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02 January 2014

Review: Before Now by Cheryl McIntyre

Title: Before Now
Author: Cheryl McIntyre
Publication Date: June 2, 2013
Publisher: Cheryl McIntyre
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Find It: GoodreadsAmazonB&N
Source: Purchased

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.

Confession - I have no idea how I found out about this book.  Another confession, I have no idea why I downloaded it.  Typically, I avoid angsty stories featuring arrogant bad boys.  Also, I normally begin with the first book in a series and this is the second.  The only thing I do remember is reading the reviews before deciding to start this one.  They were all exceptionally strong reviews, which is not typical for Amazon. Guess what? I fell in love with the characters and the book turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2013.

Park Reed's life is full of angst.  His heart was broken by a girl at the end of high school and, in an effort to deal with the pain, he anesthetizes himself with alcohol, chain smoking, and nameless sex. Every rule, every action is done to protect himself from any further pain or disappointment.  Lucy Braden embraces life, cares about her friends, and can see the good in everyone. On the day Park is moving into a new apartment with his friend Jessie, Lucy mistakenly squirts him in the face with a water gun. Not long after, Jessie makes it clear to Park that Lucy is off limits - not because he is interested in her but because she is the best friend of his girlfriend, Bree.

At this point, McIntyre had me completely hooked.  I already liked Lucy and maybe there was another side to Park?!  I kept reading and reading and would have stayed up all night to finish the book but I had to get to work early the next morning.  Park proves that he is truly damaged goods with a lot of baggage.  However, he does try to respect Jessie's rule.  Lucy is the best friend you wish you had and you understand why Bree and Jessie are protective of her.

With Park's life lessons and Lucy's Rules to Live By, readers learn more about Park and Lucy. Each chapter is told in alternating point of views.  And though readers know that there is going to be a point where everything will come together and bottom out, you can't look away from the pending train wreck.

Interestingly enough, McIntyre has this moment appear much earlier in the book than I normally expect.  This allows McIntyre to re-develop the relationship with Park and Lucy moving from the initial insta-attraction to a gradual reconnecting and growth of their feelings for one another complete with the consequences of earlier actions and decisions.  The book concludes with a special gift in the form of the epilogue.

Cheryl McIntyre scored on so many levels with this book.  I loved her characters.  She did a great job of making Park both irritating and lovable.  With Lucy, you wanted to hug her one moment and then protect her from some of her choices.  She lives life consistently with her beliefs though.  There is great chemistry between Park and Lucy and the sex scenes are hot but not over the top.  The secondary characters were all nicely developed and essential.  I was sad when the story came to the end, but excited that I could move onto the story of Chase and Annie (Long After).  I will definitely finish all of the books in this series and will keep an eye out for any future books by McIntyre.

Visit the author online at www.cherylmcintyre.com, Facebook and follow her on Twitter @cherylhmcintyre

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