“Shelley Gallus’ happy ending abruptly ended three years ago when her husband Max died. She has settled into life as a widow, braving Sunday mornings alone with a cup of Jasmine tea and a poor imitation of Max’s famous baked eggs and cheese, until her fragile recovery is shattered one morning when the doorbell rings. On her doorstep she finds handsome young Paolo, who bears not only an uncanny resemblance to her late husband but some unbelievable news: Max is alive!
Shelley would be overjoyed by the words she has been longing for if not for two small details. First, Max was blown to bits by a Madrid subway bomb. And second, Paolo claims to be her 32-year-old husband’s 32-year-old grandson. Still, the single spark of hope that she could be reunited with the love of her life is all Shelley needs to launch her across the globe with Paolo in search of Max.
During their journey, Shelley is preoccupied with memories of “The Slight Detour,” the budget European tour package where she met and fell in love with her tour guide husband. Reality descends as Shelley begins to realize that Max’s vivid stories of bloody Parisian rebellions, medieval Austrian monasteries, and doomed Venetian cities may not have been stories at all.
Shelley had always believed her marriage was the stuff of fairy tales. But when fantasy collides hard with reality, and she and Paolo come closer to discovering the truth about Max, Shelley faces an agonizing leap of faith before she can have her happily ever after.”
Combine part modern tragedy with two parts historical fiction and a healthy dose of realistic fantasy and you have Samantha Sotto’s ambitious debut novel Before Ever After. It’s a work of gradual advancement starting in what seems like an all to real modern day setting but taking its readers on a supernatural ride through the centuries. In the beginning I had some troube truly getting into the book, for some reason it went slowly for me. I almost put it down on multiple occasions to be perfectly honest. However once I got into the “meat” of the novel so to say…I was hooked. Samanatha Sotto has a natural talent that is nearly impossible to deny was she weaves her tale of Max, Shelley and Paolo throughout time. She also has a meticulous eye for detail and well done research when it comes to the more historical aspects of her writing.
Sotto has created a book of both magical and realistic proportions that once truly began is perfectly paced and realized. It’s a detective trail in many ways following along the path and clues left behind by Max as he has traveled through years and lives over the centuries. What Shelley once considered stories may very well be first hand accounts and the honest truth. As both Shelley and Paolo follow along the path the realize the man they both loved so very much was an individual so beyond their imagining but perhaps still the man of their dreams. But what will what they learn of him do to their present and their past memories?
In the end Samantha Sotto’s debut work will leave you wanting more and also craving the “Baked Eggs and Cheese” she so often mentions. When we lose a loved one it can be funny what we cling to…Sotto knows this and many other things about the human heart that come shining through in Before Ever After. This is a book of many mysteries, revelations and surprises…one which I don’t wish to spoil for readers because I believe they will enjoy it so themselves.
One lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime will win their very own copy of Before Ever After. Giveaway ends midnight EST August 9, 2011. US/Canada addresses only please. The winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!
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