Apr 19 2013 9:30am

First Look: Samantha Young’s Down London Road (May 7, 2013)

Down London Road by Samantha YoungSamantha Young
Down London Road
NAL / May 7, 2013 / $15.00 print, $7.99 digital

It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.

But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.

Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets …even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.

We once again enter the world of Club 39, but instead of going back to Joss and Braden’s story, we get to see Jo and new bartender Cam. Samantha Young knows tension, knows the depths of the human condition—both the light and dark parts—and she knows good sex. Best of all she knows how to write it all with a sensitivity and heat that both makes the experience believable for her readers and beautiful to read. Like in her debut On Dublin Street, Young builds the tension layer by layer and you are just about bursting at the seems when Cam and Joss finally (and explosively) get together.

We start Jo’s story knowing a little about her back history but not fully understanding the depths to which her life and her self-esteem have gone. I actually found myself ill at ease with the concept of Jo dating men “who just happen to have money” in order to support her not-even-slightly-functioning alcoholic mother and 14-year-old brother, Cole. I found myself simultaneously wanting to scream at her that she was worth more than a boyfriend who would buy her a pretty dress, that she should just run away with her brother and leave her mother to her own devices, that rich men did not equal happy relationships. But like Joss in this, who originally gave Jo a quite harsh lecture—using words like glorified whore—I went along with the story because I understood why Jo had to do what she did. She feared her brother would get taken away from her, and that worse, he might get sent to live with their father, a man who Cole barely remembers but would equal a fate worse than the one they face with their mother.

Looking at her, all I could recall was the utter humiliation I’d felt at the hands of my father with his quick fists and hateful words. I lacked any self-worth because of that man.

How dare she try to do the same to Cole—try to undo all I’d done to protect him from ever having to feel that way? It was a singular kind of pain to have your parents find you worthless, find you so un-lovable that they could hurt what nature told them they should protect. I’d never wanted Cole to feel that pain…

To add insult (literally) to injury (not literally), Cam is a “judgmental, condescending fuckwit,” to quote Jo. He believes that Jo is just after Malcolm (the boyfriend she starts the first half of the book with) for his money. In a way she is, but as Jo says, she never went out with a man for his money and she always cared for the men in her life. Cam comes to realize this, although he is spectacularly good at jumping to conclusions. Luckily he is also spectacularly good at apologizing and helps Jo with her little brother.

…You and I are starting over today. I’m not some asshole who has judged you over and over again and got you wrong every single time. Trust me. Please.”

“Why?” I shook my head, completely confused by his interest. I mean, I knew that we were sexually attracted to each other, even if we wouldn’t admit it out loud, but it was something else. This was different…more intense—and I hadn’t thought anything could be more intense than the way my body came alive around Cam.

He gave a jerk of his head. “Honestly, I don’t know. All I do know is that I’ve never treated anyone the way I’ve treated you, and I’ve never met anyone who deserved it less. I like you, Jo. And whether you want to admit it or not, you need a friend.”

Cam lives below Jo and her brother and offers a safe haven for Cole after an ugly incident with their mother. This one incident fuels the bond between Cam and Jo—he’s the one confidant she’s never truly allowed herself to have and he is fully himself around her like she is with him (a fete in and of itself as Jo tends to get lost in the lives’ of her boyfriends).

Young builds the tension further with the pair as they finally break up with their significant others. The fact that the two had growing feelings for one another and were with other people is another situation where I found myself both uncomfortable and understanding of the circumstances. Once Cam and Jo get together however, the passion and intimacy are explosive to the point that they lose sight of where they are, but as we have come to know with Jo, that’s something she dearly needed to have in her life.

“Do you need me to fetch another size, or is the dress okay?”

Go away! My wide eyes met Cameron’s in the mirror and he gave me no indication of what I should do. He was still inside me, for Christ’s sake. I almost laughed at that and glanced back at the curtain. “Everything’s great. In fact…it’s a perfect fit.”

At the innuendo, Cameron collapsed against my back, his laughter muffled in my hair, his shoulders shaking with amusement. It also cause him to jostle inside me, setting off little aftershocks of lust.

“Okay…” Her voice trailed off as she wandered away from the curtain.

“Do you think they heard us?”

He gave a low back of laughter. “I don’t give a shit.”

And he meant it.

Samantha Young handles her characters with care and handles their issues both with gentleness but doesn’t shy away from the bluntness needed to heal and address these issues. Down London Road will definitely not disappoint people new to the series, nor those still following the antics of Club 39. The story builds on a cast of characters that are both familiar and new (Joss and Braden are still big features in this book and you get an update on their lives) and leaves us with characters we have grown to love as friends. It’s definitely a must-read for me as are all future Samantha Young books.

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Down London Road by Samantha Young before its May 7 release:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes and NobleBuy at iTunes


Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt. She works for Heroes and Heartbreakers and Criminal Element.

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1. Conalu
Loved On Dublin Street... Looking forward to this book!!!
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