Monday, July 18, 2011

Before Ever After; Samantha Sotto

Publisher: Crown (August 2, 2011)
Language: English


Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max; same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose; he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. HerMax. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem; how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down; if it is reallyMax and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

My Review

I could never imagine the desperate longing and painful ache that is left behind after losing a husband. Shelley the MC has lost her soul mate, the man she thought would be at her side always, Max. It wasn't even long enough for the honeymoon phase to sizzle out. Shelley tried to pick up the pieces after her loss but 3 short years later, she found herself opening her front door to what looked like her dead husband. Paolo was not her husband but her Husbands grandson. This is where the entire story really begins even though most events and clues to how the story will end took place hundreds of years earlier.

 The Positives.

The concept behind the book was amazing. The characters were well developed, each having their own story and leaving you feel when the book was over that you just lost a good friend. I especially loved Rose. The history that sang through-out had a magical touch. The best "flash back" had to be the monk era. Making chicken soup maybe the answer to life's questions. I could picture all the events so clearly, if you don't already know this of me I have a hard time with over descriptions. Before Ever After was just perfect. The flow of the book had a nice pace as well, I never had to break. It was a shorter read for me as well, took me just a few hours. All the evidence and history that came to play proved the plot to be believable.

The Negatives.

 I didn't care for the way Max treated Shelley, I am referring to the actual courting when they first met. Max is so condescending to Shelley, it's annoying. I enjoyed Shelley's character but she had some flaws, after all she let Max treat her so. Dex was one even after making him in to a noble character towards the end by learning his story, I didn't like. When Shelley first met him there was something written about his smile, can't remember exactly. I took that as there was something sinister about him. So the entire book I was waiting for him to be some crazy serial killer. To my disappointment, my own fault really. I should have paid more attention to the wording. I can say honestly, the ending pissed me off. Oh gosh, I was so angry after reading it....I want 100% closure on a book like this. I don't want to guess or imagine what happened, I want definite answer. Spelled out for the world to read.  Let me be fair it had a great ending, the title does read Before Ever After and the epilogue gave a little bit what might have been. This is not enough for me. 

So after a mixed review like this where do I stand on my recommendation? I say it's a worth while read. I enjoyed it...even with the flaws. The plot was so unique that alone would draw me in again. Before Ever After was Romeo and Juliet meets The Immortal Series with out all the YA Angst. Before Ever After gave you a taste of what desperation and love can drive you to do.

Find Samantha Sotto here. (her site is awesome)


Zibilee said...

I don't always need a definite ending when it comes to the books I read, but if the ending makes me mad, then I do get upset. it sounds like this book had a really interesting storyline and that although the characters were flawed, they had their merits. I might have to think about picking this one up at some point. It sounds like it has a lot going for it.

Misha said...

The premise sounds so good! Too bad that the ending turned out to be disappointing. I had this book on my TBR, but now I am not sure whether I am as interested in the book as before.

Blodeuedd said...

Nice honest review. The good and the bad. So it all depend what I look at, and I did pay attention that Max was not that great so I am unsure

Alyssa@Teens Read and Write said...

The condescending behavior would irritate me too, especially when the girl takes it. An excellent honest review. Thanks!

Missie said...

I'm not sure about this one for me, Liz. I'm a bit confused already. Plus, I need a guy that I can swoon over and Max just doesn't seem like that type. LOL

But the heartbreak of it seems pretty emotional and I am drawn to that.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Thanks for the review! I have been looking at this one!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Wonderful balanced review. I don't think it is for me as I can see myself getting ticked off at Max. I just don't think I could connect to characters like that.