The Summer Before Forever by Melissa Chambers
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Series: Before Forever #1
Published by Entangled Teen on August 22nd 2016
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Dating & Sex, Family, Football, Friendship, Love & Romance, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Sexual Abuse, Sports & Recreation, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
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Some boys break your heart. Others teach you how to heal it.
Chloe Stone’s life is a hot mess. Determined to stop being so freaking skittish, she packs up her quasi-famous best friend and heads to Florida. The goal? Complete the summer bucket list to end all bucket lists. The problem? Her hot soon-to-be stepbrother, Landon Jacobs.
Landon’s mom will throttle him if he even looks at his future stepsister the wrong way. Problem is, Chloe is everything he didn’t know he wanted, and that’s...inconvenient. Watching her tear it up on a karaoke stage, stand up to his asshole friend, and rock her first string bikini destroys his sanity.
But there’s more than their future family on the line. Landon is hiding something—something he knows will change how she feels about him—and she’s hiding something from him, too. And when the secrets come out, there’s a good chance neither will look at the other the same way again...
I’ve noticed a fad in the YA market recently. This is the third book this year that I’ve read dealing with stepsiblings falling in love. In every instance, the couple (meaning the stepsiblings) meet under interesting circumstances. In Estelle Maskame’s DIMILY trilogy, they meet after their parents have been married for three months. Emily McKay’s How Willa Got Her Groove Back made Finn the bad boy on the bike that Willa jumps on to get away from her father. Chloe Stone meets her soon-to-be stepbrother after not seeing her dad for months. What’s something they all have in common, you wonder? None of these girls meet the hunky heroes until they are sixteen going on seventeen! Each makes for an interesting journey, but I think The Summer Before Forever by Melissa Chambers is fighting something fierce for the spot as my favorite book that follows this trope.
Before I even discuss the romance in this book, I want to point out how much I loved Chloe and Jenna’s friendship. Jenna is introduced as a quasi-star from the get-go, and I wasn’t sure how that time in the lime light would play on the friendship that the two had. The fact that her fame didn’t effect the friendship that they had made it all the better! Don’t get me wrong, Jenna loved the attention of her devoted fans, but she would’ve given it all up for Chloe. Their bond was tight. They were nothing alike—night and day, even—but still managed to make things work between them.
Landon Jacobs…le sigh. It might be in the name (A Walk to Remember, anyone?), but he was dreamy. Football fanatic and book lover—seriously, I swooned! Even though Landon had all of these things going for him, his disability took a toll on his confidence. Chambers introduced me to a learning disability that I had never heard of through Landon, dyscalculia. It effected and influenced so many of Landon’s decisions, but I liked how he didn’t want it to define him. He didn’t want it to define his relationship with Chloe, even, so I can understand why he hid it from her. It humbled him, though there was no denying how wonderful of a guy he was, and made him a great male lead.
Music played a central role in the novel, as well. I’ve been to Nashville, and while it’s not my favorite place on earth, I got that Chloe loved it. She loved the music scene—she just loved music. It solidified her relationship with Jenna and it made her different in Landon’s eyes.
Chloe was the strong and silent type. She had to find her voice to overcome a travesty that had urged her to pack her bags and run to the father that she hadn’t seen in months. Her growth built this novel. Some might not like how Jenna pushes Chloe out of her comfort zone, but I devoured it. I’m one of those people who needs a push in the right direction sometimes, whether its clenching my fists and telling myself “I’m going to do this” or getting a nudge from someone who cares. Chloe had to find herself, and sometimes we need a summer, a friend, or even a boy we shouldn’t fall in love with to help us get there.
The only reason I gave this book five stars is because I can’t give it more! The best part is that it’s the first in a series. I can’t wait to see where Chambers goes with these characters and what the next book will be about. The Summer Before Forever has a beachy feel, a humble hero, and a tight knit friendship! If that doesn’t convince you to get a copy as soon as possible, look at that cover!
“So? What’s his name?” Jenna repeats.
“I don’t remember,” I lie.
She glares at me. “Well, what has your dad told you about him?”
I hit the blinker, and we turn toward our home for the next two months. “You think my dad and I have actual conversations?”
Jenna sits up and gasps, staring out the window. “No. Freaking. Way.”
A massive stone archway with sleek, aqua letters reading Sea Glass Cove welcomes us into a resort covered in pastel beach bungalows, a crazy big golf course, and a pool that looks like it was hijacked from Atlantis.
“Why didn’t you tell me your dad was loaded?” Jenna asks.
“He’s not,” I say. “This is his fiancée’s house.”
She snickers. “Score, Mr. Stone. Your dad must be hotter than I remember.”
I make a face. “Gross, Jenna.”
“Does he have a huge penis?” She pokes me in the side.
I swerve. “You’re going to get us killed, nasty.”
Jenna stabs a finger across my face. “265, there it is.”
I turn into the driveway of a two-story baby blue house. A black Jeep sits next to a shiny red Porsche SUV in front of my Honda. All this belongs to my future stepmother. Geez. Does my dad have a huge penis?
I open the door, and the salty sea air hits my face like the smell of chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. Florida, even the humidity that’s so thick I think I might need an asthma inhaler, is my temporary escape for the summer.
I know I have to go back home to Cliff Ridge eventually, but when I do, the evil Trevor will be gone for college. As much as the next two months are going to win the award for most awkward daughter/dad summer ever, it’s better than the alternative of spending it back home looking over my shoulder.
I open the trunk and start gathering our bags.
“Cute,” Jenna says.
I glance at the house next door. “Yeah, you won’t find lavender houses in Cliff Ridge.”
“Not the house,” Jenna says out of the corner of her mouth.
“Let me get that.”
I look up to put a face with the unfamiliar male voice. Holy Zac Efron. Who in the… Oh no. I bet this is—
“Hey.” He grins at Jenna. “Which one of you is my new little sister?”
Jenna’s eyes go wide and she elbows me in the side. “Thank God not me.”
He gives her a mischievous lift of an eyebrow, and then shifts his gaze to me. “Chloe?”
This guy has got the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen and short, shaggy, dark hair that falls all around his face in that totally messy and totally doesn’t care kind of way. Standing at least six feet tall, he towers over me, but I’m used to that. A light sprinkling of freckles decorates his tanned face, whereas I look like I’ve been hiding under a UV protected rock my whole life.
I scratch my eyebrow. “Yeah. Landon, right?”
“I thought you couldn’t remember his name,” Jenna mutters.
I cut my eyes at her in warning. He offers me his hand, and I take it.
“So you’re the new sister. You’re my first.” He gives the slightest hint of a smile and lets go of my hand. We watch as he wrangles our big roller bags out of the trunk and carries them both by the handles into the house.
Jenna rests an elbow on my shoulder. “Who needs to use the rollers when you’ve got muscles like that?”
She looks at me for a reaction, but I turn to the trunk to avoid her.
“So, some kid brother you got there,” she says. “What the hell, Chlo?”
I tug the rest of the bags out of the trunk and load us both down with them. “I said he wasn’t a kid…exactly.”
Jenna points to his backside as he climbs the front porch steps. “Not a kid, exactly? That is a full-fledged man. His boy parts grew up years ago.”
I anchor a canvas bag to her right shoulder. “Don’t be gross.”
I shut the trunk, and we make our way toward the house.
Landon holds the door open for us, and we scoot past him into the foyer. It’s weird stepping into this house that I guess will be my home in a way. My dad lives here after all, but it’s not really his…at least not yet. I glance around at all the white and aqua stuff, including a pristine white couch. God, I hope I don’t spill anything on that.
“This is a beautiful house,” I say.
“My mom’s a real estate agent. She’s into decorating houses and stuff.”
I glance around. “Is my dad here?”
“They just texted. They’ll be here in just a little while. They’re getting dinner stuff.” He smiles. “I think they’re going all out for your first night.”
I suppose that warms my heart a tad. Doesn’t really make up for my dad’s virtual complete absence from my life for the past five months, but who’s keeping score.
“Where will we be sleeping?” Jenna asks with innuendo.
“Upstairs. Follow me.”
As he leads us up the stairs Jenna points at his behind again and gives a thumb’s up. I give my throat a slice in warning, and it just eggs her on.
He hauls our suitcases into a pale yellow room. Jenna tosses her bags on one of the twin beds, and I sit down on the other.
“I’ll let you settle in. Nice to meet you, Jenna…Chloe.”
“Likewise,” Jenna says as he shuts the door to our room behind him.
I glare at her.
She flops onto the bed she claimed. “What’d I do?”
“We’re going to be here two months,” I say pointedly.
“So if you hook up with him now and things go sour next week, it’s going to be a long two months.”
She sighs and sits up. “Point taken. Besides that, he’s just the first one we’ve seen. I bet there are a whole slew of them down at the beach. Let’s go.” She rips into her suitcase and comes up with a hot pink bikini.
“I want to wait for my dad to get home. You go.”
“That’s cool. I’ll wait with you.” She pulls her phone out of her pocket and flips through one of her seven or eight social media apps, I assume.
“Ah, look at my sweetie.”
“Who?” I ask. It could be anyone.
She glowers at me. “Mason.”
I nod. Of course. They hooked up the same night I had my fiasco with Trevor. Jenna never clarifies what she means by hooked up. I’m guessing it’s somewhere between a peck on the cheek and full-on sex.
I hang clothes in one of the two closets, and then pull out the bag with my shower stuff. As I go to set my shampoo down on the corner of the tub, I notice a bottle of men’s body wash. I realize that the door I assumed was to a linen closet is actually too big to be a closet door. I creep toward it and give it a little shove. It leads to another bedroom. A guy’s bedroom.
Gray, t-shirt material sheets pool on the unmade bed. A football poster decorates one wall, while another poster of Kate Upton in a bikini hangs on another. At least sixty or seventy hardbacks line the shelves of a bookcase. I check the door, and then take a few steps closer to read the titles—biographies, many of world leaders or prominent figures in history. I spot one sitting on his desk with a bookmark peeping out of it. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
He’s redeemed for the Kate Upton poster.
A classic tennis racket in a wooden case sits on a shelf above his bed. A toddler-sized jersey hangs in a frame on one wall next to a shelf housing a single trophy. I come closer and read the plaque. The Mean Green Gorillas, Team Participant. I can’t help but giggle.
“I don’t come in your room and laugh at your stuff.”
I jump a mile and spin around.
Landon lounges against the doorframe.
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