Publisher: Crown (August 2, 2011)
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.
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 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.
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)