Never Before by Tamara Herman

Never Before

From the "The Jagged Edge Series" series, volume 1
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A young woman must open up and face her past when she meets the man of her dreams in this melodramatic debut romance.

Twenty-two-year-old Lily Stone lives with her best friend in a smashing Toronto apartment and gets a job with the very best hipster magazine. Diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder, she often berates herself about her looks and has far more sex in her fantasies than in her bedroom. But when she meets the magazine’s handsome owner, Ryder Bishop, he falls head over heels for her. After he learns her name, he realizes that he knows her family from a past tragedy. Their elegant first date leads to deep kissing, but nothing more physical, and flashbacks reveal that Lily has a history of sexual abuse. However, a second date in Ryder’s decadent penthouse leads to pages upon pages of adverb-laden sex scenes. Lily feels safe enough to enjoy Ryder, but still dashes off in the morning for her therapy appointment. As the couple falls deeper in love, Lily opens up about her body and her past to both Ryder and her best friend, and both respond with compassion. But Ryder has yet to tell Lily his secret, which threatens to be exposed when Ryder’s estranged father is released from prison. Lily finally overhears the secret at a party, and the two lovebirds must weather to storm that follows. This story is a fun jaunt through the city’s classiest neighborhoods, with enough glitz and decadence to entertain. The melodrama that begins the novel (“Ryder gasped, clamouring for breath as if all the oxygen in his lungs had suddenly been removed”) eventually calms into a more compelling story. However, the book describes Lily’s body dysmorphia not so much by her experiences, but by clunkily repeating the disorder by name, along with long paragraphs of description. The story is more about Ryder than it is about Lily’s personal journey; she doesn’t learn to love herself so much as she’s relieved that someone so wonderful could love her. Overwritten descriptions threaten to capsize every sex scene (at one point, Ryder places Lily on his “sumptuous heathered graphite duvet”). However, the number of sex scenes is generous and, in the end, they don’t encumber the plot.

An unevenly written but often entertaining romantic story.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-51-707698-6
Page count: 306pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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