Thursday, April 14, 2016

Before Hadley by J. Nathan

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What's worse than a cocky new guy at school? A cocky new guy with a killer body and the attention of every female at school. Hadley can tell the minute she lays eyes on Caynan that he's someone to avoid. He may have looks and charm, but he's also got heartbreak written all over his pretty face.

Unfortunately for Hadley, Caynan has his sights set on her. She's the one girl who doesn't want him. The one girl who's turned off by his charm. The one girl who challenges him like no other. And, though she couldn't possibly know the truth about him, she seems to be the one girl who really sees him.

But with Caynan, things aren't at all what they seem. His secrets have secrets and everything out of his mouth straddles the line between truth and fiction. He knows better than to get involved with anyone, especially with his time limited in the new town, but he just can't seem to get Hadley out of his mind. Too bad for him, secrets never remain secrets for long.

Before Hadley is about a high school romance with all the potential to go well but ends up disastrously before it even has a chance to get off the ground.

Hadley and Caynan meet at a party. With his drop-dead good looks and that British accent, it doesn’t take long for all the girls at his new high school to notice him and want to stake their claims on him. Hadley however is unimpressed, pegging him for the über cocky type and he proves her correct. So she can’t fathom why when he could get with any of the other girls at school, and she clearly wants nothing to do with him, he zeroes in on her. They seem to have this flirty-teasing vibe that works for them. He continues to ask her out and she responds with sarcasm; it’s a beautiful thing! When she finally relents she’s surprised to see that she actually has fun with him. The biggest revelation is that he notices and appreciates details about her that none of her other boyfriends have ever noticed. As for Caynon, she makes him want to be a better man yet he’s walking a thin line because for reasons beyond his control, he’s being a deceitful prat. He is not who he claims to be yet when he’s with Hadley he feels most like himself. He works double-time to hide as much about himself as possible while still throwing out nuggets of truth to alleviate his guilt. When his duplicity is finally revealed, it’s game over. Hadley’s heart is broken into a million pieces and Caynan’s life is shattered.

I didn’t expect a time jump with each of them carrying on with their own lives. Hadley has trust issues – understandable, and Caynan wants a redo. He’s managed to turn his life around and is bent on winning back the girl. I was in Hadley’s corner for most of it, especially after Caynan attempts to return into her life. I absolutely understood how Hadley’s trust has been damaged and how she can’t outright forgive him. None of it is easy and Caynan has to work so hard, much like when he chased after her in high school except this time there’s they both carry heavy hearts. 

I requested this title simply because it was by J. Nathan. I liked her previous book, Since Drew that I read last year and I’d forgotten than she can write some heavy stuff but still sprinkle lighter moments in between. Trust is the central issue in this story along with the power of forgiveness, if and when it’s given. I wasn’t sure how she would wrap things up, whether there’d be any reconciliation and I liked that that was up in the air. Those two themes along with the angst and romance make Before Hadley another enjoyable read.

~ Bel

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