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13 March 2014

Review: Long After by Cheryl McIntyre

Author: Cheryl McIntyre
Publication Date: October 14, 2013
Publisher: Cheryl McIntyre
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Find It: GoodreadsAmazonB&N
Source: Purchased

For Annie Phillips, there is a right way to do things and everything has a place. College and her flawless GPA are top priority, as is planning her perfect future. Anything less than perfection is unacceptable. So when she meets Loden Guiles, she believes she has finally found her perfect happily-ever-after.

Chase Malloy is funny, loyal, and an all around nice guy. He’s also sloppy, tattooed, and undirected. All Chase wants to do is survive college, hang out with friends, and make music. Knowing his best friend’s step-sister since they were fourteen, Annie and he have always had a love-hate relationship. The last thing Chase expects is to fall for Annie, but he knows he’ll never live up to her idea of the perfect man.

On the outside, Annie and Loden’s relationship appears picture perfect. But behind closed doors, Annie quickly realizes Loden isn’t the man he pretends to be. Every time her not so well laid plans crumble, and Loden proves to be not so Mr. Right, Chase is there to pick her up and brush her off. Will she realize the perfection she’s been searching for has been in front of her all this time?

*Long After is a companion novel to Sometimes Never and Before Now. Many of the same characters appear in Chase and Annie's story. However, it can be read as a stand-alone book.

**This is a new adult novel. Due to harsh language, sexual situations, and violence, this book is recommended for 17+.

Chase and Annie - *sigh* I reviewed Before Now by Cheryl McIntyre at the beginning of January. I expected to complete the review for Long After at the same time, but I find that when I love a book it takes me forever to write up the review. I loved Before Now but Long After touched me at an even deeper level. How do I write anything that makes sense when all I want to do is re-read the book and shower it with lots of love?!

Readers are introduced to Chase and Annie in McIntyre's earlier books, and their relationship is hinted at in Before Now. Unlike many romance stories, there is no insta-love in this book. Chase and Annie have known each other for seven years. Quintessential opposites, they have had a non-romantic relationship characterized by on-going verbal sparing and snark.

Annie is bright, driven, and often a bit rigid with her compulsion to do well and be perfect. Chase is still figuring out where life is taking him but along the way, he proves himself to be a great friend. Though Annie is an intelligent young woman, she is desperate to escape what she sees as the mistakes her mother has made. When she catches the attention of Loden, attractive and goal-oriented, she begins dreaming of her perfect future. However not all is what it appears to be. Shame and fear cause Annie to hide what is happening in her relationship, but eventually Chase discovers what is happening and attempts to help as much as Annie will allow.

At times, it was hard to watch the struggles Annie must go through and the decisions she makes. Chase proves to be the caring and patient friend that Annie needs. Readers quickly learn that Chase obviously loves Annie, and as a result is willing to give her time and space she needs to recognize her feelings towards him. It is their friendship and the safety that Chase provides for Annie that helps her finally confront what is happening between her and Loden. Unfortunately, this doesn't spare the couple from also dealing with additional consequences that arise.

I loved Chase and Annie. I loved the snarky banter between the two, and how Chase dealt with Annie's insecurities and other concerns. There were so many special scenes between the two that I found myself re-reading. And as a fan of sticky notes, I liked their inclusion in several scenes. As a result, Chase is my new fictional boyfriend crush.

In Long After, McIntyre takes on the difficult issue of being in an abusive relationship. It isn't an easy topic, and she doesn't treat it lightly. For many young women, college is a time to explore various dating relationships, but even when they think they are smart enough or strong enough not to be caught in an unhealthy, controlling relationship, they may find themselves in one. McIntyre does not preach, but does handle the situation realistically. One thing I would have liked at the end of the book would have been some tips/resources similar to what Tammara Webber includes at the end of her book, Easy.  

****Spoiler if you haven't read Before Now*** On a lighter note, readers do get an opportunity to re-connect with Park and Lucy from Before Now including seeing their wedding from Chase and Annie's eyes.
I love updates on previous characters from earlier books.

My love for Cheryl McIntyre's characters and stories continue, though I wonder if I could love anyone more than Chase and Annie.

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

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