Book Review: "Before Ever After" by Samantha Sotto

Summary from Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

I knew I wanted to read this book when I read the synopsis. It sounded so intriguing and mysterious that I had to find out what was really happening. As soon as I started reading, I knew that I had made a good choice. There is mystery, romance and a splash of magic in this book. All together it makes for one very good read.

Shelley has been recently widowed but then finds on her doorstep a man who looks just like her late husband and carries a picture of him claiming that he is his grandfather. Though in disbelief, she goes along with Paolo to get to the bottom of the mystery. Through their search, she reminisces of all the times she was with Max and the stories that he told to her and realizes the double meaning behind those stories. I really don't want to give away the overall plot of the story so hence why this review might sound a bit vague.

The book is told through many flashbacks and stories. While some readers might find it a bit confusing, I never got lost. Every passage is clearly marked, you just need to read the headings to find out who is the focus as well as when the passage takes place. It is very important to note the time frame of each passage. I will say that the epilogue seems a bit vague to me. I'm not really what it's trying to say or imply. I felt a little lost when I finished the book but only because of that little paragraphs. Perhaps someone smarter than me, can help explain?

I can't believe that this is Sotto's first novel as it is absolutely fantastic. I loved the premise of the whole book as well as all of the different stories and characters. I'm not really sure what genre this book would fall in but whatever it does, it's a must read. It's beautifully written with a blend of history, mystery, romance, suspense and magic. If any of her writings in the future are even half as good as this one, I foresee great things ahead in her future. HIGHLY recommended.

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto by Crown (2011)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with TLC Book Tours

I'm able to give away one copy of this book provided by the publisher. To enter, you must fill out the form below. This contest is open to US and Canada entrants only. Winner will be picked Monday August 29.

PLEASE use the form only to enter the contest. For any comments about the book, review, etc. please use the comments link at the bottom of the post. All information must be filled out correctly or else your entry will not count. (ie. you must use FULL name and list your mailing address). Your info will only be used for this contest and will be deleted after the contest is over.


  1. Wonderful Review! I'm so eager to read this one. Happy Monday, Deborah!

  2. Mystery + Romance + Magic sounds great!

  3. It sounds like this book has something for everyone in it!

  4. Thanks for the lovely review, Deborah!

    Hello to the lovely ladies in the comment box! :D

  5. Anonymous2:17 PM

    Isn't it fantastic when an author's first book is so amazing?! I'm thrilled to see how much you enjoyed this one.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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