On the outside, Hayden is every girl’s living breathing fantasy, brooding and devastatingly gorgeous. He spends his nights losing himself in alcohol and faceless girls, but it’s all just a facade. An elaborate cover for the emotionless shell of a man he is. One who harbors too many secrets and destroys lives the way his was destroyed. It’s the reason he avoids relationships and keeps everyone at arm’s length…
Alex’s life just shattered into a million pieces, leaving her with more grief than she knows what to do with and guilt so deep it’s destroyed the carefree girl she once was. Now she’s hundreds of miles from home, living with an aunt she doesn’t know, finishing senior year at a college she’s never been to, and trying desperately to get through a single day without breaking down. She’s never felt more alone in her life…
The trouble with Hayden is who he wants to be and who he is are in constant flux. And though he’d die before letting Alex learn the truth about him, he can’t be sure he’s strong enough to let her in…or push her away. She’s the one person who just might see the real him.
I never thought that would happen for me. I always thought I deserved what no one else wanted.
When I finished this book, I had to go back and make sure that I read it right because I couldn’t believe this amazing story was a debut novel. Wow. Just wow. If you’re looking for an incredibly emotional and angsty NA book with endearingly broken characters, a heartbreaking and heart-melting love story, and fantastic writing…You. Need. To. Read. This. Book. You will be hooked from the epilogue alone.
Hayden is the ultimate bad boy. He has the looks and the attitude that attracts women to him like no other. But beneath the surface of the womanizing, brooding and cocky playboy, is a dark secret and a past that plagues his every thought and makes him keep everyone at arms length. He’s not looking for a relationship or anything lasting. Just alcohol and countless of faceless girls that he can lose himself in for a few moments to drown out the memories.
If I learned one thing from my messed up life, it was that you didn’t let people in, and you didn’t let your emotions out. You couldn’t. I wondered if I even had any. Emotions that is. Because if you asked me, life had hardened me beyond repair.
But then she moves in down the hall. A girl who cries quietly every day outside. A girl he has no business paying attention to. Alex.
But just like Hayden, Alex is not what she seems to be beneath the surface. She’s running. Running from a devastating event that forever changed the course of her life. She’s running for the memories and the constant reminders of her pain.
How ironic that the one person that manages to drown out the memories for her is the brooding and mysterious Hayden.
But as much as Alex is determined to get to know Hayden, Hayden is just as determined to keep her at arm’s length.
I hated myself in that moment for not being able to control that part of me. The fucked-up part that kept people at a distance. It was a defense mechanism. My very own alarm system that kicked in when things got too uncomfortable, or in this case, too close to being normal.
The relationship between them is a very slow burn. But it’s also perfectly written, in my opinion, as it gives you the time to truly get invested in both the MCs AND their relationship. It gives you the time to really understand them. It gives you the time to really fall for them.
With each details of Hayden’s past coming to light, your heart just breaks for him all the more. As hard as he tries to stay away from Alex, his fight is already lost the second he lays eyes on her. But don’t get me wrong, this was no insta-love…or insta-anything. Their road to being together is filled with angst filled bumps that will tear at every heart string you have.
I don’t know what this is. This thing between us. But I really need it.
Even at times when Hayden truly fucks up and you want to throttle him for his decisions, you still can’t help but love him.
I will do whatever it takes to make you forget. I’ll say whatever you need me to say. Go wherever you need me to go. And I’ll be whoever you need me to be.
This is definitely more PG13, so don’t expect a lot of steam here. Now typically I am NOT a reader that reads PG13 anything, but the story here just captivated me. The little steam that there was was satisfying while still leaving you wanting more…but in a good way.
He kissed me like he needed me to breathe.
This is not just a NA Romance novel, it’s so much more than that. It’s about second chances, finding your inner strength, and facing your darkest demons. I was glued to my kindle until the very last page. I eagerly anticipate ANY future books by this author. J. Nathan is going straight to my auto-buy list.
MOTIVATION FOR UNTIL ALEX
When I was in my early twenties, I wrote a screenplay. I worked on it relentlessly, confident that if it just got into the right hands, it could go somewhere. Then, somehow, the fates aligned. Drew Barrymore read it! I know, dream come true, right? And wait for it…she actually liked it! Unfortunately, her production company partner, who just so happens to be Jimmy Fallon’s wife, gave me a painful dose of reality and passed on it. Ten years and plenty of rejection letters later, the screenplay remains on a flash drive in my desk drawer.
Needless to say, I lost the motivation to write. It seemed like a losing battle. Too much time and effort spent on something no one would ever see…
Then, a year and a half ago, I had one of the most vivid dreams I’d ever had. It was about a girl who moved in with her aunt after suffering a horrific tragedy. She befriended a standoffish neighbor, who for some reason put her at ease, and they grew close—until others threatened their friendship. That’s when he intentionally hurt her to keep her safe. But, as hard as he tried to stay away, there was an undeniable connection between them, one that could not be ignored. From there, a slow, yet well-deserved romance ensued.
Upon waking up from that dream, I immediately wrote down everything I could remember (while still in bed). I ended up with three pages of sloppy handwritten notes. Throughout the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about those two broken souls and their story, so I added three more pages of notes. If you check out my website under About Self Publishing, you can see them.
Those sloppy notes served as the perfect outline for my first novel. After a year and a half—and many tweaks later—Until Alex was completed. My husband forced me to do something with it so it didn’t end up like my screenplay tucked away in some drawer. Thank goodness for self-publishing because I would have never been able to endure another set of rejection letters!
Tweaks I made to Until Alex worth noting:
Hayden: His original name was Aiden, but having two main characters with a name starting with A, especially when Alex’s name could be a guy’s name, seemed like it could get confusing.
The Title: The not-so-original, original title was Aiden and Alex. I know, I know. Then I got creative and changed it to Alex and Hayden. Yup. I’m very clever. I came up with Until Alex right before I started sending out ARC’s.
The competition: Alex originally tried out for the musical Legally Blonde instead of a singing competition. But it ruined the timeline of the story since play preparations take months, and I didn’t want to jump weeks. I hate stories that do that. I don’t want to miss time with the characters. I want to live every moment with them.
YA versus NA: Initially, this story was about seniors in high school. But because I primarily read new adult novels, I wanted to write something my friends and I would be more apt to read.
The Prologue: Thanks to my wonderful editor Stephanie Elliot, I changed the initial prologue. I only wrote the scene with Hayden’s father a couple months ago. Originally, I had the flashback of what happened in the alley as the prologue (instead of spreading it throughout the first few chapters). But Stephanie pointed out that she hated Hayden in the beginning because of the prologue. I knew I needed to find something that would make people feel compassion for him, understand his distance from others, and love him as much as I did. Hence, the new prologue, which so many readers have noted is what made them read the book. To think it almost didn’t exist…
When I read, I don’t really see a character in my mind. It’s more of the idea of them. Their qualities, flaws, maybe their eyes. But usually they’re “faceless.” So trying to cast my characters is really tough.
I love your casting on Goodreads for the leads! Those models definitely fit what I was going for. I particularly like the Hayden with the words “I would’ve given anything…” on it. My fave! Sooo Hayden!
I used to watch E! News religiously. But being a mom to a four year old, a high school English teacher, an avid reader, and a when-I-have-time writer, I’m totally out of the hot actors and actresses under 25 loop. But if I had to choose actors and actresses to bring my characters to life, these are some I may consider (knowing their ages are a little off).
What’s your greatest flaw?
My anger. I normally can’t control it which makes me volatile. My “friends” understand when I go quiet and need to excuse myself from a situation. They don’t know the true cause of it, where it stems from, but they respect my mood swings and my privacy. Remy’s the only one who really gets me.
What do you think others think of you?
Girls want to sleep with me, guys want to be me, and this girl who just moved into my building thinks I’m some kind of miracle worker. For the record, she’s fucking delusional.
Would you consider yourself a lucky guy?
On the outside? Yes. Different girls all the time, a friend who’d stand by me no matter what, my own apartment and truck, good looks—I’m not conceited, but when you hear it enough, you’ve got to believe it, right? But all that shit’s just superficial. If people really knew me, knew the truth about me and what I’d been through, they’d know I have shit for luck. No one, and I mean no one(except Remy of course), looks out for me but me. Anything that happens is because I make it happen. Fuck luck.
You mention you’ve been through some stuff. What in your past would you most want to forget?
All. Of. It.
Do you consider yourself a romantic guy?
(His narrowed eyes and creased forehead answer for him)
I’m sure the ladies are curious; do you have a preference, blondes, redheads, or brunettes?
For a long time, it didn’t matter. If she was a willing female, she was for me. But lately, I’m more into brunettes.
Colors say a lot about a person. Do you have a favorite?
Green. Like the color of tropical fish.
Care to elaborate?
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
One word. Jake’s.
If you could be stranded on a deserted island with one person, who would it be and why?
(He considers the question for a long time before answering)
My neighbor Alex. For some strange reason, I want to be the guy she thinks I am. In a situation where I’d normally flip the fuck out, she calms me down. It’s inexplicable, but this girl I barely know brings out the best in me. I would do whatever it took to help her survive and get her off that island.(His brows squished together) Would we have clothes? Because if not, that would make this situation a whole lot more interesting. (His dimples popped)
If someone were to write your life story, what are two things you’d want them to make clear?
I’m not this bad boy people think I am. I got the reputation because I hang with Remy. Now I can’t seem to shake it. I guess I’ve never really done anything to try because it keeps people away.
Some might say I’ve got daddy issues. Damn straight I do. I mean, how could I not? Mine screwed me up beyond repair. But I don’t blame anything I say or do on him. I make my own choices, pave my own path. Yeah, I chose my job which was a dumbass decision, but it was mine to make.
I am who I am. Love me or hate me.
I’m an avid reader of all things romance-especially those with alpha males. The more unlikable they are in the beginning, the better. Happy endings are a must. Don’t leave me with an unexpected cliffhanger or someone dying in the end. I’ll mope around and be too embarrassed to explain why. Love triangles and negative people are the bane of my existence. My family, friends, sangria, and watermelon margaritas are the light…