Place(s) Traveled To: Temple Sterling, Florida // Reeding, South Carolina
First Line(s): My college essay was titled "School Lunches, TS High, and Me," and it was every bit as terrible as you'd expect.
When I hear that a book is an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel I am both excited and wary not unlike how I feel when Hollywood announces that it will be making a movie out of a favorite read. This is how I felt went I began Emma Mill's book FIRST & THEN which is based off PRIDE & PREJUDICE, one of my favorite Jane Austen books. (Though much like Devon all Austen books can be my favorite when I read them.) I really enjoyed the character of Devon, even though there were times when I wanted to shake her. FIRST & THEN like so many other books suffers from a lack of character communication and that just frustrates me to no end. This frustration could also be passed on to Ezra who also could have benefited from talking more. But much like Mr Darcy, Ezra definitely falls into the broody, silent type category.
Frustrations aside though I really adored this story. I enjoyed the secondary characters and how both Devon and Ezra interacted with Foster. Foster was adorable and I just loved all the scenes that he was in. I could have done without Devon's crush on Cas and some of that whole plot line but it was realistic though I do feel that it went on too long in this book. I also wasn't a fan of how Cas dealt with it all and I seriously could have smacked him at times. But have I mentioned how much I liked Devon and Ezra? Because I did. And I enjoyed how this story played out. FIRST & THEN was a quick read and I finished it in rapid time because once I picked it up I hated to put it down. While its not a perfect book it definitely was the right book for me in that moment that I read it.
On thing I did wish in this book was that there was more to the relationship of Ezra and Devon. I get that its a PRIDE & PREJUDICE retelling and Mills really followed that story line well but I wanted more kissing! I wish that there was more to the story so we could see Ezra and Devon as a couple because so much of the book was spent with them apart and being all angsty and in like with each other. This is where communication skills really could have helped the situation. Although, this again is reflective of real life as humans often have trouble talking about feelings with other humans.
Overall, I thought that FIRST & THEN was smart and funny and I loved how it was written. This is a great modern adaptation for PRIDE & PREJUDICE and I think it will appeal to fans of that story as well as those who have never read a Jane Austen novel. There is a simplicity to this story that works well and makes a good escape from the every day. FIRST & THEN is a feel good novel that will make your heart ache (in that way that I love) and will leave you with a smile on your face. This is a book that I know I'll be reading more than once and this is an author that I am looking forward to reading more books from.