Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Skyland #1

Before I Let Go

Rate this book
13 hours, 45 minutes

Award-winning and bestselling "powerhouse" author Kennedy Ryan is at her absolute best in this compelling, scorching novel about hope and healing, and what it truly means to love for a lifetime (USA Today).

Their love was supposed to last forever. But when life delivered blow after devastating blow, Yasmen and Josiah Wade found that love alone couldn’t solve or save everything.

It couldn’t save their marriage.

Yasmen wasn’t prepared for how her life fell apart, but she’s finally starting to find joy again. She and Josiah have found a new rhythm, co-parenting their two kids and running a thriving business together. Yet like magnets, they’re always drawn back to each other, and now they’re beginning to wonder if they’re truly ready to let go of everything they once had.

Soon, one stolen kiss leads to another…and then more. It's hot. It's illicit. It's all good—until old wounds reopen. Is it too late for them to find forever? Or could they even be better, the second time around?


First published November 15, 2022

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Kennedy Ryan

58 books21.1k followers

BOOKBUB: bookbub.com/authors/kennedy-ryan



INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/kennedyryan1/

KENNEDY RYAN BOOKS - https://www.facebook.com/groups/68160...

I write contemporary romance and women's fiction. I always give my characters their happily ever after, but I love to make them work for it! It's a long road to love, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

I am wife to the love of my life, mom to a special, beautiful son, and a friend to those living with autism through my charitable foundation.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
13,027 (56%)
4 stars
7,220 (31%)
3 stars
2,390 (10%)
2 stars
432 (1%)
1 star
94 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,890 reviews
Profile Image for Kennedy Ryan.
Author 58 books21.1k followers
August 8, 2022
Well . . .I wrote it, so you would assume I have glowing things to say about it. I hope it will glow. I hope many will see themselves in its pages. Will feel heard and validated and encouraged. There is a lot of healing that occurs in this book. Usually when that happens, you're healing FROM something. There are some heavy topics here, which you might expect if you've read my books before. As usual, there is lots of emotion, but I don't want it to overshadow the joy, the laughter, the strong friendships and family bonds that are such a part of Yasmen and Josiah's journey. They're a divorced couple co-parenting and running a business together. They are soul mates who got derailed by life. They heal as individuals, and that prepares them to be a couple again. It's a steamy, swoony, spicy, slow burning second chance. Hope you enjoy <3

Content warnings: Death of loved one (off page), stillbirth, depression, grief, passive suicidal ideation (no attempts)
Profile Image for Taylor Reid.
Author 23 books145k followers
November 10, 2022
Yasmen and Josiah hoped they had a love that would sustain them through every trial, but they found that love alone wasn’t enough. Now divorced, their lives are starting to get back on track. But as they are drawn back to each other time and again, they start to wonder if it’s too late for a second chance at a life together. This one packs an emotional punch.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,198 reviews40.7k followers
March 14, 2023
Damn it I loved this book so much! A divorced couple, conducting their restaurant business, raising their two kids and still in love with each other after 2 years of separation! Oh boy! I’m an emotional wrecking ball!

My heart truly aches for Yasmen and Josiah! They made mistakes. They are far from perfect. They ruined what they’ve worked for. They break each other’s hearts. They evolved. They suffered. They learned from their mistakes. They changed. They burned. They lost. They just try to move on.

The reason I loved them so much is they’re portrayed so real. Their traumas, their struggles, resentments, regrets, pain are so real! They gave up their marriage and they didn’t fight enough to get back together. Because after they’ve been through insufferable grief, they need time to heal.

Yasmen lost her baby and Josiah’s aunt who was like a second mother to her. She got depressed. She failed herself and marriage. After lots of therapy and learning coping mechanisms, she’s stronger but when she realizes her ex husband Josiah starts dating with their restaurant chief, she feels the deep pain, starting to question herself and the reasons behind why she cannot move on with her life just like he did.

Josiah still loves his wife. Even though he starts dating with another woman, he still trying to heal from their tragic breakup. After being dumbed by Yasmen, he barely learns to trust someone to open his heart. As he sees Yasmen also starts dating with another man, he realizes he still has feelings for her.

Kennedy Ryan created this amazing couple and this genuine, realistic, poignant, angsty story with a great perspective of the anatomy of the marriage, love, second chances, growing up together.

I cried so hard. The pure honesty of dialogues, the unbreakable love between Si and Yas warmed my heart and touched my soul deeply!

Nothing is over exaggerating or far fetched in this book. Emotions are perfectly pouring down the chapters, reaching to your heart, bringing those ugly tears and hiccups back!

This is so intense, heart wrenching, beautiful, deserving more than ten stars!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing/ Forever for sharing this fantastic digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts and special thanks to Kennedy Ryan for writing this amazing book.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.4k followers
May 16, 2023
im not married nor am i a parent, but i feel like this story taught me so much about how to be both.

i really love the depth this narrative shows when it comes to grief, loss, and the journey of handling those emotions. i appreciate how this story really promotes healthy communication and showcases the benefits of therapy. it works well with how yasmen and josiah recovered from the fall out of their marriage and being good examples for their children in the process.

that being said, there is just something that prevented me from really falling head over heels in love with this book. i cant quite put my finger on it, but the best way to explain how i feel is i love the idea of the story more than the story itself. theres no denying this book has heart and great messages about growth, forgiveness, and connection, but i just couldnt quite click with this one as much as i wanted to, unfortunately.

3 stars
Profile Image for Kezia Duah.
376 reviews308 followers
December 6, 2022
Wow!! I love a second chance romance but this one is my first one where the characters are divorced with kids. I loved this one very much as most of my expectations were exceeded.

The main thing I was looking for is chemistry and growth. This was done extremely well because I saw a lot of growth from Josiah, Yasmen, and their kids. They took active steps to find out where the problems stemmed from and work more on their communication. Regarding chemistry, my goodness! You know a story is about to be good when the tension between two people who are obviously still in love can be felt at high levels. I like that this didn’t feel rushed at all, as it gave me slow-burn vibes. I also like that I wasn't necessarily on anyone’s side since they both messed up.

Their relationship with their kids was also quite substantial and the Ryan does a great job of showing how important it was in the mending of Josiah and Yasmen's relationship. Their daughter caught my anger way too many times, but her character did illustrate what is probably common to see in kids when their parents divorce. Still, she did almost catch these hands.

Mental health was also huge in this one. We don’t often talk about how hard it can be to take steps to open up such as going to therapy. I was so proud of the characters who took this step and thankful to Ryan for bringing awareness to this.

Highly recommend it!
Profile Image for EmBibliophile.
497 reviews1,145 followers
November 16, 2022
5 ‘Till the wheels fall off’ stars

Kennedy Ryan’s books always do it for me. I’ve been so looking forward to reading this book. I mean, Kennedy is writing a book about “grown folks” who get a second chance romance after having “marriage in trouble” trope? Yes please!

Si and Yas are goals. Their love is so big you can’t describe it with words. They’re freakin soulmates. They had everything, the perfect family, the business they built, and the love they share. But then tragedy hits hard and they weren’t strong enough to fight for what they had and they decided to get a divorce that shattered their life.

“I will love you until I die. We said till death do us apart.”
“Death is tearing us apart.” Her laugh is bitter and short. “We assumed it would have to be our deaths that ended this. Turns out it was theirs.”
“We said vows.”
“Those are words, not walls. They don’t defend. They don’t enforce. They don’t protect us from life. From pain. From how things change. And I don’t want to stay in this just because we said we would. I need to stop hurting, and being with you? It hurts now.”

First of all, that divorce scene killed me!!!! It was so freakin emotional it brought tears to my eyes and it was just so freakin realistic and devastating that I found myself screaming at them to please stop you guys are making a wrong decision.

But I can understand where each one of them was coming from. Kennedy showed their pain and their struggles and the way each of them dealt with grief in the most perfect realistic way and I loved her more for that. Their fights, their love, their feelings, it was all so real and true. The whole thing was just killing me.

Huge Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for providing this copy.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
May 15, 2023
Kennedy Ryan is the one person I trust to write a story that will run over my heart with a Mack truck, only to piece it back together by the end in a more cohesive manner than it was to begin with. *quiet sob* Yas and Jo’s second chance was angsty and compulsive, but please note that this book reads more like contemporary fiction with graphic sexual content than a traditional romance. I’m a big fan of the recipe’s being added at the end of the book, and look forward to trying my hand at making at least one. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a book that will have you rooting for the couple and investing yourself in every page to ensure they get their happy ending.

TW: trauma, loss of a child/still birth, divorce, depression, grief, mental health, therapy, and suicidal ideation are all discussed.


*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,813 reviews32.4k followers
November 7, 2022
5 stars


Before I Let Go is a stunning second chance romance about a previously married couple finding love again. It’s an epic love story that shows how grief and loss can change a person, but also how time, patience, and love can heal them.

Josiah and Yasmen were in love and then something happened. It’s not that they fell out of love, it’s that life wrecks their relationship. They have two children and a business together, so they’re always going to be in each others lives but they have been divorced for a few years and they’re trying to find their new normals now that some healing has happened. What they find is that just maybe they’re not as over one another as they thought.
“You have to decide if being afraid of losing Yasmen again is worth never having her again.”

I loved both of these characters so much. They went through something that rocked them and they crumbled. I think we would all like to assume that if we went through that we would be strong and stay with our partners but I think until you’ve been through something like that you just don’t know.

Finding each other and finding their way back to happy was such a beautiful thing. At times I was frustrated with both Yasmen and Josiah but I loved how much they truly cared about one another and respected each other. I rooted so hard for them to find a way back together. I loved the part therapy played into their story and of course I loved their children and seeing them both as parents. They always tried to stay on the same team even when they weren't together.

This is a story that hit me all up in my feels. Kennedy Ryan has the sort of writing that really speaks to you. It’s beautiful and brilliant and I was moved by this story. It was extremely emotional at times, but it also had some light hearted moments and times that made me laugh. Yasmen and Josiah’s story will break your heart, but by the end it will be mended. This book was excellent and I highly recommend it!
Profile Image for Crystal's Bookish Life.
786 reviews1,354 followers
November 10, 2022
6/5 ⭐️This has been my most anticipated read since Kennedy announced she was doing a second chance romance with "grown folks" as she said. As someone who has spoken up about the lack of this very thing in romance I was beyond excited, and the fact that it was from my favorite author?! GIDDY UP!

Si and Yas are literal soulmates. They have the once in a life time love that you dream about. And from page one until the very end their connection and chemistry is palpable and vibrant. But tragedy hit their beautiful family and the life they dreamed of having together is shattered, seemingly beyond repair. They divorce and try to move on with their life but it's clear that their love never died, that their spark can never be snuffed out, that they will always feel pulled and drawn together.

Before I Let Go is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Full of lush, poetic prose, side by side with some excellent humor (Hendrix I'm looking at you) and sewn throughout the whole book is the ever present thread that love can always overcome.

I loved this book so much. It's one of those I would love to be able to read again for the first time. It does dealer with some heavy themes, grief and depression are strong in this book, but it is handled with the utmost care and grace.

As someone who has struggled with the blackest moments of deep depression I saw a bit of myself in Yas and couldn't help but feel comforted and inspired as I read her journey.

The characters were beautifully developed and so easy to relate to. The story flowed so effortlessly that I found myself losing track of time as I read. And even though I have never lived this exact experience I found myself able to visualize it and relate perfectly.

My favorite book of 2022. Kennedy Ryan is a gift to the writing world.

*I read an ARC for review*
CW below

CW: loss of a child, grief, depression, divorce, suicidal thoughts
Profile Image for Annette Williams.
841 reviews130 followers
March 12, 2023

I was afraid of this. Before I Let Go has gotten nothing but glowing reviews so, I’m a little bummed that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as everyone else did. But, this doesn’t surprise me. If I’m keepin’ it a buck, I didn’t think I’d like it. I’m not a fan of black authors who write interracial romance. I just don’t think they can give us the black experience black readers expect and I definitely did NOT get that with this book. But, I can appreciate the heartbreak Yasmen and Josiah went through. To lose a parental figure and your baby back to back then, to turn around and lose the love of your life is beyond devastating. But, the love is still there and these two manage to find their way back to one another. The author’s exploration of mental health was done very well. I thought she did a phenomenal job of showing us all sides of divorce, grief, depression, and trauma. However, if I’m being honest, I didn’t like these characters. I thought Yasmen was selfish as hell. She acted like she was the only one who lost Aunt Byrd and Henry, and she was the only one who was allowed to grieve. Josiah was soft and had absolutely no BDE. This is foreign to me. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the black male lead didn’t exude BDE. Ladies, y’all know how we are about these male characters. They show up, snatch our souls, and we’re ready to pull up and fight each other if somebody claims our man. Yeeeeeeah, I didn’t get that from Josiah. There was no confidence, charisma, or swagger about him. There was nothing forceful about his character so, needless to say, I’m not pullin’ up on nobody behind Josiah. Y’all can have him. I thought there would be way more drama with Vashti and Mark. I just knew they were going to start all kinds of shyt to keep Yasmen and Josiah apart but, their characters were kind of lackluster. Honestly, she could’ve omitted them from the storyline all together. Hell, if you blinked, you missed Mark. And, we won’t even discuss the lack of character description for Yasmen, Josiah, and Deja but, how detailed the descriptions were for Soledad, Lupe, and Mark. That’s a discussion for another day. To say I was disappointed in this book would be an understatement. I had so many issues with it. First and foremost, it’s NOT a black romance. They slapped a black woman on the cover, gave the characters “urban” like names, and horribly disguised it as black romance. The lack of blackness was problematic as well. Kennedy Ryan had the perfect opportunity to write a book strictly for us and she failed epically. You have a couple that lives in Georgia. One of the blackest states in the US. Yasmen and Josiah live in a city that’s Atlanta-ish so, why is it they couldn’t have a black gay couple as their neighbors?!!! Why couldn’t the restaurant they bought be black owned?!!! Why couldn’t both of Yasmen’s best friends be black?!!! Why was her love interest a blonde haired blue eyed man named Mark instead of a black man with dreads named Malik?!!! I’ll tell you why. Kennedy Ryan’s target readers are white women so, she made this book just black enough to satisfy black readers and make her white readers comfortable. Too much blackness may have started an uprising and, well, she and her publisher can't have that. Don't wanna upset the masses. Listen, if you’re not willing to give black readers the black romance we deserve without worrying about how your core white readers will feel then, stay on the interracial romance side of the fence. We’re good over here. Before I Let Go did not give what y’all said it gave. While it was a decent enough read, I just wasn't wowed with it like everyone else. Thank God for Wesleigh and Jakobi because, had I not listened to the audiobook, I probably would’ve DNFd it. I think it’s safe to say I won't be reading the other books in this series.
Profile Image for Abby Jimenez.
Author 5 books16.3k followers
November 26, 2022
I'm still thinking about this book. So, so good! Josiah is somehow an alpha-cinnamon roll hero. I don't know how Kennedy pulls this off, but she does. He's strong and sexy but also emotionally intelligent and totally devoted to his family. The conflict was perfect, excellent mental health rep, exquisite angst. This was my introduction to Kennedy and I'm totally hooked!
Profile Image for Phuong ✯.
617 reviews5,095 followers
December 7, 2022
– 3.75 stars

Kennedy Ryan never fails to amaze me with her beautiful, reel and poignant story.

There is only one letter of difference between love and lose, and somewhere along the way, for me they became synonymous. I understand now that something broke in me after my parents died that somehow healed wrong, and I started measuring how much I loved people in terms of how much it would hurt to lose them.

☆○o。 WHAT I LOVED: 。o○☆

➳ this book feels refreshing and original. at its core it is so much more than just a second chance romance. it’s about dealing with the loss of a child (stillborn), depression, a broken marriage, stigma surrounding therapy and so much more. Before I Let Go doesn’t have to rely onetropes, because the characters feel so real and not like cartoon characters. you could feel that Kennedy Ryan actually crafted the story and characters first, before throwing tropes like the one-bed trope in. there are marriage-in-crisis books out in the romance world, but i’ve actually never read about a divorced couple finding their way back to each other again. in that sense it was a unique experience for me.

Yasmen (h) and Josiah (H) felt so real to me. they feel like people i see every day that could walk across from me. i could feel the depth of pain Yas was in when she lost the baby and when her marriage was going downhill. i could feel Josiah’s sting of rejection when Yas asked for a divorce and his fear of losing loved ones. at some points it didn’t feel like i was reading a fictional story, but a memoir of a couple.

Our life, our love, didn’t follow the path we thought it would, but that makes it no less true.

➳ the angst between Yas and Josiah was immaculate. fair warning for those who haven’t read this book yet: there is a bit of OW/OM drama involved, since both Yas and Josiah are seeing other people for almost half of the book. it’s been almost 2 years since Yas and Si have been divorced, so i understand that they tried to move on.
did i hate that Josiah slept with Vashti (OW)? yes. (all off screen, thank god)
did i also eat up all the hurt and jealousy? also yes.

“What’s so funny?” I venture after a few seconds of him laughing and shaking his head in seeming disbelief. The humor in his eyes, if it was ever genuine, dissipates, leaving his gaze cool, flat. “The irony of you saying you don’t want to see someone hurt me.” “I-I don’t.” “No one in my whole life has ever hurt me like you did.”

➳ Kassim is my precious little angel and i love Yas and Josiah’s youngest kid. he was so adorable and such a smart kid. Kassim was so concious of the feelings of the people around him and he deserves the best.

➳ it’s such a tiny detail, but i absolutely loved that my girl Lotus Ross (Hock Shot) got a shoutout. loved that for her.

☆○o。 WHAT I HATED: 。o○☆

➳ Deja was such a little ungrateful bitch. god i hated her with my whole soul. i really can’t remember the last time i ever hated a kid in a book as much as I hated Deja. this kid got on my last nerves and no i don’t give a fuck that she was a hormonal 13 yr old and probably doesn’t know better. it’s okay that she was such a daddy’s girl, that is cute and all, but the way she behaved around Yas was unacceptable. Deja kept blaming her mother for the divorce and how she constantly talked down to her. fuck no, Deja deserves to be slapped. i’m sorry but i HATE this kid so much you don’t understand. call me a hypocrite bc i just said that i love about this book how real the characters are, but when it gets too real like this little angsty teenager turd i’m outta here. kids in books are usually a win, except you Deja Wade, you suck.

“Why wouldn’t we be?” She sucks her teeth. “You deserve some happiness after what she put you through.”
She? “Um … Do you mean your mother?”
“Of course. Who could blame you for moving on? Mom went crazy and ruined your life and—”

“You were so strong when they died. You held everything together,” she says, her young features, so like her mother’s, hardening. “And Mom just fell apart. Blew everything up.”

“She doesn’t deserve you! It’s all her fault! Everything is her fault.”

i’m glad for Yasmen’s sake that their relationship was slowly healing by the end of it, but that doesn’t mean i have forgiven that petulant child.


➳ this book was told 99% in the present. the prologue showed Si and Yas’ past, but then from there one it was mainly 2 years after their divorce forward. and i wanted to see more of their relationship when it was not tainted by all the tragedy. even tho i’m not the biggest fan of flashback scenes, i feel like this would have been beneficial in this case. there was so much talk about how great their relationship was before they lost Henry (the stillborn baby), but it was never shown.

☆○o。 CONCLUSION 。o○☆

Before I Let Go was definitely not a romcom and I would recommend this book if you want to read something a bit more real and painful, but something that is still hopeful and beautiful.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,077 reviews13.3k followers
December 23, 2022
Words can't even begin to describe how talented Kennedy Ryan is as a writer. The amount of time and research that goes into her books creates such impactful stories that actually change the lives of her readers. This book is a second chance romance between a couple who lost a child and got a divorce because they couldn't heal while in a relationship with one another. They have two kids and you really get to see how the children are affected by their divorce, but also how each parent is affected by their children and how they act around them. The couple owns a restaurant together and they are still coparenting, so they are always around one another. Two years have passed and Josiah decides to start dating again. When Yasmin sees this, old feelings are stirred and she realizes she doesn't want Josiah being with anyone else. But Yasmin and Josiah are still dealing with their own losses and struggles with depression and therapy and have to learn to heal themselves before committing themselves to each other again. This was so emotional and my heart broke for Yasmin and Josiah. Their kids were also so special and played such an important role in the story. Kennedy Ryan gave us another amazing romance and I couldn't recommend it enough!!
Profile Image for Letitia  | Bookshelfbyla.
110 reviews67 followers
December 6, 2022
‘Before I Let Go’ is a contemporary romance following a divorced couple in Atlanta, who own a restaurant and are raising two kids together. The story unpacks the reasons for their divorce and if they can overcome their trauma and come back to each other.


I had to SEARCH the corners of the internet (Goodreads) for a single review that was not five stars. It appears I am one of the few on earth who was not moved by this story.

I did not hate it. There are comparisons to Seven Days in June which early on I did see but SDIJ is a better book. However, if you are a Colleen Hoover fan, you will probably love this book. Unfortunately, I am not.

I did appreciate the inclusion of depression, the value of therapy, and grief — especially in connection to motherhood.

I could not connect to either character or really care for their marriage. Chapter 1 they get engaged and in Chapter 2 they are divorced. We saw nothing of them actually in a healthy marriage but we are supposed to root for them but I could never get there.

This book was also 100 pages too long. I found myself skipping sections because it had a lot of filler scenes that weren’t pivotal to the plot. If anything, we could’ve used that time to learn more about why they were such a great couple. We have to take their word for it bc WE NEVER SAW IT!

The son was probably the best character. The daughter was a BRAT. Yasmen was annoying and Josiah didn’t do much for me either. We were supposed to be obsessed with him but there were no actions to back it up. I knew their short-term relationships wouldn’t last so it was honestly a waste of time even including them. Mark and the chef didn’t stand a chance.

Now, I would be remised if I didn’t talk about how this is supposed to be a Black love story. To keep it short, it honestly didn’t feel like it. If you changed the names and the setting to a different city, it could be for any random couple which I think is my real problem.

I really wanted a romance story I could feel invested in and connected to, but this was not it for me. Sorry to everyone who loved it 😭
Profile Image for pauline.
128 reviews21.6k followers
October 28, 2022
Knew from the beginning of the book it was gonna be 5 stars 💕 Second chance romance is one of my top tropes and I love a good marriage reconciliation!! From the prologue to the epilogue, I was invested and in love with the characters and the writing and the progression.

Before I let go is filled with love but also so much growth and healing and ache and forgiveness all melting together. i felt so many emotions while reading and not once did rating waver so that’s a very strong point for the book. I’m in love with yasmen just as much as I’m in love with Josiah. She’s strong and inspiring and the the chemistry and love between the two was undeniable!!

This book is about a divorced couple who’ve managed to co-parent and run their business together but the love between them has never really gone away and so they find their way back to each other… second chance really is my mf fave 😭🔥

Can’t stop thinking about them and it’s certainly one of my new favorites <33 wish I could put into better words how much love I have for this book!!

--content warnings will be available at the beginning of the book when it releases on nov15--

*thank you so much Kennedy and LEO PR for the arc!!*
Profile Image for Madison Warner Fairbanks.
2,236 reviews302 followers
November 25, 2022
Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
Contemporary romance. Second chance. Skyland series #1.
Yasmen and Josiah fell in love in college, built a business and a family, but the loss of an unborn child tears them apart. Divorced and trying to move on, they find themselves working through their grief and becoming closer together.

Grief can be isolating. Therapy may help but being ready to heal is key. This story starts after their tragedy and just as they are ready to heal. It’s emotionally gut wrenching and powerful with love at the same time. It’s a curative romance.
I found the children amusing with the reconciliation evidence but it was heartwarming too.

I received a copy of this from NetGalley.
November 9, 2022
4.5 ⭐️ this book was so painful. but also beautiful. yasmen was my absolute favorite part. the way kennedy ryan wrote this.. makes u feel everything the mc’s are feeling as if ur a part of their story. i loved the way depression was described and the open discussions about therapy & medication. overall this book really hit home for me. it’s not a full five star because josiah did in fact anger me a lot. but overall, incredible. cant wait for the other two bff’s to get books because wow they’re amazing.

“i was no walk in the park.”
“who wants to walk in the park? i think that man would run wild with you.” <3
Profile Image for emilybookedup.
324 reviews2,961 followers
April 21, 2023
sadly this book that was a victim to the hype for me 😩

first off, the good things:
- very interesting topics, lots of dialogue, moved pretty quickly, lots going on so it kept my interest
- the mental health representation—very well done. the encouragement of therapy especially in men. lots of really awesome quotes/paragraphs i tabbed, full of life lessons, how to overcome tough situations and mental hardship and important things to keep in mind
- the gentleness of how very tough topics were discussed and managed. grief, loss of a child, suicide ideation, trauma, divorce. HEAVY stuff that was written very delicately. the author did a very good job at explaining what it could feel like to go through these things to help put you in the mindset/shoes of the characters dealing with these things
- showing how parents can be amicable and cordial after a split & successfully co-parent

okay nowwwww the rest… *potential spoilers*
- the marketing. this was marketed as a second chance romance and i think instead it was a women’s fiction novel with a couple who is fighting for a second chance
- i think the only character i loved was young son, he was hilarious
- the one hotel room/bed trope… personally my least fave trope, it pains me
- the “second chance.” if you know me, you know this is my FAVORITE trope and i can admit i’m very critical on it. in this one, there weren’t enough flashbacks or a big enough gap in time for this to even be one?! i need angst, emotion, regret, soulmate vibes and major desire to be BEGGING for these characters to reunite. in this book, they just got over the divorce, still see each other/talk every day, realize they’re horny and jealous and maybe messed up and bam? it left for no angst or build up at all for me!
- on that note… am i the only one that didn’t get why they went back to each other/were so in love? it seemed like all they talked about was how much they missed each other sexually/all they did was have sex? these characters were together for 10+ years before the divorce and i wish we were shown more about what made them MADLY in love besides how they looked at each other and the chemistry they had

i encourage readers to go look at goodreads reviews 3 stars and below. BIPOC readers bring up great points about how there was an opportunity for this to be a Black romance as it was marketed but when it came up (the skin color, physical traits, where the MC’s live, etc) the author didn't say it but had clear detail about the white characters. i'm referencing Annette Williams and Ireadbooks reviews here, and encourage readers to go look at their beautiful in-depth reviews as these thoughts are not my own!
Profile Image for Anna.
157 reviews130 followers
November 19, 2022
Kennedy Ryan, every single time you publish a book, you just take my beating heart into your hands and squeeze for dear life, and I always thank you afterwards. What kind of toxic relationship are we having???

I'll admit, I was ready to dislike this book. If marriage in trouble is one of my least favorite tropes, you can imagine how I feel about a divorced couple trope.

Obviously, like any blanket statement, this does have exceptions (case in point, books 2 and 3 in Christina Lauren's Wild Seasons series, though I don't think they really count because the "marriage" in these books consisted of a 24-hour drunken period in Vegas), but I guess what I try to avoid overall is the overwhelming heartbreak I always get when reading these kinds of books. Let's just say I want to know what happens before the HEA, not after, especially if the after includes lawyers and custody agreements.

Couple that with the fact that Kennedy Ryan – who has been known to bring me to tears a time or two – wrote this book, and I just had a recipe for disaster. I was not in the mood for angsty this week!

However, in a weird and surprising twist for everyone, this book turned out not to be the most painful one I've read from Kennedy. I definitely felt like she hurt me worse in Still, and Long Shot, and Queen Move, for example.

But, listen, please don't mistake my weird journey here for reality: this book definitely does still pack a punch.

Before I Let Go is the story of divorced couple Yasmen and Josiah, who reached a breaking point in their happy marriage after dealing with the stillbirth of their third child. The book is set two years after papers were signed, and we get to see how they've moved on with their lives and adjusted their parenting and professional relationships to their new reality.

There's a lot to prepare yourselves for before diving into this – lots of intense grief and depression discussions, as well as the main characters having relationships with other people (Josiah has a girlfriend at the beggining of the book and Yasmen also goes on dates with another guy), and other stuff that might be triggering. But I do want to point out that their love never once faltered, and that their issues had a lot more to do with the different ways they processed loss than with how they felt about each other.

Considering the challenges I've been facing in my own life recently, I definitely thought this book might be too much for me at the moment. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that there was so much hope and romance and forgiveness and overall positivity in this story, which just made my heart happy and allowed me to enjoy the journey.

I love Kennedy Ryan a whole lot and I loved this book. If you're scared it's going to make you cry, listen, it definitely will – but it will also bring you back together in the most beautiful way. ❤️
Profile Image for Sharonda Isadora.
125 reviews9 followers
November 24, 2022
Eh, an okay read.

First of all, let's start by saying this is NOT a romance. It is womens fiction OR literal fiction (being that is is being told from dual POVs) with romance elements but lets be clear the romance is not heavy on page.

We spend 99% of the time in both Yasmens and Josiahs head that was annoying to the tenth power. There was no movement of the story until the end? which was rushed and unfullfilling...useless. Like it was pretty much predictable that these two were going to end up back together.

Yasmen was IMO an unlikable character. Her whoa is me ways throughout this read was another annoying factor FOR ME. Yes, she lost a child but she wasn't the only one in the relationship that experienced lost. AND yes, I understand that she carried the child and had to go through a still birth delivery so yes I understand her process of loss would be different than Josiah's BUT he lost a child too AND his aunt in close proximity. So why Yasmen walked around this book the way she did irritated my soul. Her accusing the man of not being there for her fully WHEN she would not allow him to be was...something.

Josiah was pretty much a backdrop to Yasmen's grief. He was just "there". I truly did not get his purpose on page. Yes we got his POV but the man was if Im being frank, useless especially when it came to Deja "too grown" self which I will speak on later. Glad the man decided to get therapy and talk some things out but this doesn't help his character growth throughout the read.

The kids:
Deja: This grownifcation of little Black girls in books/tv/etc need to stop. Yes Deja was acting out because of the divorce but she was written like a 16/17 year old when she was 13 going on 14, a child. Cussing? yeah, I wish my kid would. The disrepect towards Yasmen to the point of just being rude. NO. This all ties into the her being written as a child NOT her age. Just did not care for it.
The little boy (I can't remember his name right now, sorry lols): Much like his father, he served no purpose but glad we got a little genius Black boy on page....I guess.

I don't have much to said about the side characters because many of them only served the purpose of being diversions to Yasmen's and Josiah's situation.

Mainly, these characters were written with so much ambiguity. People are going around touting this as some great Black romance and I ask where? Because we never got any kind of description of Yasmen or Josiah on page. Shoot even their kids weren't given character descriptions. BUT we sure got the white and POC character descriptions. She did a better job of telling us what Yamen's friends daughter looked like right down the red in her hair inherited from her white father. Outside of body/hair descriptions and "Kelly Rowland brown skin"....like really? Bye Kennedy. And again, what romance did we see? Until the end? Which again still wasn't much.

We can give some credit to the book for dealing with a post divorce couple trying to recoup after such devastating lost and I feel like maybe if BILG was being marketed as fiction from the start, I would have had different expectations AND no it would not have changed my thoughts about the book in general but yeah, my expectations would have been different. We can give the author credit for inserting therapy in the story for the characters but thats all the credit I'm going to give her.

Finally, this story was boring. Lack luster. I started off rating this a 3 but the more I sat on my review? yeah, this rightfully deserves 2.5, maybe a 2. Like I said, we can give her credit for her conversations on mental health, loss, grief and she did add cw/tw. But at the end of it all, this book is not giving what I think ya'll saying its giving. This is another mainstream book hitting all the diversity lists check offs.

**Thank you to the publisher for the ARC and the opportunity to read/review.
Profile Image for Rashawnda.
552 reviews50 followers
November 21, 2022
I wanted to love this story, I really did but it missed the mark for me. Even with my favorite narrators bringing this story to life, I just didn’t connect like I wanted to. I connected with Yas as a woman and as a mother for sure but that’s were things dropped off. The story was going in a decent direction but it was missing something that was needed to bring everything full circle and I can’t put my finger on what that something was. It was a ok story but I feel like there was so much hype and so much anticipation built up that I expected it to be absolutely amazing, like blown away and it’s fell flat in some areas. I didn’t feel the romance that I thought I would and had I read it and not listened to it, I wouldn’t have felt anything. It focused more on loss, grief and healing than anything else which is ok if that’s what was intended. Romance was a small fraction of the book. I would have liked to see more than the physical attraction between these two. Even with some of their flashback moment it always led to the physical. I would have liked to see a deep dive into what connected them beyond the kids, beyond the restaurant, beyond their loss. I appreciated the healing journey’s that we were taken on. It was clear the love between Josiah and Yasmen was there but I felt connected to his love for her more than the other way around or maybe it was his heartbreak…. Idk. This book taught an important lesson that with some relationships, love isnt always enough to heal the pain and trauma that we experience. All in all, the book didn’t quite do it for me 🥴
Profile Image for Jenn (The Book Refuge).
1,705 reviews2,517 followers
August 13, 2022
*Thank you to Forever Pub and the author for an ARC of this title.*

Kennedy Ryan's books are like going on a long seafaring voyage and her HEA's are a lighthouse on a hill after a night of tossing and turning on thrashing seas. Just when you think the boat is about to go over and all hope is lost... The light shines through the darkness and someone shouts, "land ho!" And you know.. deep in your soul, everything is going to be alright. Yes, we have taken on water and some damage has been done, we also may now all have PTSD, but when your foot touches land... it's almost ecstasy.

I know that was a very dramatic depiction but that's the kind of ride I feel like I sign up for every time I step into one of her books. And each new release has only made the journey more intense. But that lighthouse is always there. Just waiting for us to see it and the captain to lead us safely past the rocks to dry land.

Second Chance Romance is one of my favorite kind of stories to read. My own parents re-married after being divorced for just 18 months. While their reasons for divorce were not the same as for Yas and Josiah, it has made me very compassionate towards this type of story because I KNOW it can happen, I've watched it.

And sure, you can say, "why divorce for so short of time? Seems like a waste.." To that I say... sometimes you need to see to your own oxygen mask before you can think about anyone else. Grief and pain can mess with your head and depression can shut down everything, sometimes even your will to live. Kennedy was able to show that in a clarity that I have not really read before. It cuts deep and it's tragic but it was necessary.

I also loved how there were no "villians" in this story. There may be a few characters that you want to hate, but that's not this kind of story. The circumstances and grief reactions are enough of a conflict and a struggle. No mud needs to be slung at anyone else. Sometimes that's the truth and it's even more agonizing when there is no one to blame.

I appreciated the use of talk therapy and counselling, as well as self reflection and growth. It made so much sense and makes the changes and second chance so believable, especially since there isn't a huge distance or many years that separate these two. They co-parent, they are business owners together, and they still live in the same neighborhood. So the work they do has to feel like it mattered but also... it is WORK, not just time, that helps them move forward.

Okay, this is enough rambling. I could gush for ages and ages. Put this book on all your lists, pre-order it and be prepared to curl up with some Kleenex and ice cream. Take your make-up off and put on some mood music. You are gonna need it.

But I promise, the lighthouse is there just waiting for you to see it in the darkness. The HEA is worth any pain the journey may cause.

P.S. oh wait, this is a romance, the spice is also Kennedy Ryan level beautiful and steamy. Figured I should mention that somewhere...

6 stars
3 on the spice scale

TW: loss of a full term pregnancy through trauma. Grief, loss, and divorce.
Profile Image for Malene.
1,200 reviews526 followers
August 14, 2022
It’s no secret that I enjoy divorced couple getting their second chance. It’s my cat nip. Before I Let Go has this trope but this story is so much more. The topics are relevant and it’s evident that Kennedy Ryan knows what she’s talking about. I felt in the words and the journey Yasmen and Josiah go through. Ryan doesn’t shy away from showing all the sides to divorce, grief, depression and trauma. She lets the reader in and follow Yasmen and Josiah through thick and thin. The despair, the helplessness to growth and self discovery.

I connected with the characters in a deep way and again that’s a testament to the author. The story takes its time to let Yasmen and Josiah get back up from where it went so horribly wrong. It’s a slow progression but in this case it was necessary for me to believe in these people. In their growth and in their journey towards a second chance. It’s executed to sheer perfection. Not only Yasmen and Josiah but their kids and friends captured my heart.

The love story of Yasmen and Josiah was heartbreakingly beautiful. So much depth and layers to these two incredible people. The chemistry was combustible. The history between them only made it even more potent.
The journey of them getting back together didn’t just affect them but also their two children. Ryan portrays all facets of divorce flawlessly.
It’s a heavy and very emotional story. This second chance is worth a read. I felt seen and I’m positive many other readers will too.

5 Heartbreakingly Beautiful Stars

*The ARC of this book was provided by the Forever Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for rasa.
167 reviews75 followers
Shelved as 'waste-disposal'
January 7, 2023
him being perfectly capable of being attracted to, having genuine feelings for and sleeping w another woman but she is incapable of all that and can’t do anything more than kiss another man and even that feels wrong to her 😩 i’m so sick of this narrative
Profile Image for Brandice.
857 reviews
December 13, 2022
Before I Let Go is worth the hype — Yasmen and Josiah were the “it” couple, everyone could see it. They built the life they dreamed about until they were dealt two devastating blows, back to back, and just couldn’t recover.

Now they’re divorced, but amicable, co-parenting successfully and sharing their restaurant, Grits. Though they are civil with each other, a ton of hurt, unspoken words, and underlying tension remains.

While the romance was strong and the chemistry between Yasmen and Josiah was believable, I have to say, the repetitiveness of their attraction began to wear on me, just a little — We get it, you are both still very physically attracted to each other.

What I loved most about Before I Let Go was the writing about hard challenges in life, it felt so fitting and accurate. Even the strongest people need help sometimes. I also really liked the alternating POVs between Yasmen and Josiah.

“And I think I'm most grateful for time, which doesn't always heal all wounds, but teaches us how to be happy again even with our scars." — 4.5 stars
Profile Image for diana.
135 reviews156 followers
January 18, 2023
i haven’t had a big cry in a while but this book destroyed and broke me in the best way possible, i will never recover
Profile Image for Megan.
384 reviews981 followers
January 6, 2023
As a therapist who is uber-sensitive to how grief and therapy are portrayed in fiction, I can say this was done very well! The writing, character growth, and storytelling were top tier in this beautiful novel!
Profile Image for Destiney Bomberry.
137 reviews921 followers
February 20, 2023
5⭐️ Without a fucking doubt

Please check your TW with this.
Damn I knew Kennedy Ryan can write emotionally packed books but this was a whole other level. This was a gut punch of a book and I cried non stop through the entire thing!! The events that took place in this book hit so close to home and I resonated so strongly with Yasmen’s character ❤️

This book was full of raw and heartbreaking moments, the vulnerability of the characters written by Kennedy is truly phenomenal.
This is hands down the best second chance romance story I have ever read!!

Yasmen and Josiah have my whole heart and I will never never never forget their story.

Grabs tissues cause you will need it!!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,890 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.