I first met William McAlister when I was just a teenager.
He was handsome, had a beautiful wife and was on the verge of success, having just joined my father as his business partner. Mr. McAlister was full of smooth charm, but back then he was barely a blip on my radar. Just a family friend.
Fast forward ten years: I’m 25 years old and a single mom trying to make things right for her seven-year old son. I’ve made some mistakes, grappled with my demons and now I’m back in the city of Vancouver, getting a second chance at a better life.
I’ve started by working for my father’s production company as an executive assistant. My first day on the job and I already know I could have a promising career there.
That is until I see Will McAlister for the first time in a decade.
Now recently divorced and as sophisticated as always, Will has gone from being my father’s friend and business partner to something so much more.
We’re both older, for one thing, and he just oozes this worldly confidence and stark sexuality. Combined with his tall, muscular build and sharp suits, strong jaw and bedroom eyes, Will has turned into one hell of a distraction. A distraction I’m having a hard time staying away from, considering his office is right across from my desk and I work with him in such close proximity.
But it’s just a harmless crush, right?
It’s just an innocent fantasy of screwing him on his desk, right?
It can’t ever be more because he’s my father’s best friend, business partner, and my boss.
When I think about Karina Halle, I immediately think delectable anti-heroes, edgy heroines, and her stories are usually dark and twisty with a lot of angst. I never would have used sweet and adorable to describe her stories until now.
Before I Ever Met You is a different Karina Halle altogether and I am glad I got to read it this early because I really, really enjoyed it. Take my opinion with a grain of salt because I haven’t read all her her books but as someone who’s enjoyed her horror-paranormal series and her other edgier titles, Before I Met You was a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, it is still quintessentially KH but different.
Life is short. And when you find what makes your heart beat, your soul sing, then you have to hang on to it.”
Jackie is a familiar KH-type heroine: troubled, rebellious teenager who made a terrible decision and is now paying for it. Because of those mistakes, her relationship with her parents suffered and now, she’s back in their home, begging for a job and another chance to make a better life for her and her 7-year old son. Despite the guilt and the shame she’s feeling, Jackie remains resilient and it’s one of the things that made me relate with her character. Her decisions and actions made sense throughout the book.
The Mr. McAlister I remember from when I was a teenager was tall, dark and handsome, now he’s all those things magnified. Age has made him one hell of a sexy beast.”
But as much as I liked Jackie, the one character who stole my heart is Will McAllister. Will is her father’s friend and business partner, and 16 years older than Jackie. Will is also seeking a second chance in a town he left for who he thought was the love of his life. He’s back in Vancouver after the humiliating end of his marriage. Like Jackie, love is not his priority at all.
But the moment Jackie and Will meet, sparks started flying. And despite their best effort to stay away, their coming together was inevitable.
Yes, it’s “forbidden” romance in a sense that there is that 16-year age gap and he’s her boss. But it’s also more than that or should I say, it’s never really about that. I feel like Jackie and Will’s journey as characters go beyond the May-December office romance affair cliche thing. Jackie’s got a lot of emotional baggage she had to deal with and Will was the catalyst that brought those issues to the forefront.
There was nothing sordid about their coming together even though they did keep things under wraps from other people especially her parents. It never felt like the story was about just that, and I really appreciated that Karina Halle took time to develop Jackie’s character. She made me understand and sympathetic to her plight, which is very important to me.
How is that life can be so crazy,so chaotic,so scary.
And yet one kiss from you and all that goes away.”
Will’s character is the same. From the get go, he’s characterized as a mature, caring, and sweet man who is willing to risk everything for Jackie and his boy. I smiled and swooned along with Jackie and I’m pretty sure I was doing the heart-eyes emoji thing every time he does something sweet for Jackie and Ty.
Then there’s the grand gesture.
Anyone who knows me well enough would attest that it doesn’t matter if I got annoyed with the characters or that the book was really slow in the beginning as long as I get my big-ass, grand gesture at the end. And this book’s grand gesture had me like…
And then there’s that epilogue….
OMG, I can’t. I was bursting with happiness. All that gooey HEA goodness was just too cute for words.
Halle is represented by the Waxman Leavell Agency and is both self-published and published by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.
Hit her up on Instagram at @authorHalle, on Twitter at @MetalBlonde and on Facebook. You can also visit www.authorkarinahalle.com and sign up for the newsletter for news, excerpts, previews, private book signing sales and more.