November 22, 2013

DOUBLE ARC REVIEW: Castle Hill: A Joss and Braden Novella & Before Jamaica Lane

Castle Hill: A Joss and Braden Novella (On Dublin Street #2.5), by Samantha Young
To Be Published December 3, 2013
Publisher: NAL (Intermix)
e-galley, provided by NetGalley
Adult Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads) Braden Carmichael never imagined he’d fall as hard and as fast as he did for Jocelyn Butler. He also could not have anticipated how difficult it would be to convince her to give in to love. But now that he has her, he’s never letting go. He’s got it all planned—the passionate proposal, the dream wedding, the sexy Hawaiian honeymoon—even the perfect family they’ll start.

After trying to flee from her painful past, Joss is finally allowing herself to embrace the future. But when things start moving faster than she anticipated, she finds herself panicking over something Braden can’t understand. After everything they’ve been through, Joss is sure that their love can survive even her worst fears. But, this time, she may push Braden too far—and risk losing everything all over again.

Castle Hill was, like, the PERFECT novella. It overlapped events in other books in the series (and, therefore, we see characters we know from those other books too), and enriched and added so much to Joss and Braden's story at the same time. It packed a powerful, emotional punch in a short package.

Castle Hill takes us from Braden's proposal through the wedding and honeymoon and into the weeks following. We've seen bits of this story in On Dublin Street, Down London Road and in the upcoming Before Jamaica Lane, and now they're all coming together to paint this tumultuous and romantic picture.

It only took me a few hours to read the entire thing, and I was completely lost in the story the entire time. The best part about Castle Hill is that it knocked Braden down from the pedestal on which I had set him. Trust me - that's a good thing. Guys that are too damn perfect are a fallacy - they don't exist, and therefore make stories seem less believable. For once, Joss isn't the one to make some bad choices. I was so mad at Braden for a good half of the story, and I LOVED THAT. It humanized him and made him come to life even more. Now - NOW - Braden really is the perfect guy. Bravo, Samantha Young.

The only problem with Castle Hill is, it left me wanting even more!! :)


Before Jamaica Lane (On Dublin Street #3), by Samantha Young
Published January 7, 2014
Publisher: NAL
e-galley, provided by NetGalley
Adult Contemporary Romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
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 broken-hearted. 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.

I think I will buy anything that Samantha Young writes. Seriously. Before Jamaica Lane is yet another homerun in the sexy, emotionally-charged On Dublin Street series. The men she writes about are complex and hot and... oh yeah. SCOTTISH. Yum. Their women are damaged, love-starved and desperately in need for someone to open them up and scoop their insides out. Before Jamaica Lane is a bit lighter than its series mates, but no less angsty and emotional.

Liv, having had to take care of her dying mother during her teenage years, missed out on the wild and craziness that goes along with being young. Now 26, she's terribly shy and inexperienced when it comes to guys. There's one guy in particular that she has her eye on, but she freezes every time she sees him. Liv decides to enlist the help of her man-whore BFF, Nate, to help educate her on the dating game. The lessons, though. go further than either of them had initially planned, and when commitment-phobe Nate finally puts the brakes on things, he becomes the personification of the saying, "you never know what you have until you lose it."

Olivia is slightly pathetic. She's painfully shy. I mean, PAINfully. It was embarrassing to even read at times. Hiding under restaurant tables, hanging with her boss to avoid the hot guy at the library - she is the queen of avoidance. But, when she's with Nate, she's totally different. Their banter is sweet and hysterical and endearing. They're super comfortable with each other. It's obvious that they're the very best of friends. But, it's also obvious that there's something else there too, ever since they first met.

Nate lost his first love to cancer, so he's determined that superficial hook-ups are the way to go from now on. The only real relationship he has with a girl is the one he has with Olivia. It's so obvious that he loves her, despite his efforts to keep her in the friend zone. But, when she propositions him. the temptation was too much. Soon, he and Liv are essentially boyfriend-girlfriend. But, when she points that out to him and confesses her true feelings, he freaks and this foreign, awful douchebag takes over. Gah - that scene between he and Liv was so emotionally-charged and sad. And incredibly frustrating.

Samantha Young has this uncanny ability to create these characters that just stay with you, you know? You have real feelings for them and you cheer for them and you want to throttle them and you cry with them. The characters are multi-dimensional and amazing on so many levels. Nate and Olivia were incredible characters, and their relationship with each other was so special.

Before Jamaica Lane is told from Olivia's POV. You know, I think this is my only complaint about Samantha Young. I love dual POVs, and most of her books are told from our female MC's POV. I love knowing what's going on in both MCs' heads. And I really would've loved to know what was going on in Nate's head during most of this book.

Although you could definitely get away with not reading Castle Hill: A Joss and Braden Novella (On Dublin Street #2.5) before reading Before Jamaica Lane, I really think it adds a lot to the backstory if you do. Events definitely do a lot of overlapping. And, there was one very important, pivotal scene in Castle Hill that we didn't get to see in its entirety. That complete scene is in Before Jamaica Lane, and I am so glad it was.

The sex is pretty hot, but there's not as much of it as there was in previous On Dublin Street series books. The story was the real star here. Make sure you block out a good chunk of time when you sit down to start Before Jamaica Lane. Because, once you do, you are not going to want to put it down.

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