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Before Ever Afterby Samantha Sotto
Synopses & Reviews
"A smartly written romance, mystery and historical adventure all wrapped up in a page-turner that will have you guessing until the very end." – Adena Halpern, author of The Ten Best Days of My Life
Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max–same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose–he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.
As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem–how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? – Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down–if it is really Max– and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.
"In her debut novel, Sotto sets up the intriguing notion that Shelley Gallus's husband, Max, dead for three years, is actually alive and well on an island in the Philippines — in fact he's been alive for centuries! As Shelley and Paolo (who claims to be Max's grandson) embark on a journey to confront Max about abandoning them, Shelley recounts how she met Max in Europe while he was working as a tour guide for the Slight Detour Company. She and Paulo come to understand that Max's historic tidbits, from 79 A.D. to 1871, involve stories in which he was a major player. While Sotto capably envisions different venues and historic events, it is difficult for readers to make the leap of faith necessary to make this fantastical premise work, especially since Sotto never adequately explains the precise logistics of how Max achieved his immortality. While the various anecdotes about Max's different roles through history are entertaining — including that of a wealthy landowner living the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius and a French rouÃ© who escaped the ravages of the French Revolution — they lack narrative purpose and seem to merely showcase Sotto's knowledge of obscure historic facts and myths. Nevertheless, the author shows a flair for description and offers insight into successful relationships. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
SAMANTHA SOTTO fell in love with Europe’s cobbled streets and damp castles when she moved to the Netherlands as a teenager. Since then, she has spent nights huddled next to her backpack on a Greek beach, honeymooned in Paris, and attended business meetings in Dusseldorf in the pleasant company of a corporate credit card. Before Ever After was inspired by her experiences living, studying, and traveling through Europe. This is her first novel.
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