REVIEW: Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young
Dear Ms. Young:
Your On Dublin Street series is easily one of my favorite New Adult series being published today. I find your heroines in particular to be believable women with whom I can easily relate, which always allows me an instant connection with your work. Olivia is no exception to this trend. She’s uncertain around men, despite the fact that she knows she’s “not hideous”, so has no confidence and believes that her awkwardness around men will leave her single forever. With men she knows? Liv is outgoing, funny and comfortable. Never is this truer than when she’s around easy-going Nate Sawyer. Nate is the best friend of one of Liv’s closest friends. He’s gorgeous, flirty, funny — all things Liv knows she can never have. She and Nate spend hours watching movies (he writes reviews for a blog) and tearing them apart. They are completely comfortable around each other. Even though Liv is very attracted to Nate, she knows his lady-killer ways won’t change and that he is out of her league.
But one drunken night, Liv tells Nate that she hasn’t had sex in seven years. When he delves into the why of it, he discovers her total lack of self-confidence. When he realizes that there is a grad student who comes into the university library where she works and that she’s terrified to speak to him, he agrees to help her gain confidence. In the beginning, it’s about engaging in light flirting and showcasing herself a bit more than she had in the past. But soon, Liv wants more. She knows that Nate is very experienced, and she feels like he’s a safe harbor. He can help her become more confident sexually, so she can finally work up the nerve to speak to her grad student. Nate is deeply reluctant. He counts Liv among his very closest friends. He knows that it’s easy to get caught up in the emotional side of sex. But Liv assures him that she’ll respect the friend boundary, she won’t let her emotions get involved.
But, because this is a romance, of COURSE emotion gets involved. As the lessons continue, each character falls a little deeper. Liv promises that she won’t become emotionally entangled, but she does. Nate refuses to get caught up. He lost a love in his younger years and does not want to go through that level of heartbreak again. So after a mini-break holiday where Liv meets Nate’s parents, Nate ends things. He can tell Liv wants a relationship, and he does not. Of course, being a smart girl, Liv points out that he sleeps at her house most nights, has not dated another woman since they started up, and invited her to meet his parents — they are, in fact, already having a relationship. Will they be able to reconcile their friendship? Will Nate see that he already loves Liv? How will they move forward?
There was a lot to like about this book. Olivia is smart, but also reads to me like a young 20’s woman. She *thinks* she won’t get caught up taking sex lessons from a bad boy, but of course she does. She’s young, and definitely naive, but she knows her worth and she doesn’t put up with Nate’s commitment phobia. She ends things, cries and tries her best to move on. Nate is a dreamboat of a hero. He’s experienced, funny, makes with the dirty talk, and is a total commitment-phobe. What I liked about him, is that when he realizes his mistake, he throws himself into getting Liv back. He pursues her, and in the end, makes a fabulous Big Romantic Gesture that made me heave the big sigh. I love a hero who gives good grovel. Although this book can stand alone, there are myriad references to past couples, which may be distracting for a reader who prefers to enjoy books in order. For me, Before Jamaica Lane features a truly enjoyable, if young, couple and a really satisfying love story. Final grade: B+