It’s all fun and games
I had a simple plan for spring break.
Sun, sand, and a hot guy. Sex on the beach, with no strings attached.
A chance to get rid of this pesky virginity once and for all.
And when I met Tyler McKenna, I thought I had it made.
Until someone gets hurt
But then girls started turning up at Key West landmarks. Girls who looked like me, but with one crucial difference: They’d all been drugged and relieved of their virginity.
The virginity I still have. The virginity Ty refuses to take.
And now I've begun to wonder whether there isn't more to him than meets the eye.
Suddenly, sex on the beach doesn't sound so good any more...
This is a multi-author series made up of the following linked titles. They can be read in any order or work as stand alone stories if you prefer. (The links below will take you to my reviews)
Before You - Jenna Bennett
Between Us - Jen McLaughlin
Beyond Me - Jennifer Probst
Visit the author's websites for more information:
Before You by Jenna Bennett is part of the Sex on the Beach multi-author series, the stories are linked by three main characters who have all gone on holiday together for spring break and who are looking for a little romance to go along with their sun, sand and cocktails. The characters spend most of their time apart going off and having their own adventures but they do meet up occasionally so you'll get glimpses of all three of them in each story. The books can be read in any order and they each work fine as a stand alone story so you can choose whether you want to read one, two or all three of them.
I'm someone who hates to write negative reviews but sometimes there is just no other option and I'm afraid that is the case with Before You. It's hard to explain why without giving spoilers but to put it briefly I was annoyed by the complete and utter stupidity of the two main characters, Ty acts like a complete ass, Cassie lets him walk all over her and I didn't feel like there was even a tiny amount of chemistry between the two of them. It's bad enough when I don't respect the main characters but top that off with the instant love after they'd spoken three (yes THREE) times probably for less than an hour in total and the fact that the mystery was so obvious that I think my cat figured it out before the main characters did and you've got a book that I was seriously disappointed with. That's all I can say without spoilers so if you don't want to know more about the plot look away now - if you like spoilers or have already read the story then feel free to carry on reading for a more in depth review.
SPOILERS BEGIN HERE (look away now if you don't want to see them!):
Okay, so you've been warned and decided to carry on reading - I'll apologise in advance for the rant this is bound to turn into! Let's talk about our two main characters. First you have Cassie who if I'm honest is a bit of a wet blanket, she's utterly clueless about a lot of things and so naive that I struggled to believe that she was older than 15. I know her father is a preacher but she's supposed to be 21 and she's been living away from home attending college so you'd think she would have grown up just a tiny bit. She meets Ty and pretty much falls in love with him from first glance. He walks her back to her hotel on 3 occasions and leaves her at the door without so much as a goodbye kiss and she's already telling herself she has fallen for him. I should probably add that he told her he has a girlfriend but she is still daydreaming about kissing him - not particularly something that makes me likely to admire her character.
Then you have Ty. Now I'd figured out at their first meeting that he was an undercover cop (it later turns out he's an undercover FBI Agent but I was close enough). He is at Key West to investigate a serial rapist and he walks Cassie back to the hotel to make sure she doesn't become another victim (it's a pity not all of the girls on the Keys have a police escort home!). Over the course of the next few days they bump into each other a few times and each time he walks her back to the hotel safely but although she is with him when they discover one of the victims he never admits his involvement in the investigation. Fair enough, I can get on board with the fact that he shouldn't disclose his identity to just anyone when he's undercover so I'm not going to hold that against him.
What I couldn't understand is his actions when Cassie nearly ends up one of the rapist's victims. He goes to find her one evening to walk her home and finds her drugged out of her mind, barely able to walk and obviously not aware of her surroundings so what does he do? You'd think that a police officer (I didn't know he was FBI at that point but finding that out makes his actions seem even worse!) would immediately take her to hospital to get her checked out wouldn't you? Surely, that is the only course of action, right? I'm afraid not - Ty is obviously from a different planet from the rest of us because he takes her back to her hotel room, half undresses her and lets her sleep it off for TWELVE hours! Are you shocked yet? I would think that ANYONE (let alone a trained police officer!) would worry that she's been drugged & he has no idea what is in her system. What if she has an adverse reaction to the drugs and ends up dead? What if she was given an overdose? What makes him qualified to decide it's safe to let her sleep? She should have been admitted to the hospital IMMEDIATELY!
Now forget about the drugs for a minute and jump forward to the following morning. When she finally wakes up (dressed in just her underwear and a t-shirt) he tells her what happened and says she needs to go to the hospital straight away so they can take blood samples to check what drugs she was given & that if she doesn't hurry they'll all be out of her system (well that wouldn't be a problem if you took her to the hospital TWELVE hours ago now, would it?!). I also have to point out here that while some date rape drugs can stay in your system for up to 72 hours others - GHD for example - are gone in LESS than twelve hours. It took me less than 5 minutes and a single google search to confirm that (click here for more info)! I really hate it when authors fail to do their research.
He also tells her she needs a pelvic exam just in case she was raped even though he doesn't think she was. WHAT??? You mean to tell me that there was even the teeniest, tiniest little possibility that she was RAPED and you didn't TAKE HER TO THE HOSPITAL??? Are you fucking kidding me? He makes her dress in the clothes she'd been wearing the night before because the police will want them as evidence (no shit Sherlock and I'm sure the fact that you've contaminated them by undressing her yourself wouldn't be an issue *insert eye roll here*) and then it's off to hospital they go. They are driven by a police car because Ty finally thought to call for back up but he tries to just drop her off at the door to the hospital telling her a detective will be there soon. Again, I know he's trying to stay undercover but he hasn't called any of her friends, she's just woken up out of a drug haze and is disoriented because she has no idea what happened to her, she's terrified because she was possibly the victim of a rapist and he STILL doesn't offer to go in and hold her hand while she waits for the doctor? She has to actually ask him to stay with her. Well those sure are the actions of a wonderful hero aren't they? Are you swooning yet?
The book actually has some good messages about not accepting drinks from strangers, not leaving your drink unattended and even not getting so drunk that you aren't in full control of your actions but as far as I'm concerned that is all completely negated by the message it sends about what to do if your friend is drugged. Date rape drugs can be lethal, this quote comes directly from the NHS website: Date rape drugs are particularly dangerous when mixed with alcohol because they combine to have a very powerful anaesthetic effect. In extreme cases, it can lead to a coma or even death. If an FBI Agent just puts Cassie to bed and lets her sleep it off what do you think teenagers are going to do if it happens to their friend? They're going to do exactly the same thing. Is this really a safe message we want to be passing along to teenagers (or anyone else for that matter)?
This review is already a heck of a lot longer than I planned it to be but there are a couple of other things I have to mention so please bear with me. I think that Ty was using the "I have a girlfriend" card as a way to stop getting involved with her because he was working but that little point is never clarified. Even after he admits he was lying to her and comes clean about who he really is she doesn't bother to ask if he actually has a girlfriend or not. The final chapter is one of the most ridiculous sex scenes I've ever read about - her begging him to take her virginity was just embarrassing, both for her and for me as a reader. It's even more cringeworthy considering how close she'd come to being raped the night before (this is a 2nd rape attempt not the one already mentioned previously). Cap that with the fact that she wakes up the next morning and he's vanished without even leaving a note and I just wanted to punch Ty in the face for being a complete asshole!
For the epilogue we skip forward several months. Cassie is back at school in Chicago and hasn't seen or spoken to Ty since he took her virginity and walked away without a backward glance yet she's still pining over him and wishing he'd get in contact (it's not like she can call him - he didn't bother to give her his number). He turns up after all that time with a sheepish grin on his face and she just walks into his arms happy to see him. I'm supposed to believe in this romance? I'm supposed to accept that this asshole is a worthy hero that I should be swooning over? I shouldn't be waiting for Cassie to punch him in the face and tell him to get stuffed? I'm sorry but ROMANCE FAIL.
In case you don't believe me here are the final few sentences of the book, remember this is the FIRST time she sees him after he walked out on her over 2 months ago:
He stopped in front of me. “Hi.”
He looked a little nervous, like maybe he wasn't entirely sure of his reception.
I smiled. “Nice shirt.”
He glanced down at it, and back up at me. “Thanks.”
“Wanna inspect my body?”
“Yeah,” Ty said, and reached for me.
Yup, that's it - the end. The "Wanna inspect my body" comment makes more sense if I point out that he's wearing a t-shirt that says "FBI - Female Body Inspector" on it.
WORST. ROMANCE. EVER.
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review
Bittersweet Book Love
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.