I saw what an amazing friend Scott was and how he really wasn’t quite as selfish as I thought from previous scenes. Rike did have to work to get me back on his side though.
The other thing I struggled with is something I’m not even sure I should mention, but I will anyhow. I started off reading this book in eARC format, but there were a large number of grammatical and spelling errors. (I know, I know, we don’t judge books by their unedited ARC and I would never base my rating on that.) I can usually force myself to look past them, but I was struggling with that here. Before I reviewed the book, I wanted to make sure they had been fixed in the final version – plus I was looking for an easier reading experience – so I bought it off Amazon and read the second half in final format. It was a smart move on my part. SO much more enjoyable and I found it even easier to get lost in the story that way.
So, despite the one moment where I wanted to throw my iPad across the room, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was easy to fall for the characters and cheer them on through the ups and downs. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good second chance story and I loved how the second chance was intertwined with the initial falling in love. I flew through this book. There might’ve even been tears. I do hope Nazarea writes more about Scott and Lindsay. I could use a good follow-up novella, at bare minimum, to see what happens with them.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.