Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto | Book Review

Plot in a Nutshell:

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.

-Summary (from Goodreads)

Thoughts in General:
The author Samantha Sotto is a Filipino that managed to get her novel published in the USA (My all time dream!). This fact alone really pushed me to buy this book and I am so beyond grateful that I did. Before Ever After is a book that really just amazed me in a way that inspired me to reach for my dreams because Ms. Sotto really created a top notch novel. A book that transported me into places that were romantic, surreal and totally captivating. The writing style and prose structure was so impeccably poetic without interrupting the reader’s imagination. I would like to show you the first page of the novel and you be the judge:
The novel is presented in a Third Person POV which shifts from present day Shelley and her journey to where Max is supposedly living to the memories she had with The Slight Detour tour group where she met Max and then the stories Max tells the tourists as they visit these places. It may sound confusing but trust me it’s not. Ms. Sotto really did a tremendous job in crafting this novel considering it is her debut. The romance was also sweet and fairy-tale like that it caught my attention. This is a novel gives you the ultimate tour in Europe while at the same time offering you life lessons that are true treasures.     
Thoughts in Details (Might Contain Spoilers):
Shelley is a loving and sentimental kind of woman. After losing her husband in an accident she is totally grief stricken and as a reader I was really sympathetic towards her. Her bravery and determination in finding out the truth about her husband’s death is really admirable which made me root for her even more.
Max is really a very funny, sweet and egg obsessed guy and I really liked his character. He is a vivid storyteller (during their visits in various places Max always impart tales of people that is connected in these locations) and a true romantic at heart which makes him the perfect lead for Shelley. He is the owner of The Slight Detourwhich is an unusual tour in Europe so he is a well-traveled man as well. The other characters didn’t stand out much but the author compensated that for the beauty and power of her words.  
It has always been a dream of mine to travel in Europe but due to my financial standing I won’t be going anywhere that isn’t far from my home. But when I read the entries describing the places Shelley and the rest of The Slight Detour visits I was blown away by the imagery Ms. Sotto provided (the old cemetery they visited gave me the creeps). The stories Max shares adds a sense of whimsy to the places they visited.
The PLOT of the novel is actually quite amazing. Looking at the book cover, you wouldn’t think of this book as somewhat of a contemporary fantasy. I thought it was some usual chick-lit but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t. It has the right amount of romance (Shelley and Max’s relationship is so sweet), adventure (Max’s tales are so exhilarating and fun to read), twists-and-turns and the humor are so well blended that I am so at awe at how Ms. Sotto managed to establish this feat!
I give it a…

2 Thumbs Up! Wow oh wow I really loved this book. I wish I could craft a story that is as well structured and totally endearing as this one!

Have you read this novel? What are your thoughts about it? Do you share the same enthusiasm I have for this book? Share your thoughts, reactions and suggestions on the comments below!

Happy Reading,


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