Best-selling author Samantha Young takes the notion of “friends with benefits” to a deliciously sexy new level in the latest entry of her On Dublin Street series. In Before Jamaica Lane, she focuses on two unattached members of the young Edinburgh group of friends who have won her thousands of dedicated fans.
Newly transplanted to Edinburgh from the United States, Olivia is looking for a fresh start. She’s got a great job as a library assistant and a brand-new group of friends who have introduced her to the charms of Scottish culture. The only problem is Olivia’s lack of a love life, an empty spot in her existence made all the more glaring by the cozy couplings all around her.
It’s not that she lacks interest, though—especially when it comes to a gorgeous postgrad named Benjamin. But despite her usually outgoing nature, Olivia doesn’t know how to approach guys—at all. The smarts and sense of humor on display with her friends immediately evaporate in the face of a good-looking man—except for Nate, one of her best friends.
Ruthlessly unattached when it comes to the many women in his life, Nate is equally loyal when it comes to the people he cares about—and Olivia is among them. If she needs to learn to flirt, who better than the most sexually confident guy she knows to teach her? They already spend lots of time together watching movies and generally hanging out—now they’ll simply add some steamy instruction to the mix.
What could go wrong, right? At first, Olivia’s completely game. Awkward as it might be with Nate as mouth-wateringly beautiful as he is experienced, Olivia is willing to see the experiment through. After all, the end game is boosting her confidence, and hopefully working up the nerve to approach Benjamin. But soon enough it’s clear that Nate needs to teach her more than some flirtatious conversation. Liv’s sexual experience is next to nil, and if she can’t see what’s lusciously attractive about her, Nate needs to show her.
Cue fireworks. Young is enthusiastically straightforward about Liv’s education in pleasure, and Nate is a fantastically seductive teacher. While Nate’s character sometimes seems a little too conveniently perfect—a freelance photojournalist who makes good money on the side as a movie reviewer!—Olivia’s problems and insecurities are reassuringly familiar, and Young makes her growing confidence believable, including the question of whether Benjamin is really the man she wants anymore.
The developing relationship between Olivia and Nate is explored in detail, reaching into all the subtle and shadowed corners of their interaction to tell the story of two people crossing lines in all kinds of intimate ways. Naturally, there’s more than Liv’s sexual awakening to the plot—the continuing developments in her friends’ lives are woven through the book seamlessly, and Nate’s emotional growth makes the ending truly satisfying. The result is a page-turning read full of refreshingly steamy sex and the realistic relationship foibles of young adults building an extended network of chosen family.