From USA Today bestselling author Marni Mann comes BEFORE YOU,
a contemporary romance and a devastating examination of the people we meet, the life we create, and the things we lose.
It was supposed to be a typical work trip. New York to San Francisco, window seat, exit row. Maybe a mimosa.
Then, seat 14B sat down. When our eyes met, the flight became anything but routine.
I could pinpoint the moments in my life where everything changed forever.
Meeting Jared on that flight was first.
Falling in love with him was second.
Discovering the secrets he kept was third.
Putting my broken self back together and forgetting what I learned would be difficult. Forgiving Jared would be impossible.
He said, before me, nothing mattered. But after him, nothing would ever be the same.
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Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF
Goodness me, what a gripping story. This is the first novel I’ve read by Mann and I have to say that the originality of the plot is nothing less than impressive. The writing technique is an interesting one and extremely well done. Even though Before You is narrated from a dual perspective in first-person, the third-person point of view in chapter breaks never confused me. It actually felt like I was reading a book inside a book, one flowing before the other which simply added to the angst. Why then did the author choose this style? I think by doing this, her modus operandi was to keep her readers guessing. If this was the case, its effectiveness worked to a tee. So, when both met in the middle and oh boy, the wait was excruciating, the outcome literally knocked me for six. I can honestly say I had no idea what was around the corner and that for me deserves praise. The cover and title couldn’t have been more fitting either…and you’ll see why. A book buddy of mine who’s a diehard fan of this author asked me what I thought of the story and as I didn’t want to let on, all I said was the cover holds the key.
“Where did you come from, Jared ?”
The curveball thrown into the story would cause a domino effect, reaching its climax at the very end! But before getting there, the reader is taken on a poignant journey overflowing with every imaginable emotion. A vivid description of what takes place isn’t for the faint-hearted. And it was of no surprise to me that it took Billie so long to get over. But through all the post-shock and trauma she has to bear, the mysterious Jared is there for her. The big question is why he singled her out when other people had been affected. Billie has a sweet soul. In her mid-20s, her vlogger business is booming, her love for cooking is shared with the world and demand for her opinion of the best chef’s delicacies keeps her busy. But things change and all Jared wants is for her to get back on her feet. But is this the only reason for his interest in her? You will see!
“Remember, Billie … go back to your life. I promise, it’ll help.”
I’m a glutton for the age-gap romance subgenre and Jared was everything I’d hoped for and more. Debonaire, considerate and gorgeous, him holding back on Billie I found perplexing in the sense that he wanted Billie more than any another woman he’d set eyes on, but couldn’t have her. Or could he? I never thought he was deceitful, it was just a matter of him just trying to do the right thing which seemed impossible. He’d been hurting for too long and knew that when the bomb eventually dropped, the woman he wasn’t supposed to fall in love with would be devastated. Gosh, when it all came out, I was crushed! It’s all tied up in the title; however, you’ve got to work out whose life it was before. His, hers or both.
‘Billie Paige was exactly what I wanted in a woman—intelligent, independent, and gorgeous. She just wasn’t a woman I could be with.’
Now for the other story! Andrew and Honey are the perfect couple who’d had their ups and downs but always looked for a solution together. Their love was so profound, their life so beautiful, it felt as if they were sharing their most personal thoughts with me. That being said, a happening made me incredibly sad. Yeah, it’s not a bad idea to have a stash of tissues nearby ‘cause if you’re like me and love a good cry, you’ll need them.
“You never have to worry. That’s why I’m here.”
Seeing as I love being in the kitchen, the food references were a welcome reprieve, easing the feeling of hopelessness that I had most of the time. And of course, Billie and Jared’s chemistry was also a pleasant distraction.
“You were looking at me like you were about to devour me … the same way you’re staring at me right now.”
Overcoming grief, learning how to forgive and faith in love are the ingredients Mann has used to make Before You such a magnificent read. Her fluid writing is phenomenal, her characters beyond exquisite and the dialogue is perfectly realistic. This is one story I will never forget. Bravo!
Best-selling Author Marni Mann knew she was going to be a writer since middle school. While other girls her age were daydreaming about teenage pop stars, Mann was fantasizing about penning her first novel. She crafts sexy, titillating stories that weave together her love of darkness, mystery, passion, and human emotion. A New Englander at heart, she now lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and their two dogs who subsequently have been characters in her books. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop working on her next novel, she’s scouring for chocolate, sipping wine, traveling to new locations, and devouring fabulous books.
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