Monday, July 3, 2017

The Summer Before Forever by Melissa Chambers

Chloe Stone’s life is a hot mess. Determined to stop being so freaking skittish, she packs up her quasi-famous best friend and heads to Florida. The goal? Complete the summer bucket list to end all bucket lists. The problem? Her hot soon-to-be stepbrother, Landon Jacobs.

Landon’s mom will throttle him if he even looks at his future stepsister the wrong way. Problem is, Chloe is everything he didn’t know he wanted, and that’s… inconvenient. Watching her tear it up on a karaoke stage, stand up to his asshole friend, and rock her first string bikini destroys his sanity.

But there’s more than their future family on the line. Landon is hiding something—something he knows will change how she feels about him—and she’s hiding something from him, too. And when the secrets come out, there’s a good chance neither will look at the other the same way again…

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Book 1
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Entangled Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Melissa Chambers is a new-to-me author. I was instantly hooked from page one. The writing style was fluid, quick-paced, relevant, and, for the most part, sounded like older teenagers in action/reaction/dialogue. I was also thankful for the strong presence of parental supervision. Too many YA novels feature parentless/abandoned teens as a means to give them unfettered access to each other to propel the romance. While this is a split/blended family, as in real life, that doesn't mean the children raise themselves. So I was happy for the strong presence of family on the pages.

Chloe had something terrifying and life altering happen with a boy she had a crush on. Using the excuse to spend time with her absentee father, his new fiancée and her son, in preparation for their upcoming nuptials, Chloe runs away from her problems by getting out of town, with her BFF in tow. Chloe is level-headed, experiencing true-to-life guilt and shame, and feelings of abandonment from her introverted father.

With the bad experience haunting her, Chloe's trust in herself and the male gender has been broken, but nevertheless, she feels drawn to the protective, comforting vibe of her new soon-to-be stepbrother, Landon.

Landon has a secret of his own, one in which he doesn't want to feel any pity. He has a learning disability dealing with math in general, which affects every portion of his life. As he struggles, he wants to keep this portion of himself separate, not wishing to be pitied or helped. Landon is a solid character – smart, giving, kind, protective, and flawed to make him very real.

Together, Chloe and Landon are good role models for teens to read, making mistakes along the way, yet owning up to them and suffering any consequences without blaming others.

The side cast is a bit of an enigma, with the couple the focus. Chloe's BFF, Jenna, she could be a hard pill to swallow, but nonetheless loyal – I feel like I didn't get to know her personality, just what is on the outside in a shallow way, making her sound vapid, which I doubt she is. If you're only shown the outside package, it's hard to discover the inside worth. While the father doesn't have much scene-time, it's obvious his introverted personality is the wedge, not a lack of love. The new stepmother and mother, while not shown much, added a healthy support system.

Overall, this step-sibling romance was written well, highly entertaining, with a good moral and strong role models, featuring the aftermath of an attack as well as the very real struggle of living with a learning disability.

My only complaint, Landon's attachment issues with Chloe near the 80% mark made me uncomfortable, as it was unhealthy. This was addressed, but not quite as strongly as I wish, especially in a way for teens to absorb the difference between unhealthy obsession and a healthy friendship. This also goes for Monica as well, but she does own up to the toxicity.

I highly recommend this young adult novel to teens and those young at heart, and look forward to both more from this author and in this series.

Young adult age-range: 14+ due to darker content and sexual situations. However, I do feel there is a good moral to the story, one in which teens would benefit reading.

Melissa Chambers writes contemporary novels for young, new, and actual adults. A Nashville native, she spends her days working in the music industry and her nights tapping away at her keyboard. While she’s slightly obsessed with alt rock, she leaves the guitar playing to her husband and kid. She never misses a chance to play a tennis match, listen to an audiobook, or eat a bowl of ice cream. (Rocky road, please!) She’s a member of SCBWI and RWA including several local and online chapters thereof. She holds her B.S. in Communications from the University of Tennessee.

Connect with Melissa

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Summer Before Forever (Before Forever #1) by Melissa Chambers to read and review.

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