Published by Self-Published on 4/25/17
I first met William McAlister when I was just a teenager.
He was handsome, had a beautiful wife and was on the verge of success, having just joined my father as his business partner. Mr. McAlister was full of smooth charm, but back then he was barely a blip on my radar. Just a family friend.
Fast forward ten years: I’m 25 years old and a single mom trying to make things right for her seven-year old son. I’ve made some mistakes, grappled with my demons and now I’m back in the city of Vancouver, getting a second chance at a better life.
I’ve started by working for my father’s production company as an executive assistant. My first day on the job and I already know I could have a promising career there.
That is until I see Will McAlister for the first time in a decade.
Now recently divorced and as sophisticated as always, Will has gone from being my father’s friend and business partner to something so much more.
We’re both older, for one thing, and he just oozes this worldly confidence and stark sexuality. Combined with his tall, muscular build and sharp suits, strong jaw and bedroom eyes, Will has turned into one hell of a distraction.
A distraction I’m having a hard time staying away from, considering his office is right across from my desk and I work with him in such close proximity.
But it’s just a harmless crush, right?
It’s just an innocent fantasy of screwing him on his desk, right?
It can’t ever be more because he’s my father’s best friend, business partner, and my boss.
Before I Ever Met You by Karina Halle is a contemporary romance made for the pages, but fit for screen. With this love story, Halle takes the reader on a swoon-worth and sigh-inducing journey that’s sexy, elating, and just plain romantic.
Before is a seemingly simple romance, but it’s one that held me pretty rapt. It’s simple in the sense that it’s a calm romance, a slow-burn romance, a mature romance. As time passes (And as I get older, I guess; whatever) I find that I appreciate these love stories more for their lack of bullshit. I love angst as much as the next girl (actually, I don’t really love “angst” so much as a realistic struggle), but there comes a point when the plot is so infuriating and the characters so immature that you have to ask yourself, “Why? Just, why?” Before I Ever Met You is not that book.
Will and Jackie are two characters separated by age, but united in heartbreaking experience. This story is one that shows the joys experienced when an individual gets a second chance at love after being terribly burned before. Will brings with him baggage filled with betrayal, and Jackie brings with her a trail of fear and insecurity. The two must maneuver their feelings around their pasts that hinder them and the hurdles of the present, a complicated professional relationship that can cost them everything.
There are a few tropes at play with Before I Ever Met You, tropes that could clash in a wreck of cliché and absurdity, but they don’t. Why not? Because the characters aren’t fucking fools.
I love Will, who is a Hero with a capital H. Will is open, kind, caring, intuitive, and aggressive when he needs to be. He’s the kind of man that I think straight women and queer guys with any sense actually picture when they imagine their lives following a romance novel plot. Will is a man to cherish who will cherish you.
Jackie isn’t as charming a character as Will (c’mon, it’s his book as far as I’m concerned), but she’s a heroine you can get behind. I think you’ll empathize with and root for her. Also, you’ll definitely be jealous of her. She shows cracks, which is a good contrast to Will’s surprisingly palatable perfection.
Karina Halle has shown that she has the talent to write across varies subgenres of romance, and some of her novels are better than others. Before I Ever Met You is one of her better contemporary romances, maybe one her better novels, period, because I just love the feel of it. The story is polished and it sweeps you off your feet. It’s classy and sexy. I believe she wanted to write a novel that felt vintage, with a Cinderella feel, starring a hero cast from the mold of old Hollywood, and a heroine we could easily identify with (and envy). Well, she did.