Book Review | “Before You” by Kathryn Freeman #ChocLitSaturdays

Posted Saturday, 21 October, 2017 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

ChocLitSaturdays Banner Created by Jorie in Canva.

Why I feature #ChocLitSaturdays (book reviews & guest author features)
and created #ChocLitSaturday (the chat via @ChocLitSaturday):

I wanted to create a bit of a niche on Jorie Loves A Story to showcase romance fiction steeped in relationships, courtships, and the breadth of marriage enveloped by characters written honestly whose lives not only endear you to them but they nestle into your heart as their story is being read!

I am always seeking relationship-based romance which strikes a chord within my mind’s eye as well as my heart! I’m a romantic optimist, and I love curling into a romance where I can be swept inside the past, as history becomes lit alive in the fullness of the narrative and I can wander amongst the supporting cast observing the principal characters fall in love and sort out if they are a proper match for each other!

I love how an Indie Publisher like ChocLitUK is such a positive alternative for those of us who do not identify ourselves as girls and women who read ‘chick-lit’. I appreciate the stories which alight in my hands from ChocLit as much as I appreciate the inspirational romances I gravitate towards because there is a certain level of depth to both outlets in romance which encourage my spirits and gives me a beautiful story to absorb! Whilst sorting out how promote my book reviews on behalf of ChocLit, I coined the phrase “ChocLitSaturdays”, which is a nod to the fact my ChocLit reviews & features debut on ‘a Saturday’ but further to the point that on the ‘weekend’ we want to dip into a world wholly ideal and romantic during our hours off from the work week!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular reviewer for ChocLitUK, where I hand select which books in either their backlist and/or current releases I would like to read next for my #ChocLitSaturdays blog feature. As of June 2016, I became a member of the ChocLit Stars Team in tandem with being on the Cover Reveal Team which I joined in May 2016. I reference the Stars as this is a lovely new reader contribution team of sending feedback to the publisher ahead of new book releases. As always, even if I’m involved with a publisher in this sort of fashion, each review is never influenced by that participation and will always be my honest impression as I read the story. Whether the author is one I have previously read or never had the pleasure to read until the book greets my shelf.

I received a complimentary copy of “Before You” from ChocLit in exchange for an honest review! I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Why I enjoy reading Kathryn Freeman’s Contemporary Roms:

I love reading this Contemporary it was edgy on the level of taking an inside look into the Pharma Industry and it was sophisticated due to the pacing and slow-building romance. It had a lot of volley between the two lead characters which is something that I love to see as they weren’t exactly the type to admit at having an insta-attraction to each other. Both were cautious for their own reasons but it was how the romance played out in a tightly controlled working environment that had me fondly think back to certain movies that held the same appeal. On a personal note I have no idea how Tessa wore all those high heels! The descriptions made me smile but knowing what they were doing to Tessa’s feet made me cringe! Oy. Oy.

Some of the best bits for me were the cheeky moments Freeman knit into the office scenes such as Jim realising his growing attraction to Tessa or how Tessa is noticing the same feelings are returned towards Jim. Freeman cheekily highlights those quasi-embarrassing moments between two co-workers trying to keep secrets from each other. The awkward long looks, the accidental bump-ins and Jim’s growing appreciation for Tessa’s shoes was too comical for words! Likewise it developed the chemistry between the two and each of them were trying to downplay their attraction. Each hoping the other had not picked up on any subtle clues. This is exactly the kind of Contemporary Rom I love to read because it keeps you on your toes! Whilst giving you so many wicked delights as a reader to live through the moments right alongside the lead characters!

-quoted from my review of Search for the Truth

As this expresses why I love reading Ms Freeman’s fiction, the reasons why I was eagerly excited to read ‘Before You’ were actually expressed already when I hosted the Cover Reveal, where I said the following:

The lovely discovery about ‘Before You’ is that it’s centred around Formula 1 racing – the reason this is wicked to me, is because it’s a full stone of a step outside of everything I know about racing culture, lifestyle and the type of cars which buzz right round a track at such speeds to make me want to hide my eyes for fear of seeing a crash! My heart always flutters when I’m thinking about the casualty side of racing as it’s a known gamechanger for those who race and those of whom are left behind in the wake of a tragedy.

I like learning about things I am not as well versed about because it takes me inside a whole new environment to explore and to become acquainted – most enticing is how the focus on the characters inside this novel are set towards finding a path towards each other, when they’ve been living independently so long they nearly forgot to think about being a ‘couple’ and what that would entail for both of them. I like how the story starts out on the presumption about ‘who they were’ before each of them met each other and how their individual histories might in turn influence the chance they have to be together.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Book Review | “Before You” by Kathryn Freeman #ChocLitSaturdaysBefore You
Subtitle: Is it a risk worth taking?
by Kathryn Freeman
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Berni Stevens
Source: Direct from Publisher

When life in the fast lane threatens to implode…

Melanie Hunt’s job working for the Delta racing team means she is constantly rubbing shoulders with Formula One superstars in glamorous locations like Monte Carlo. But she has already learned that keeping a professional distance is crucial if she doesn’t want to get hurt.

New Delta team driver Aiden Foster lives his life like he drives his cars – fast and hard. But, no matter how successful he is, it seems he always falls short of his championship-winning father’s legacy. If he could just stay focused, he could finally make that win.

Resolve begins to slip as Melanie and Aiden find themselves drawn to each other –with nowhere to hide as racing season begins. But when a troubled young boy goes missing, everything is thrown into turmoil, including Aiden’s championship dream.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on ChocLitUK

ISBN: 978-1781893937

Also by this author: Search for the Truth Cover Reveal, Before You Cover Reveal, Search for the Truth, A Second Christmas Wish Cover Reveal, A Second Christmas Wish

Published by ChocLitUK

on 10th August, 2017

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Pages: 339

Published by: ChocLitUK (@ChocLituk)

Available Formats: Paperback & E-Book

The collective works of Kathryn Freeman I’ve been keen on reading:

Search for the Truth by Kathryn FreemanA Second Christmas Wish by Kathryn FreemanBefore You by Kathryn Freeman

Ms Freeman’s ChocLit Contemporary Roms:

Before You (see also Cover Reveal w/ Notes)

A Second Christmas Wish (see also Cover Reveal w/ Notes)

Search for the Truth (see also Review)

Converse via: #Contemporary #Romance + #ChocLit

About Kathryn Freeman

Kathryn Freeman

Kathryn was born in Wallingford, England but has spent most of her life living in a village near Windsor. After studying pharmacy in Brighton she began her working life as a retail pharmacist. She quickly realised that trying to decipher doctor’s handwriting wasn’t for her and left to join the pharmaceutical industry where she spent twenty happy years working in medical communications. In 2011, backed by her family, she left the world of pharmaceutical science to begin life as a self-employed writer, juggling the two disciplines of medical writing and romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) the romance in her life is all in her head. Then again, her husband’s unstinting support of her career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

My Review of before you:

It shouldn’t surprise anyone a race car driver whose chasing after a dream of winning a championship similar to his father’s legacy is feeling the pressure of fame. Aiden struggles to find his own identity out of the reputation his father had established long before he was Aiden’s age; as the son who tries to re-walk through his father’s shoes is finding the path is riddled with obstacles. You can respect Aiden for wanting to be like his Dad, to take after a passion he had himself for racing despite the tragic ending his father experienced behind the wheel; but at some point, you wonder if Aiden will recognise if you have to keep ‘hiding’ yourself from the cameras and press – to where your facade is more real than your own self-esteemed personality, then what exactly was the point behind the pursuit?

Melanie is the press secretary for the new F1 Team Aiden has been signed to drive for – a sport I have little knowledge of but a healthy respect for the dangers the drivers and pit crews take-on each time they race! For Melanie, she’s struggling to resolve her own anguished past of having lost parents out of similarly tragic circumstances whilst feeling like Aiden is hiding more than he let’s on. Her concerns are accepted by the race engineer (Frank) she’s confided in as she would a father for a long time – giving her more thoughts to chew than she would prefer. Her job was a delicate balance of being supportive to the drivers but also for looking out for their reputations and the reputation of the company she represented.

I had a proper kick out of watching Melanie put Aiden to rights – she had a way of seeing past his bravado and genuinely taking an interest in ‘who’ he was outside the shadow he presented to the world. Their frank and earnest conversation might leave a few blushes on most girls’ but it was how she was about to cut him to the quick by acknowledging things about his personality he never felt anyone could see is what made their introductions so lovely to read! She truly unnerved him in a way he was not expecting – even moreso than his regret over his last one night stand!

His behaviour isn’t easily diluted by a bad performance on the track – if anything, he finds new ways of chastising himself for everything he does. Melanie on the other hand, for her part, tries to see the ‘man’ between the masks he wears to the world and on one level, attempts to understand what he is going through even without the details of what plagues his mind. She can tell something isn’t quite right but for all her efforts, unless Aiden starts to talk about the things which affect him on a mental level, the best she can do is be the calm harbour whilst he sorts out the storms circling in his life.

On thing I know from playing racing video games – especially the kind at arcades? Is how frequently drivers have to travel round the world! The locales alone are breath-taking as you cannot even imagine how wicked lovely the settings are for these drivers! This is one reason I like playing the games themselves as over the years, the pixels have improved to give you more of a heightened gamer experience for the settings not just for hugging the track and course! You can fill out a map by how often they criss-cross the world – similarly, Ms Freeman has delighted your wanderlust by the locales she’s brought forward in “Before You”!

Melanie and Aiden were on rocky ground – she hadn’t quite realised to what extent, as she was still relating to him partially on the superficial facade he put on for the world; but slowly she was starting to etch away at the barriers he was placing in front of her to erase the truth he couldn’t find himself willing to share. It was in a moment of self-reflection to show empathy towards his situation where you felt the most for Melanie – she felt she could relate to Aiden on this one score, of where their paths had once been similar; sharing a loss both could or should have felt mutually. Instead you saw the delicate balance Aiden was trying to maintain between truth and the lies he had manufactured to keep everyone in the dark about his past. What he kept himself diluted in thinking though is that he would never come across someone who ‘saw’ him as he were rather than as the image he personified. In this, Melanie set the bar higher than he realised was possible.

The race engineer Frank is someone you can easily warm too – he has the heart of a father and his willingness to go above and beyond his job description is what makes him a great character to rally behind! His job isn’t the easiest – he’s the voice in Aiden’s ear as he rounds the track whilst he is also the sounding board for Melanie who misses having her father to confide in. Frank filled the missing gap of fatherly consul in Melanie’s life but he gives more to the drivers he’s aiding as well – part confidence boaster and part confidante. You can find a ready shoulder to lean on in Frank – the hard part is watching Aiden recoil from his efforts, his memories of his father too strong to overtake his heart’s willingness to open any door towards comfort in the present. He needs to find a way to let people get close to him but you can understand where Aiden is coming from (blessedly through how Ms Freeman is relating his back-story) which is what causes the most friction in his racing schedule. If your mind is not aligned with your heart – no matter where your passion in life lives – your not going to be putting your best work on the line. Your simply going to come off constantly muddled and unable to find the right focus to succeed because you need to address the things which weigh on your thoughts.

Melanie was blindsided a bit by how her heart reacted to certain men; moreso than that, she never felt she was a woman who could be easily swooned into believing what she felt was justified if a bloke felt the same for her in return. In this particular case, what was confusing her is why her hormones and emotional state were blending into each other – where she was feeling less in control and more willing to drop her boundaries. She was in the middle of sorting out where she stood on the subject of love and relationships when she was enticed by a certain someone to ‘let loose and live’. The irony though is how she woke up the next morning – of how fast regret and self-recrimination can takeover the joys of the previous hours because they were done in the haste of ‘the moment’ through clouded judgment.

As the complications in Aiden’s life intensify by the unexpected arrival of his brother, it set into motion an interesting bout of arguments between him and Melanie. Specifically, through her side of the talks, you couldn’t help but agree with her based on what she understood the circumstances. He was being arrogant and selfish – seeing his needs had to come above any other responsibilities. In some ways, you could see this happening because he took a selfish approach to relationships; he wanted to be fully invested in a woman but he wasn’t always willing to give as much as he took. The ways in which communication is broken down is aptly explored but also, a greater truth about how if you want to be in an emotionally connected relationship, you have to trust the partner your willing to approach about a long term commitment. You can’t just flirt in and out of their days thinking it’s enough to be present ‘in the moment’ of ecstasy and not think you have to build something behind it to keep it grounded.

There were times where even I felt like Aiden was a self-absorbed git – as Melanie was thinking he was herself! I mean, truly! Here he has a woman whose accepted his faults, given him more chances than most to have a healthy relationship and just because she gives him a dose of truth every now & then which is more than he can swallow – what does he do? He retracts his kind exterior for a snark of an attack which has no bearing on anything except to get a rise out of Melanie and re-assert himself as someone who doesn’t want anyone evading his private life. Yet, the maddening thing of it is – if you don’t find yourself willing to ‘trust’ the person you want to be in a relationship with than what are you doing hankering after them when you’ve both laid your cards on the table? If you know where you stand and where the other person stands – if it’s not a match, either walk away or admit your wrong. Aiden flips his attitude to suit him and the worst bit is how Melanie keeps falling for him whenever he’s feeling ‘charming’ but as soon as she gets into a the snare of his charms, it’s almost certain he’s going to disappoint her again. I’m not sure who was disappointed more – me or her!

On the Contemporary Rom styling of Ms Freeman:

Freeman holds no punches – she gets right to the heart of the matter of her stories soon after you begin them, where you immediately know where you stand with her characters and they with you! Generally speaking, the personal growth her characters take-on throughout one of her Contemporary Roms is what makes her a writer to watch – as she has a way of surprising you! Especially when she’s writing about a hero who has a few broken feathers in his wings and is not yet ready to shine as a bloke to trust – she finds a way to keep his journey humbled and honest. Such as I would attest would be the case with Aiden – even within the first chapters of ‘Before You’ as this is her trademark style.

Without understanding too much about the world of racing, I was a bit surprised most of what was being disclosed were things I already understood? I think I must have learnt more through osmosis than I realised! I have watched films (as much as I have played the video games) about racing – but I never thought it would be enough of a foundation to understand the proponents of what happens before, during and after a race! I was very enthused by the research and knowledge Ms Freeman knit into the background of ‘Before You’ as it gives a lovely layer of insight into the framework of how racing is very much a business and is run effectively with key people in roles of influence which keep the drivers racing a fair race on the tracks. There is a lot that goes into the health of the driver – from the car to the man, whilst the Admin bits are taxing enough on their own, from freight of the equipment to the bookings of the flights and the Press Corp responsibilities! Somehow Ms Freeman has captured this entire world in such a way, you see it from the insight – out and never feel as if you couldn’t grasp the momentum of the driver’s perspective without knowing more about the race world itself because of how much she knitted into the background!

A lot of what is written into this story is actually parlaying a bit about what I recently read and then blogged about on my review of “Be Fierce” – about the situations women find themselves in at work and how sometimes work-related relationships are not the healthiest if they are not mutually respected. In this instance, Melanie is openly talking about the ways in which she deals with the ‘boys club’ on the job – of where it’s all fun and games, mutually accepted and how she has worked it out in her favour. There is a line in the sand being examined though – about how to keep the boundaries in place and when to relax them – in matters of love, relationships and non-emotional attachments to sexual encounters. It parlays a bit about what “Be Fierce” is hinting at towards liberating women from how they feel pressured to be someone their not at work – including how they present themselves should be accepted rather than questioned but the key differences are when mutual consent is given, it’s not the same as unwanted attentions or propositions. In this, Ms Freeman is exploring how you can find your heart faltering between yielding to desire and learning when and how to fall in love with your co-workers.

This is another example of how ChocLit authors are keeping their Roms realistically grounded in today’s Contemporary world – exploring all the realities their characters can be dealing with across industries and fields of work; whilst owning to the fact, relationships in the 21st Century are especially complicated if you factor in all the variables which can entreat into the relationships. Blessedly, one thing I appreciate most is how both sides are examined equally – both the men and the women have flaws and work out the growth their characters need most through self-examination or turn to those they trust to sort out their headspace. Overall, what sets the stories apart is the healthier approach of keeping real to the emotions and the decisions which go into the relationships themselves. It’s never just ‘about the sex’ without focusing on the ‘relationship’ – or if a relationship has enough of a foundation to last.

Content Note: Vulgarity

Although this novel was tamer than her previous Contemporary Rom in regards to language, as she chose to only use one particular word vs opting to use more – there is still a healthy splattering of stronger words throughout the context. The irony for me was finding that in some of those instances it seemed the characters would have preferred a different way of expressing themselves – it’s hard to explain, but there were moments where I felt they were ‘acting against type’ if that makes sense as that is a parallel analogy from the world of film? I’m still trying to sort out why Contemporary Rom & Fiction is so plagued by strong language when the merits of the stories do not call for it and can stand on their own.

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

This book review is courtesy of:

ChocLitUK Reviewer Badge by ChocLitUK.Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

In case you’ve missed my ChocLit readings:

Please follow the threads through #ChocLitSaturdays!

And, visit my ChocLit Next Reads List on Riffle (recently upated!)

to see which stories I fancy to devour next!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

My ChocLit reads of October:

Reading ChocLit is a cuppa comfort & joy. You get to ‘return home’ to the stories penned in the beauty of the Romantic genres you love to devour with characters who inspire you & give you such a lift of joy to meet.

I wanted to select a few Contemporaries to explore as well as select a Suspenseful story to kick-off my annual focus on Psychological Suspense whilst digging back into a series I began earlier which I loved reading!

Learning to Love by Sheryl Browne (see also Review)

Emma There’s No Turning Back (Book Two of the Emma series) by Linda Mitchelmore

Before You by Kathryn Freeman

The Highwayman’s Daughter by Henriette Gyland

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

IF you love chatting about Romance novels, #amwriting adventures and being in a wicked good circle of writers and readers joyfully sharing their writerly & bookish lives, I invite you to join us for #ChocLitSaturday which is an extension of my reviews & guest features on behalf of ChocLitUK! All are welcome! Visit @ChocLitSaturday for more details!

Announcement: #ChocLitSaturday is meeting on the 28th of October! Please mark your calendars and look for reminds on Twitter! Everyone is welcome!

Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same story to read.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

{SOURCES: Cover art of  “Before You”, “Seeking the Truth” and “A Second Christmas Wish”; Author photograph of Kathryn Freeman, Author Biography, Book Synopsis and ChocLit Reviewer badge were provided by ChocLitUK and were used by permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: ChocLitSaturdays Banner (Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo). Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination and from the art set I purchased on Etsy by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 21 October, 2017 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, A Father's Heart, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, British Literature, ChocLitSaturdays, ChocLitUK, Contemporary Romance, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Domestic Violence, England, Family Drama, Firefighters & Paramedics, Fly in the Ointment, Green-Minded Publishers, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Indie Author, Life of Thirty-Somethings, Life Shift, Loss of an unbourne child, Mental Health, Modern British Author, Modern British Literature, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Second Chance Love, Single Fathers, Small Towne Fiction, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Vulgarity in Literature, Widows & Widowers, Women's Fiction, Women's Health

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