Before Jamaica Lane
NAL Trade / January 7, 2014 / $15.00 print, $5.99 digital
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.
Nate 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 brokenhearted. 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….
When Samantha Young’s On Dublin Street series began, it started so strong with Joss and Braden that we had to wonder if magic could strike twice. But with Cam and Jo in Down London Road, Young proved it wasn’t a fluke and they could be every bit as powerful a couple. Now with Nate and Olivia in Before Jamaica Lane, it’s clear that with a complementary heroine and hero (even if they’re total opposites), emotional triggers, a strong premise and always electric chemistry, Young's books are solidly satisfying. Nate and Olivia are a force of their own.
Olivia is one of those real girls I love to see in romance. Her hourglass figure and seven years of inadvertent celibacy have left her with a poor view of herself and badly bruised self-confidence. She doesn’t wallow, but she does have very real fears about jumping into the dating scene after feeling her formative youth passed her by while she was caring for her mother, who was battling terminal cancer. She isn’t herself with any guys, too caught up in her own head, except with Nate. He’s become her best friend, the only other single member of their tight group, and the only one she can geek out with over movies and pop culture. This has allowed her to see past the fact that he’s also the hottest guy she’s ever known and a major player. But when she gets drunk at Joss and Braden’s wedding, blurts out her lack of experience, and asks for his help, it changes everything.
“You have next to no experience, and I have too much.”
My mouth twisted with annoyance. “It’s not really a good time to brag about that shit, Nathaniel.”
He grinned at me. “I’m not bragging. I’m helping.”
“Helping me how?”
“Helping you get laid.”
My cheeks grew even hotter. “Uh… what?”
Appearing quite happy with himself, Nate leaned back against the counter, crossing one ankle over the other and his arms across his chest. “I know sex. You don’t. I’m going to teach you.”
This theme has become more popular in romance, particularly in New Adult, but Nate and Olivia’s version is still all their own. Olivia’s body image issues make sense to many women, and add a realistic depth to the trope. And Nate and Olivia’s already established friendship adds a greater complication, in a good way, to a situation that could easily get out of hand at best and become really awkward at worst. There’s a lot at stake in going down this path.
At the same time, the bond they share in both losing loved ones to cancer and an always easy camaraderie between them also leads to an incredible sexual chemistry that flares up as soon as they go there. For Nate, it means opening his eyes to something that’s been in front of him the whole time, and for Olivia it’s a real blossoming. It’s not that Nate defines her self-esteem, but when she’s able to see herself through his eyes, she comes into her sexuality inspiringly.
“Do you want to start with me or with you?”
I frowned in confusion. “Why would we start with me? I know what I want. This is about learning what you want, learning to be good at doing it to you.”
Nate immediately shook his head, a frown marring his brow. “How can you know what you want when you’ve only had sex once, Liv? You not only want to be confident you can get him off, you want to be confident in your own pleasure.” His fingers moved to the buttons on his jeans and he began to undress. Blood whooshed in my ears as I watched. “Know what it takes to get you off and then let him know. If he doesn’t want to know how to get you off, then get him off you.”
At that my eyes drifted back up to his face and I snorted, relaxing a little. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Make sure that you do. Sex is a two-way street.”
“So… me or you?”
“We’ll start with you.” He kicked his jeans off. I admired his athletic body. He was by far the best-looking guy I’d ever seen in real life and I was about to have sex with him.
“This is a little surreal,” I murmured without thinking.
“It’s about to get very real,” came his deep, seductive reply.
Even better, this is quite possibly the hottest novel in the series yet, as Nate and Olivia’s lessons graduate in intensity fast. The fact that she’s a woman with curves and fears like the rest of us and he’s a player brought to his knees are the things fantasies are made of, and there’s a definite balance of sweet and sultry in their interaction. Best of all, they can still be themselves.
“Tonight’s lesson is all about discovering what turns you on. Do you like being in the driving seat, do you like him in the driving seat, do you like absolute control, absolute submission, or give-and-take?”
I hoped I understood what he meant and he wasn’t about to reveal to me that he had a thing for St. Andrew’s crosses and floggers. Better we found out now so I could run a million miles in the opposite direction. “Uh… what do you prefer?”
“Both.” He shrugged. “Depends where the mood takes us.” He began to prowl toward me, and with my mind still on kink I backed up until I hit the wall. Nate pressed in on me, his hands reaching for the ties on my robe.
“When you say control… we’re not talking whips and chains, are we?”
He burst out laughing, shaking his head. “No, babe. Just good old-fashioned fucking.”
Of course, when it begins to be about more than just sex, as it inevitably does, they both have a lot to come to terms with. And when Nate tries to pull back, Olivia proves how far she’s come in owning her self-worth. Everything goes full circle. Along the way, we get the same fun appearances we’ve come to expect from the whole gang, and it’s interesting how the books overlap in places with events from previous stories, while filling in new details. This is a special group of characters and great romances, and Nate and Olivia add another equally epic love story to the mix.
Learn more or order a copy of Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young, out now:
Tiffany Tyer is a writer and editor who loves reading and analyzing all things romance. She also works as a vocalist, a tutor, and a non-profit ministry assistant, and she loves it that way. Her book reviews can be found at Happy Endings Reviews, a blog she co-founded.