Monday, 1 June 2015

Archive Review: Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young

The bit on the back…

Edinburgh was going to be a fresh start for Olivia Holloway. Crippled by shyness around the opposite sex, Olivia nevertheless meets gorgeous postgraduate Nate Sawyer and decides it is time to push her fears aside.

Before long, Olivia and Nate form a close friendship and she finds herself confessing her deepest secrets, and Nate, being her best friend, offers to teach her the art of flirting. As Olivia and Nate's friendship turns intense it soon blossoms into a passionate love affair.

For the first time Olivia opens her heart but what she doesn't realise is that Nate has his own fears and just when she finds herself hopelessly falling for him, Nate's past returns to haunt him.

Will Nate have the courage to confide in Olivia, or will he cut and run? And can Olivia face up to her own fears and keep him?

I have been anticipating this book for AGES. Since, infact, the lovely Samantha told us it was going to be a book. I am in love with the On Dublin Street series. Actually in love. I love Samantha’s writing style, it just pulls you in and plonks you right in the story beside the character and it’s just freakin’ awesome.

This is the third book in the On Dublin Street Series. It’s preceded by two books and two novellas, review for which you can find here, under Samantha Young. It is the story of Olivia and Nate. Both are secondary characters in the second in the series, Down London Road (main characters are Jo and Cam). Olivia is introduced to us when she moves to Edinburgh with her Scottish dad, who is Jo’s uncle, but is more like the dad she never had. Nate is Cam, Jo’s boyfriend’s, best friend, and even in Down London Road we get a flavour for just how big a player he is.

Olivia is in Edinburgh for a new start. A new start away from the loss she suffered in America, and has found herself adopted into a “makeshift tribe” – as Samantha refers to it – of friends, who are more like a family. Including the gorgeous player that is Nate Sawyer. Olivia is not confident when it comes to having anything to do with the opposite sex and so when she feels like her inexperience is holding her back she seeks out Nate’s help and he offers to tutor her in the art of all things opposite sex – flirting, kissing and more. When the “more” starts to blur the line between friendship and something more serious, denial kicks in and threatens to rip them both apart.

The story itself is set in Edinburgh, but with ties to the USA which is similar in other books in the series. I wasn’t sure at first about reading a book set in Scotland when I first read On Dublin Street, but my mind was totally changed and I love that it’s set in a place that I know. Another thing I wasn’t sure about was reading a story written by a Scottish author, and having the characters speak with a Scottish dialect, using Scottish slang. My mind was eased when I realised that Sam, although fitting in some “Scottishisms”, doesn’t have her characters talking with a Scottish dialect constantly! There’s nothing fitter than a Scottish guy, so it’s not hard to love reading about them.

Olivia is American, and in spite of this, some Scottish is wiggling its way into her personality and that comes through sometimes which is quite funny to read. The whole story is told from her point of view only, which is common with the rest of the series but you totally know how Nate is feeling, through his characterisation, the description of his actions and the words he uses. He’s a pretty sexy guy, and when it comes to instilling confidence in Liv he appears to have been born to do it. Their relationship is passionate and hot, and loving and has this deep, deep friendship that just ties them together. The story might seem like it’s a bit predictable, and to be honest I quite like that, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of predictability about the ending, it’s the middle of the story, the getting there from the beginning to the end that has you in a total tail spin as you feel everything the characters feel and your emotions are as up and down as theirs.

One thing Olivia and Nate both have in common is grief and loss. Samantha writes about loss so heart-wrenchingly beautifully and that appears to be down to her own experiences. The loss that they’ve both suffered from is different, but no less hard to come to terms with, to live with, and to have closure and live on after it. They find within one another someone who shares the same thoughts and feelings and this solidifies Olivia and Nate’s friendship and is the foundation for the wonderfully close relationship they have.
I loved this story. I read it in one day. I want to tell everyone I can about the whole series and just how great Samantha’s books are. Big, huge, massive fan, plus she’s Scottish so that makes me kind of proud!

I laughed, I cried, I want to re-read it.

Read the entire series, you won’t regret it.

Erin x

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