Group Review: Before Jamacia Lane by Samantha Young

Publisher: Berkley
Where did you get the book: Review copy from publisher
Release date: 7th January

Despite her outgoing demeanor, Olivia is painfully insecure around the opposite sex—usually, she can’t get up the nerve to approach guys she’s interested in. But moving to Edinburgh has given her a new start, and, after she develops a crush on a sexy postgrad, she decides it’s time to push past her fears and go after what she wants.

bjlNate Sawyer is a gorgeous player who never commits, but to his close friends, he’s as loyal as they come. So when Olivia turns to him with her relationship woes, he offers to instruct her in the art of flirting and to help her become more sexually confident.

The friendly education in seduction soon grows into an intense and hot romance. But then Nate’s past and commitment issues rear their ugly heads, and Olivia is left broken-hearted. When Nate realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, he will have to work harder than he ever has before to entice his best friend into falling back in love with him—or he may lose her forever…

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

Thoughts on the heroine

Lou: Olivia is a newcomer to the series after she was introduced in the last book, Down London Road. I liked Olivia from the previous book but I fell in love with her midway reading Before Jamaica Lane. Olivia may be inexperienced when it comes to relationships and sex but she was a fun heroine and I loved her banter with the gang, and with Nate. I’m a huge sucker for the friends in love trope, and Olivia’s crush on Nate was cute and shy at first but she soon shreds her inhibitions and becomes a sexpot when it comes to smexy times with Nate. I know some readers mock the virgin type heroine (the mocking annoys me just as much as those who turn their nose up at sexually experiences heroines) but I loved Olivia’s character, and though she was very inexperienced, I felt her character grew throughout the book from her experiences with Nate, and I loved that whilst she had some insecurities about her weight, she didn’t dwell on it throughout the book. Olivia’s loss of her mother still affected her in the present day and I loved how close she was to her father, Mick, and how inside of her, she was a little unsure of him moving on with another woman.

MinnChica: I was so excited to read more about Olivia. I really enjoyed getting to meet her very briefly in the last book, and was anxious to read more about her. I absolutely love friends to lovers books, especially when one of the characters is super shy. I thought Olivia was absolutely adorable. I loved her humor and insecurities and the way she dealt with it all. I thought she was a fabulous heroine to add to the list of already strong heroines within this series. I thought her friendship with Nate was so fun, so sexy, and strong before they even added the sexual aspects.

Has: I totally agree! I was also looking forward to reading Olivia’s book, and Young really solidified her character for me. I do like the quiet librarian characters who slowly open up and Olivia had a lovely charm, humour and was very relatable. I think Young has a great grasp of characters who are distinguished and well fleshed out but with real flaws and hangups. I find her characters very realistic. I also agree the friends to lovers trope was very well done and I like the slow burn as well as build-up between Olivia and Nate. I loved the deep core of easy friendship, and the banter between them was fun as well as sexy and again highlighted how real they became on the page.

Thoughts on the hero

Lou: Ahh. Nate, Nate. Nate. I really enjoyed Nate’s wicked sense of humour and he was quite rawr in the bedroom. His friendship with Olivia was strong and their banter was fun. Nate could also be distant at times which was down to a tragic loss when he was a teenager. If there is one criticism I have of this book, it’s Nate distance. I don’t feel as if I got to know him as well as the other heroes in the series. Samantha Young does 1st POV fantastically with her heroines so we know exactly what’s going on inside their heads but she also does a wonderful job of building up the hero’s development. With Nate, I just felt as if something was missing. But don’t get me wrong, he was still a great character and I loved that he wasn’t a super tall, and buff looking studd.

MinnChica: Like Olivia, I adored Nate. I thought he was so sexy, such a wonderful hero. I loved the way he was there for Olivia as a best friend, especially in the beginning before they explored more. He was so attentive to her needs emotionally, and I loved that about it. He was absolutely smitten with her, and it was obvious and so fun. I do have to agree with Lou though, it did seem as if we didn’t get the chance to know Nate as well as the other heroes in this story. I’m sure it had a lot to do with his emotional distance from Olivia, especially as his platonic feelings morphed into so much more. However, I felt like he was really kidding himself every time he told Olivia they couldn’t have more than “just sex.” It was painfully obvious how much he loved and adored her, even before they started getting naked together.

Has: I loved Nate; he was sexy, funny and best of all a geek. I loved Nate’s chemistry with Olivia and the fact they started off as friends which only had a subtle undercurrent of tension between them which really added to their romance. I also liked that even though Nate was a ladies’ man, he never came across as unlikeable or arrogant.

I do agree about Nate’s distance. I also felt there was something missing and I think it was the lack of his POV because he was so closed off and we got Olivia’s thoughts and feelings which were coloured by her own insecurities and fears. Although Young does a fantastic job in creating his character, I think out of the other heroes she has written in this series, Nate was more of an enigma and I wished we had his POV because I don’t think he was cemented as well as other heroes.

Favourite scene

Lou: I found myself smiling a lot of the time reading this book and I don’t think I have one particular scene. What I loved the most about this book was the friendship and banter the gang have with one another. They truly are the best of friends and I loved the teasing, especially Joss, who’s running commentary on turning into a softie was funny and especially sweet. I loved seeing glimpses of her and Brandon and how their relationship is still evolving and changing, and it’s for the better.

MinnChica: Oh man, the one thing I hate doing in a book I love as much as this one is picking just one scene that I love more than others. I think for me it would have to be all the little moments that stood out to me the most. The times that they would sit and watch movies together after having sex, the times they would just spend time together continuing to get to know one another. It just made their relationship that much stronger. I loved their friendship as much as their sexual chemistry.

Has: The book was full of scenes and moments which were cute, funny or sexy and it is hard to choose because I really enjoyed the whole book as a whole. But if I had to choose, I think the scenes when Nate and Olivia interact especially with their review nights, their banter, chemistry just illustrated how fun Young made the friends to lovers trope into a real delight. She captured that friendship and made it into a deeper connection.

Dislike about the book

Lou: I don’t really have a dislike about the book. Again, my only criticism would be that I felt I didn’t get to know Nate as much as the other heroes.

MinnChica: There wasn’t much I didn’t enjoy about this book. Again, I would have to agree with Lou that I would have liked to get to know Nate a bit better. Also, I wasn’t a huge fan of the way Olivia handled her school crush, especially after she and Nate had their falling out. Other than that, I thought this was an amazing book!

Has: I am with Lou, although it was pretty much a little niggle for me. I just wished we got to know him more because he was such an intriguing character and I do think Olivia’s crush kind of took attention away from him in some respects.

Any other misc. thoughts along with grade

Lou: Before Jamaica Lane was another fantastic installment with a sexy and heated romance between two best friends who don’t know how it’s going to turn out at the end. The lines did blur and I felt Nate knew the lines blurred, along with Olivia, but they were both in denial. I did enjoy how when Nate hurt her, Olivia didn’t automatically give in and she made sure that Nate really loved her and she wasn’t going to settle for second best with the ghost of his past. The romance was quite steamy, and Nate also got very domineering which made for very smexy times. All in all, I am hooked on this series and I can’t wait for Hannah and Marco’s story.

I give Before Jamaica Lane a B+

MinnChica: All in all I think Before Jamaica Lane has become my favorite in the series so far. I loved the friends to lovers plot with Olivia and Nate, especially given the closeness of their friendship. I also loved the way they broke up and got back together. Usually I hate those few moments, but in this book I thought those scenes were some of the strongest. Nate groveled like a champ, and I loved him for it. I am so excited to read more from Young, she has proven to be an incredible storyteller!
I give Before Jamaica Lane an A

Has: I think Samantha Young is just fantastic with the way she has set this series up, especially with the casts of characters who are appealing and share a wonderful dynamic. I also love that she has made them memorable with flaws that add to their characters rather than detract them and Before Jamaica Lane really cemented this series as one of my favourite contemporary romances right now. Both Olivia and Nate are brilliant leads, and their chemistry is not only endearing but also very sexy which is a great combination!

I give Before Jamaica Lane a B+

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