Before Now Review

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*SYNOPSIS*

Park Reed is a bastard in every sense of the word. He hasn’t always been this way. But after his heart was broken by the only girl he ever loved, being heartless gets him through the day and allows him to fill his nights with the nameless girls he has no intentions of seeing again. He now lives his life following his ever-growing list of “life lessons.”

Lucy Braden is everything Park is not. She’s sweet, caring, and an all-around nice person. She tries to follow Lucy’s Rules to Live By everyday.

When Park moves in with Jessie, which happens to be the floor below Lucy, Jessie’s one stipulation: Lucy is off limits to Park. The problem with that is Lucy is determined to be a good friend to Park and see past the drinking and random girls to find the man beneath it all. The other problem: Park follows his own rules.

*This is a New Adult novel. Recommended for 17+ due to sexual situations, harsh language, and drug and alcohol use.

Before Now is a companion novel to Sometimes Never, and many of its characters are in Park’s story. However, it can be read as a stand-alone book.

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********ARC received in exchange for an honest review********

5 Stars

It takes something special to make you fall in love with a character you previously dis-liked, and Cheryl McIntyre and Before Now are proof of that. When I read Sometimes Never I was Team Mason from beginning to end and I thought Park was an ass!! But after just a few pages of Before Now I was thinking “Mason who?”

It’s one of those moments I have often. I know I should pause. I should stop, take a breath, walk away. But I can’t. All these emotions attack me at once, overwhelming any good sense I may have had. When I get like this – I can’t fucking take it.

Park Reed is gorgeous. Tall, with dark messy hair, and warm brown eyes framed by long, dark lashes. He’s also incredibly smart and talented. But he’s broken. Tortured by his past he uses Alcohol and sex to forget his demons. As the lead singer of his band he has women falling at his feet, which works perfectly for Park because when it comes to the opposite sex, his rule is “hit it and quit it”. He lives by a set of ‘Life Lessons’ which made my heart hurt for him because he thinks he needs them to keep himself from getting hurt again when in reality he’s keeping himself from getting to experience what it’s like to be truly happy and feel loved.

Life Lesson 3: Life is shitty. Fucking deal with it. You want something? Take it. Take it and fuck everything and everyone else.

Life Lesson 4: Do not – under any circumstances – fall in love.

Lucy Braden is beautiful. Heart shaped face, big gray eyes and golden hair that falls to her waste. She’s had her fair share of pain in her past but she refuses to let it define her. She’s strong, care free, giving and loving and it shows in her list of ‘Lucy’s Rules To Live By’. She believes in making people feel special, and makes it her goal to make someone smile every day. She is an old soul with a beautiful heart.

Lucy’s Rule – 4: Love whole-heartedly.

Lucy’s Rule – 7: No matter how many times you’re let down, continue believing in the goodness of others.

When Park moves in with his friend Jessie and comes face to face (or should I say water-gun to face) with Lucy who lives in the apartment above, the attraction is instant. After trying and failing to fight the chemistry, things get steamy! But Park goes in to self-destruct mode and does something which leaves them both hurting and Lucy questioning and rewriting her ‘Rules’.

Lucy’s Rule 4: Love whole-heartedly. (Unless in the presence of Park Reed – in which case, guard your heart at all costs.)

Lucy’s Rule 7: No matter how many times you’re let down, continue believing in the goodness of others. (?)

My heart really did break for Park with everything he was trying to deal with on his own. Yeah he hurt Lucy bad but he was suffering right along with her. He made some stupid choices but he paid for every one of them and was still paying for some long after they happened. But thankfully he figured some things out. He learned forgiveness of both himself, and of others who caused him pain in his past and was able to see things clearly.

Life Lesson 13: Focus on what is – not what could have been.

“I thought I was in love with Hope. All those years I really thought she was who I wanted. But that was…Hope just wasn’t The One. Lucy is – everything. She’s everything I want and everything I need. I didn’t think I’d ever find this.”

Although ‘Lucy’s Rules’ and ‘Park’s Life Lessons’ weren’t mentioned a huge amount in the book, I think they played a pretty big part and I loved the focus on them. If there was a message in this story I think it would be summed up perfectly by Park’s ‘Life Lesson 12’…

Life Lesson 12: As your life changes, change your rules accordingly. Nothing is set in stone when it comes to living.

I seriously went through the motions with this book. I was frustrated when things were keeping Lucy and Park apart, I was happy when things started looking up for them, pissed off when Park screwed up, happy again (and pretty damn hot 😉 ), scared, relieved, and then the perfect ending just made my heart swell, and in the words of Lucy, it was blissful. If you loved Sometimes Never and Blackbird you will love Before Now even more!

We merge like two flames, fast and out of control. Because sometimes that’s just how love works. We may smolder, we may blaze, we may rage without reason. But it’s always beautiful. – Lucy.

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