Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: Before Jamaica Lane

BEFORE JAMAICA LANE
On Dublin Street #3
Samantha Young
Contemporary New Adult
352 pages
NAL/Penguin
Available January 7th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
One simple lesson in seduction between two friends can turn into so much more…

Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.

Nate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.

The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever…


MY THOUGHTS
There’s nothing that can be said about the premise of Before Jamaica Lane to make it sound anything other than exceedingly familiar, the friend-aiding-another-friend-in-sexual-exploration trope one that’s been done again and again, but while this story certainly doesn’t sound different to us, when we crack the spine we find the differences present themselves in how Olivia and Nate’s story makes us feel. We know from the onset that this friendship is going to go down in flames, but Ms. Young so excels at writing characters who forcibly yank us into their lives that we discover in ourselves previously unknown masochistic tendencies; ones that have us devouring page after page just to feel the burn resulting from the sheer joy of their developing feelings followed by the deterioration of something beautiful.

Olivia is a woman with body issues–seeing physical flaws in the mirror no one but she can see– making her feel more realistic everyday woman and less romance heroine from the get-go. Though her insecurities often deter her from engaging in any type of flirting with the opposite sex (aside from Nate), she’s never overly whiny or self-pitying, her skewed perception of herself something she’s fully aware of and hoping to change with Nate’s help. Her relationship with Nate is something that brings a smile to our faces from the beginning, their easy banter and utter comfort with one another flowing rather seamlessly from friendship into physical intimacy, and while we of course shake our heads at her and Nate’s shared naivety in thinking their experiment won't spectacularly blow up in their faces, their moments together are still lovely, joyous and of course oh-so hot.

Nate is a player by synopsis definition, but thankfully it’s not an obnoxiously prevalent aspect of his character, and aside from one or two scenes in the beginning where Olivia is forced to bear witness to the ease with which Nate loves and leaves women, we don’t have to endure constant physical reminders of his emotional unavailability. He’s funny, charming and absolutely adorable with Olivia, and even when things between them fall apart, he never crosses an irredeemable line wherein he hurts Olivia past our capacity to forgive him for it. He causes her pain, yes, but it’s clear that she’s not the only one with a heart struggling to beat through its misery, and when he finally gathers his courage, his campaign to see her back in his arms feels heartwarmingly genuine and painfully honest.

Overall, what Before Jamaica Lane lacks in originality it makes up for in emotion and characterization, returning us to a beloved group of friends with enviable romances that make even our darkest days brighter with their telling, and we can’t help but look forward to the next couple who will no doubt break our hearts and then expertly mend them in the streets of Scotland.

Rating: 4/5
 

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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

26 comments:

  1. Wonderful review Jenny! I have heard nothing but great things about this author and series, I really need to make the time to read the first book, I just know I will love it.

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    1. I can't recommend it enough Ali, it's really fantastic:)

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  2. Oh I'm so behind with this series that I feel embarrassed. Anyhow the problem that I have with NA is that whichever book I pick and read the blurb I want to throw it out the window. I mean all the same stories and twists so I'm SO happy to hear that this one is actually much more than that. Amazing review, Jenny :)

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    1. It definitely has a similar setup as a lot of other NA books, but her characters are so well done, and I just adored Nate and Olivia:)

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  3. I'm okay with an unoriginal story as long as it's well-written and I like the characters (I mean, most of the romance genre is pretty unoriginal but I fall for the characters and so it works!). I'm still not a huge NA fan but this series sounds like it's worth a shot!

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    1. Exactly:) And I think this one is more on the adult side of the NA line, so I think you would probably really like it:) On Dublin Street is still my favorite though!

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  4. I agree she wraps us up in this characters. While the trope may be a familiar one she breaths life and originality into her characters. My review will post on Friday for this.

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    1. Yes! I can't get enough of her characters:)

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  5. I totally forgot this one was out so soon! I loved On Dublin Street and will definitely check this one out (although I didn't enjoy the second book as ODS there is still something really addictive about these books!)

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    1. I ADORED On Dublin Street, and I need to go back and read Down London Road. I skipped that and went straight to this, which I of course loved:)

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  6. I do like that they are already friends

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    1. Yes! It makes the romance all the more believable I think, I always enjoy when two characters have a history before we even get to their story.

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  7. I haven't read this series by Samantha Young yet, but I did enjoy the first book in her NA series. You're right, this doesn't sound all that original, but it seems like the emotional part of it is well-done. I have to say though, I do enjoy a good friends-turned-lovers romance and this sounds great.
    I'm glad you enjoyed this book, Jenny.
    Lovely review as always!

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    1. I'm a sucker for the friends to lovers romance too Nick. I just never tire of it as long as the characters are fleshed out and layered, and I think Samantha's always are:)

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  8. Interesting review. I read and loved On Dublin Street, but haven't had the chance to read any others. I'm not terribly surprised that this is a been there done that kind of plot premise, but it still sounds promising. Thanks for the review!

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    1. I still need to read the second book, but I loved both this one and the Until Fountain Bridge novella, so I hope you get a chance to catch up!

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  9. On Dublin Street is on my WL and so I'm glad to hear this one is good. You and I often have similar opinions on romance so it sounds like a series I should enjoy!

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    1. I really think you might like this series Candace! It's hugely character driven, and I love how there's just enough drama to ensure I'm emotionally invested without going over the top with it:)

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  10. I don't know. On one hand it seems like it is almost too much created drama... a thing I hate about NA... on the other hand, I do love how things come together. Oh I'm torn. Still, you wouldn't have gotten me to even consider this one without your review.

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    1. I know it sounds that way from the premise, but once you get into this one, you can't help but fall in love and root for the two of them. Yes, they should have known they're experiment was destined for epic failure from the beginning, but I can't say I wouldn't have made their same mistake if given the choice:)

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  11. You mean On the Dublin Street is actually a series? I've always meant to read it but never actually got around to it and now it's book 3 already. But I take it's a series of companion novels, eh? I don't mind unoriginal concepts as long as it's done properly. And oh, I noticed it sounds a bit like Persuasion, so for that alone I'll have to move this up to my TBR list. Thanks Jenny!

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    1. It is a series! But yes, more companion novels, with each book featuring a new romantic couple. It's all in the same world and the secondary characters of one book are often the main characters in the next one. Hope you get a chance to read this and Down London Road!

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  12. I still haven't read anything by this author. It does seem like this situation is overdone, especially in NA. But you really seem to like it so I'll put it on my NA to try list. Your review is very convincing. Well done!

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  13. I think I loved this even more than the last one, Down London Road. It's not any original plot but the way Samantha Young delivers the story is always addictive and manages to pull at my heart strings. I'm soooo glad we didn't have to bear much witness to Nate's ability to charm the pants (literally) off the opposite sex. I would've had to hurt him, seriously, if we did! Lovely review, Jenny. I adore this series! :)

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  14. Jenny, this is another series I have blogger friends telling me to read them. Great review! And I hope that next year I can get to these books.

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  15. I was just reading a review of FOREPLAY, which has this same type of plot line and I was thinking how common it's gotten. Then I see your review of this book and here it is again! I'm glad this version of events is executed well. I'm also glad that Nate doesn't do anything too unredeemable when he gets cold feet. I've read the first in this series, but haven't picked up any others. But I do like the way Young rights. Are the previous characters in this one or are these standalones?

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