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Before Us

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I never saw him coming.

I didn’t know what would happen after my client found me sleeping in my car.
I’d been cleaning his house as his wife was dying.
I didn’t expect them to invite me to live with them.
I didn’t expect Suzie to become my lifeline—until she was gone.

I didn’t expect him to ask me to marry him when he found out I needed medical insurance.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with a grieving man.

There are so many reasons to keep my distance from Zach. Every tender moment secreted away. 

When we’re not together, I miss the man I call husband. 
Does he miss his wife? If so, which one?

377 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 2, 2023

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About the author

Jewel E. Ann

51 books8,284 followers
Jewel is a Wall Street Journal & USA Today best selling author with a quirky sense of humor. When she's not saving the planet one tree at a time, you can find her role modeling questionable behavior to her three boys, binge-watching Netflix with her husband, and writing mind-bending romance.

Her upcoming release is For Lucy, a contemporary romance/women's fiction.

Upcoming Projects: New duet in The Life Series fall/winter 2021.
Get a free book by subscribing to her newsletter!—> Sign up here!

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5 stars
2,659 (60%)
4 stars
1,181 (27%)
3 stars
410 (9%)
2 stars
87 (1%)
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30 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 768 reviews
Profile Image for ❥ KAT ❥ Kitty Kats Crazy About Books.
2,135 reviews7,335 followers
February 8, 2023
2e0pm6g thumbnail-IMG-0091-copy-3-5 MY REVIEW AND OTHERS can also be found on my blog:

ღ 🅱🅴🅵🅾🆁🅴 🆄🆂 ღ Is a full length romance book by author Jewel E. Ann. Spoken in 'Dual Perspectives.'

This authors books always have a way of creeping up on you, they grab you by the heart, they grab you by the feels, they grab you unawares.

'𝙈𝙮 𝙬𝙝𝙤𝙡𝙚 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙄'𝙫𝙚 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙙 𝙤𝙛 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚. 𝙄'𝙫𝙚 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙞𝙛𝙪𝙡 𝙬𝙚𝙙𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙨. 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙨𝙩 𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙚𝙨, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙥𝙞𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙥𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙮 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙩. 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙢. 𝙄'𝙫𝙚 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙗𝙤𝙪𝙩...𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙢.
𝙄𝙣𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙖𝙙 𝙄 𝙜𝙤𝙩 𝙖 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙨𝙚 𝙢𝙖𝙧𝙧𝙞𝙖𝙜𝙚, 𝙖 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙡𝙚𝙨𝙨 𝙢𝙖𝙧𝙧𝙞𝙖𝙜𝙚, 𝙘𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙥 𝙖𝙞𝙧𝙛𝙖𝙧𝙚, 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙝 𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙖 𝙂𝙚𝙩 𝙊𝙪𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝘿𝙚𝙗𝙩 𝙁𝙧𝙚𝙚 𝙘𝙖𝙧𝙙.'


I knew by the blurb that I’d be in for an emotional read, it wasn’t tissue reducing tears but it chocked me up a time or two, with this authors play on words, the heart grabbing, angsty stumbles as these characters waded through uncharted territory.

The too and fro, the push and pull, wrung havoc on my heart. This slow burn burnt me to the core, sensitively, beautifully written. From the highs to the lows this grabbed me from the get go, from the storyline to the characters, I never wanted it to end.

* Teaser used is off the authors facebook page *

Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,493 reviews3,630 followers
February 4, 2023
3 to 3.5 Stars (IDK🙈)

Opinion Breakdown
The Good: The premise. The unrequited love angst. The flow (up unit is the very end) and how it kept me fully engaged to where I stayed up way too late. The h.

The Not-So-Good: The H. While I understood who he was from the h's perspective and how she built him up to be this amazing man and husband, I never connected to him. We even got his POV, but I didn't feel like we really got deep into his character. I think he could've been done so much better.

The Bad: The last 10ish%. It was like it was in fast-forward or the author saw her word count and said "oh crap, I gotta wrap this up!" I went through the ups and downs of this couple and was totally invested to the point I had to get some tissues a few times and then that was it?! Basically *BIG SPOILER HERE* All this in the last 2 chapters/7%! It felt sloppy.

Overall: I went to sleep after finishing this in basically one sitting. It's no secret I'm a sucker for unrequited love because I just love the angst sometimes! But. I woke up kind of upset about this one. I love Ms. Ann's voice, I enjoy her characters, and she can really pack a punch in the feels for me. All that was still mostly true here, but that ending was just crappy and to the point that I can't justify to myself rating higher than I did because I know this author can do much better. I know I'm in the minority here, yet again!

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Emersyn and Zach's story. Emersyn is epileptic and living out of her car to afford her medicine when she gets a new job cleaning a couple's house. Zach is her new boss along with his wife, Suzanne, who is dying of cancer and Emersyn forms an instant bond with. Emersyn becomes an important person to the couple so when they find out she is homeless, they move her in. When tragedy strikes and the hits keep on coming, Zach and Emersyn enter a marriage of convenience that turns out to be inconvenient when Emersyn falls in love with her husband. There is a lot of unrequited love angst, some big life changes, a few sexy times...and they get a HEA ending.

Point Of View (POV): This alternated between Emersyn and Zach's POV.

Overall Pace of Story: Good until the last 10ish% where it felt extremely rushed. I never skimmed and I thought it flowed well otherwise.

Instalove: No

H (Hero) rating: 3 stars. Zach. While I appreciated how he loved and took care of others, I don't feel like I got to connect with his character. Even his POV sections left me a little confused as to why I was not connecting with him past the h's impression of him.

h (heroine) rating: 4 stars. Emersyn. I liked her. I appreciated her strength and how she kept going forward regardless of her hardships.

Sadness level: Moderate/high. I cried a good bit with this one and did need a few tissues.

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Alright. They have some tension, chemistry, and scenes -- but not very many scenes and not so much it takes away from the story.

Descriptive sex: Yes

OW (Other Woman)/OM (Other Man) drama: Yes

Sex scene with OW or OM: Not descriptive

Cheating: No

Separation: Yes

Possible Triggers: Yes

Closure: This ends with what I would call a HEA ending but I was not satisfied (mainly because the way it was presented)

Safety: This one is probably either Safe with exception or Not Safe for most safety gang readers depending on personal preferences
Profile Image for Jewel Ann.
Author 51 books8,284 followers
Currently reading
February 2, 2023
Releasing into KU February 2nd, 2023
✅Age Gap
✅Marriage of Convenience

❤️Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3G8SdKw
❤️Amazon Worldwide: https://books2read.com/u/mZ0xMB
👉ADD TO GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7...

I never saw him coming.
I didn’t know what would happen after my client found me sleeping in my car.
I’d been cleaning his house as his wife was dying.
I didn’t expect them to invite me to live with them.
I didn’t expect Suzie to become my lifeline—until she was gone.
I didn’t expect him to ask me to marry him when he found out I needed medical insurance.
I didn’t expect to fall in love with a grieving man.
There are so many reasons to keep my distance from Zach. Every tender moment secreted away.
When we’re not together, I miss the man I call husband.
Does he miss his wife? If so, which one?

Profile Image for moretomary.
32 reviews7,431 followers
February 16, 2023
Yeah, I’m crying.

First read from this author and my gosh I can’t wait to read her entire backlist. This book was powerful. As heartbreaking as it was, so much loss. It made be believe in true love.
Profile Image for Malene.
1,187 reviews510 followers
January 30, 2023
Before Us was one heck of an emotional story. From start to finish. It dealt with serious topics and they were handled with care.
This story was very character driven which I really enjoyed. I fell in love with all the characters - Emersyn, Zach and Suzanne.
The view on soulmates was used in Before Us and it was beautifully explored thanks to the characters.
I was invested in Em and Zach’s journey which was filled with heartbreak, laughs and love. It’s not an easy ride and I understood where both characters were coming from even though my emotions were put through the wringer. After slowly have build a strong connection Em and Zach’s separation sadly had the effect that I lost that feeling between them.

Jewel E. Ann delivered amazing dialogue and layered characters that I couldn’t help but enjoy. Before Us feels more like women’s fiction and still Ann excels in showing her strength in the storytelling and dialogue. A beautiful and emotional story that packs a punch.

*ARC courtesy of author in exchange for and honest review*
Profile Image for JAN.
1,108 reviews755 followers
February 4, 2023
DNF 60%

I thought this author was a safe bet after reading 13 books by her, most of them 5 stars.
But here I am, so disappointed that I can't finish it.
This is one of the most underwhelming love stories I have ever read.
I feel that they got together for the wrong reasons, more for convenience than anything else.
They have no chemistry, and I can't connect with them.
I am out.
Profile Image for Melanie (mells_view).
1,698 reviews323 followers
February 23, 2023
“If you can’t find a little humor in tragedy, life will kick your ass.”

I adored this book. I said to myself that I was going to let it marinate a bit before I wrote out my review, but instead I think I’m just going to keep it simple. Before Us was romantic, angsty, and emotional as hell. It’s a story about three people, two of them loving and losing someone they care for greatly and one of them loving and living as much as they can while they can. It’s a story about love and how it can be defined and exist in more than one way. About experiencing love in the ways that work for you and on your own timeline.

Before Us was just a fantastic story and so incredibly well written. It’s emotional and fun, with a little bit of heat from all the tension. I cried happy tears. I cried sad tears. I cried angry tears, but I also laughed and smiled and swooned and cheered for these characters. They were so so easy to root for.

It’s a fantastic story, and if you’re looking for something incredibly emotional but romantic and angsty as well, then Before Us is definitely a great choice.
CW/TW (will contain info that some consider spoilers): cancer, death of a spouse, neglectful parent, addict parent, death of a parent, on page assisted suicide, injury from medical emergency, discussions of past domestic abuse of side character

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Profile Image for Hulya Kara Yuksel.
884 reviews1,059 followers
January 24, 2023
Damn, this book was amazing. I LOVED it so, so much. It's one of my favorites now. :)

"Sometimes we start to falling in love with people before our hearts recognize what's happening."

***ARC provided by Valentine PR & Literary Management.

Expected publication: February 2nd 2023
Profile Image for Kristi.
530 reviews57 followers
February 2, 2023

Maybe it’s because I lost my daddy 2 months ago, maybe it’s because I’m losing my mama now, or maybe it’s because they had the most beautiful love story I’ve ever lived but this book BROKE me in the BEST way! It will go down as one of the most tragically beautiful stories I have ever read. This is a story of love, loss, unrequited love, second chances, finding yourself and your dreams, being COURAGEOUS, and grace!

When you read a Jewel E. Ann book you experience the JEA effect. This includes laughter, crying, wanting to jump in the book and beat the ever living crap out of someone and crying some more then in the end you are put back together better than you were before you started. She writes with an ease that makes you wonder if she even has difficulty while writing. This book was no different but it just ticked off every single box for me.

If you are looking for smutty hot romance this is not the book for you BUT YOU HAVE TO GIVE THIS ONE A CHANCE!

Without giving anything away I will say that Zach, the hero is definitely a hero albeit stupid at times! Our heroine, Emersyn is so heartbreaking but ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! One of the most selfless characters I’ve ever read. She is damaged but not in a way that has made her pitiful, she is damaged in a way that has made her strong and she was courageous way before she realized she was! She had never seen or known love and was introduced to the greatest of loves. She then embarks on the BEST life ever! The tragedy that brought them together was one of the saddest things I’ve ever read and equally one of the most beautiful.

The epilogue…*chefs kiss*😍
Y’all know I’m an epilogue reader and this one was off the charts AMAZEBALLS! Did my heart good!!!! I had quit crying and then I started right back!!!!

I was sobbing when it started, sobbing my heart out about chapter 3 through the middle of the book. Wanting to punch Zach a little over half way through, sobbing again, happy again and by the epilogue I was crying happy tears!

READ THE DAMN BOOK! It is a must!!!! Phenomenal story by a phenomenal author!!!!

*I was given an opportunity to read an early copy by the author*

Cheating none
Sexy Time⭐️⭐️(soooo not about this)
Epilogue ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Profile Image for Shabby  -BookBistroBlog.
1,424 reviews744 followers
January 30, 2023
This fascinating, astonishing, gripping story had me mesmerized from page 1 itself. It was and is, very difficult to get out of the hangover after I was done.
If you think you were a fan of Jewel before, then be prepared to take that Fandom to meteoric heights with this book.
She ploughs your heart.
No other word to describe it.
Takes a shovel, a bobcat, plough and rakes up the entire heart field. Then sows new emotions that you never knew existed before.

"Emotions are invisible. Artists take the intangible things in life and give them form—give them life."

She makes you fall in love with Zach and Suzie and Emersyn so hard that when the Wretched heart mulching book is done, you don't know what to do with yourself anymore.
It hurts to end a sentence, or turn the page because I don't know if Sunshine Suzie will be there or not.

It’s unimaginable.
It’s cruel.
It’s wrong.
It’s harrowing.
It’s tragic.


She slows the time in the Hays house to a crawl. A minute takes a page, a day takes a chapter to pass. I bore witness to their collective breaths held and released in a phew!
Thank god they survived this chapter.
Hold your breath for the next!!!


“At this point, it’s like trying to drive across the country on one tank of gas. "

Grief and sorrow and loss are in love triangle, till it seeps from my eyes. My marrow ached, bones hurt, my soul got crushed like Jeremy Renner under the snowcat.
And then Lo and Behold, Jewel turns right and takes the story with her. What seemed like a barren, bombed out story field ruins, suddenly sprouts of hope appear.
But the line between reality and wishful thinking starts to thin. Crossing over and back becomes an ordeal for both Emersyn & Zach. The ground beneath their feet shook violently and they spend the entire time trying to find their balance.

"I’m leaving my husband because I’m twenty-four and need to find my own life.
I’m leaving my husband because I owe it to my dreams to chase them until I catch them.
I’m leaving my husband because … he’s not real."


To say that jewel bewitched me with her prose prowess would be an understatement. She builds angst so high, it threatens to stop your heart. Then Jumpstart it by letting the hope shine through a sliver in cloudy sky.
Over and over again.
It carries a powerful message too. Life moves on.the world doesn't stop spinning after beloved leave us.

"Make plans, my love.
Life is too short. "

I adored every soul-wrecking moment of it, devouring it from cover-to-cover non stop. I've been an ardent fan of hers for so long, my list of Things I Love About Her is too long.....
5 stars for The Idea Of You
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Profile Image for Wil Loves Books!.
1,096 reviews459 followers
February 6, 2023
This book will touch your soul!!

I will probably fail at explaining what I loved about this book and why I loved this book. I will also probably ramble a lot, but yeah, by the last chapter, I was completely in love with this book. A book, I wasn’t supposed to love in the first place. I’ll get to that in a bit.

There are only a handful of authors that I religiously read or commit my time to properly read and review their books because I just love their words above all others, and Jewel E Ann is one of those. I’ve been privileged enough to read a lot of her books early (past 15 books before this one but who’s counting). I was not privileged enough this time, not gonna lie, it stung, but that’s a story for another day. I know I’m not entitled to a thing and at the end of the day, I’m just a loyal reader, stats aside.

Ok, so going back to the book. I read JEA’s books religiously without even reading the blurb. I never know what ride she’ll take me on, and trust me, her books are always a ride, always. And I always go in blind. So after started reading it and figured this was a “dead spouse book”, I’m not gonna lie. I wanted to quit it. I have a very complicated relationship with dead spouse books, for many reasons. I often feel like there’s an underlining second best feeling about them and most, are just not handled properly IMO. But when they are, they are without a doubt one of my favorite books to read. If you read my reviews regularly, I’ve made no secret about it, my friends are constantly giving me grief about it too, lol.

So, ok, this is a dead spouse book. And to top that, a dead spouse book where you meet the wife and fall in love with her as well. But I digress, to say that is to not give the book it’s due, it will not make it justice no matter how I try. This book is so much more, so much. This book spans years and it’s a big love story in different stages of these characters lives. It’s not just Emersyn’s and Zach’s love story, it’s Zach’s and Suzanne’s love story, it’s Emersyn’s and Suzanne’s love story as well. It’s a true soulmates story and how there’s not just one soulmate in one’s life. It’s how you navigate through the lowest of life and patiently find the highs again. Yes, there’s a dead wife, a marriage of convenience, a new wife. There’s kindness, there’s loss, there’s a lot of grief, a lot of navigating life and figuring out things, but so much love. So much love beyond our traditional ways of what it should be, or how we think it should be.

When reviewing books, I tend to stay away from rehashing the story, that’s what blurbs are for. I like to talk about how the book made me feel and how the story flowed for me. This for me, was a trust the process book. I had faith in Jewel and the journey she was taking me on. Personally, it is as if she knew all the things I was not fond of when it came to this trope and she addressed each one of them in the most amazing way. This book is also paced beautifully, it’s not rushed, it’s so real and so realistic, exactly how life is. It’s flawed, it’s not perfect, things can’t be rushed, feelings have to developed, doubt is ok and love after loss can happen and it can be real and powerful. And these characters conveyed so many real things in the most fantastic way, it just shook me to the core. It proves time and time again, why Jewel is and will always be one of my favorites. That ending was just so beautiful, I actually cried, and you know I’m not a crier. I was left wanting more of this couple, but completely convinced that their HEA was the real deal.

So, I absolutely recommend this one. It’s one of those books that will stay with you for a long time after. I just can’t wait for whatever Jewel will release next!!!
Profile Image for Lisa.
185 reviews33 followers
February 22, 2023
I love the widowed hero trope and marriage of convenience so ofcourse I was excited to read this. As soon as I started reading I became uninterested bc the heroine has a friendship with the hero’s wife before her death and shes like so nice makes me feel bad like why couldn’t she be a bitch its just depressing. My curious ass also read spoilers and I hate when the hero seems to still be grieving and calls the heroine by dead wife’s name etc which is mentioned happens in this book. So its a me thing this wasn’t gonna work out for me unfortunately.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for ✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰ .
2,138 reviews1,188 followers
March 1, 2023

Emersyn + Zach (+Suzie)

Emersyn's life is not anywhere near perfect at the moment. She is 23 years old. She dreams of being a travel blogger or to just make money with her camera.
The money she makes cleaning houses doesn't pay for an apartment, her medicine and student bills. So she's sleeping in her car at the moment.
That's where Zach finds her one day.
He's her boss.
She's cleaning for him and his dying wife. A woman who has become a great friend in the past few months. She spends more time with Suzie than she spends cleaning their house.
And then Suzie dies and things start to get really complicated.
The guy who just lost the love of his life? The guy you have a huge crush on?? That guy just asked you to marry him so that you can get health insurance. 🤯
But then you find your dream job and start traveling non-stop.

What will happen with Em + Zach?
Will we get a HEA?




Ugh. That was so heartbreaking!
Not 'only' Suzie dying and poor Zach having to go through all that. But also Em's sad life and all her problems. So sad and hopeless.
You'd think that there can't be a happy end for anyone.
But that's not the case.
It might take a little/long while but we'll get there. Probably. I'm not telling you! 🤣

This was a really sweet book. I loved reading it. Even through all these emotional moments... there are so many beautiful and funny and adorable moments too.

I wouldn't mind seeing this as a Netflix show/movie!

I might have wanted a tiny little bit more. More of the falling in love with each other. The first naked scene happened so weird and fast and I just didn't feel it at all in that moment. (Not to mention: naked happenings outside in an islamic country?🤔)
I wanted more time for those two and maybe a tiny little less time in the beginning with Suzie. Or maybe a two-book series with so much more in it.

But - I really loved reading this!!
I think I cried all through the beginning and the end and a bit through the middle parts too. LOL!

BEFORE US was such a beautiful + emotional love story. Two love stories really. It was all so very Heartbreaking. Hopeless. Sad. Amazing....
Run to your nearest book dealer for your own Zach - he's bookboyfriend/husband material NUMBER ONE!

💜 💜

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Profile Image for Kealyn.
200 reviews10 followers
March 12, 2023
Before Us is such a powerful and important read. I consumed this book as quickly as I could. And I will definitely reread it many times in the future.

The book starts with Emersyn, she lives inside of her car. Has a boyfriend who owns a gym, and she showers over there. She does has a job, she cleans houses. But because she has epilepsy she cannot afford a house because of the medical bills. One of her clients refers her to the Hays'. She thinks they are an older couple. But an older man in his 30's opens the door. His name is Zach and he is married to Suzanne. Who is slowly dying of cancer.

Suzy and Emersyn instantly connect. Suzy lives vicariously through Emersyn. And she supports Emersyon in following her dreams. When Zach finds out she lives inside of her car, him and Suzy offer her a room in the house. She accepts and grows even closer to both Suzy and Zach.
Emersyn grew up in a dysfunctional family. She never knew her father and her money sold her body to survive. And Em is in awe of the love Zach and Suzy share. She finally understand what true love is.

But Suzy also tells Em her point of view about soulmates. Before Zach Suzy loved Tara. With her entire being. She finds out through life that there is no such thing as soulmates. We aren't sole mates. We are able to find love again. Like she did with Zach.

I just love the kindness Suzy has. The immense love she has for Zach and Suzy.
The author nailed the feelings in this novel. You can slowly feel Suzy slip away. I got choked up so many times. I don't want to spoil to much. But it was so heartbreaking to read what happened, how it happened and how much love burst from these 3 characters.

And then the story continues with Zach and Emersyn. Em has devoloped a crush on Zach. And when he finds out she has epilepsy he marries her for his medical insurance. So she can get the the medical attention she needs. And that is what complicates their relationship.

This isn't a quick book about hey I love you and the other one chooses that person and that is that. No it's about finding love, feeling guilt, still love your wife, it's about being able to give what the other person needs. It's about devastation, pain and so much hurt. It's about taking care of the other one. And maybe even ignoring your own needs. I was so consumed with pain and grief the entire time. And I teared up multiple times. This book is just that good!

5 HUGE stars from me for this brilliant novel!!!

Profile Image for MELISSA *Mel Reader*.
1,335 reviews1,398 followers
February 6, 2023
5 Stars!
(ARC provided by Valentine PR)


Emersyn Clarke's life is currently chaotic and unpredictable. She's living out of her car while trying to make ends meet cleaning homes in Atlanta. She's an optimistic dreamer who continues to search for her place in the world, and thinks it's just a matter of time before things turn around for her. Then she crosses paths with a couple that become her lifeline. She's hired to clean the house for a man and his dying wife. They show her kindness and their unexpected friendship gives her hope for the future. Everything changes so fast, and suddenly she finds herself in love with a grieving man, who also happens to be her husband. Zach Hays married her to give health insurance, but she longs for something real. She'd always dreamed of one day having a husband, a home, and a family of her own. Has she found someone she can finally trust with her heart, or is he too busy living in the past to grab happiness?


Before Us by Jewel E. Ann is a marriage of convenience, age gap, boss/employee, friends to lovers romance about true love, loss, survival, heartbreak, compassion, vulnerability, friendship, beautiful connections, soulmates and second chances. It's a deeply emotional story that will make you feel everything!!! It's full of angst, humor, passion and one swoony man that will steal your heart. This is one of the most unique books I've ever read, and will definitely be in my top reads for 2023. It's one of those books that completely consumes you. I'll be thinking about these characters for a while. <333


Profile Image for Maren’s Reads.
326 reviews647 followers
February 2, 2023
𝗦𝘂𝗺𝗺𝗮𝗿𝘆: When the homeless Emersyn takes a weekly house cleaning position for a husband who’s wife is dying of cancer, she has no idea the profound role both Zach and his wife Suzie will have in changing the course of her life.

𝗧𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀: Every so often, you read a book that speaks to your soul - that challenges you, makes you think, makes you swoon, and that leaves it’s mark long after you’ve read the final page. This is one of those books.

First and foremost, the Jewel E. Ann has this way of creating the most lifelike and relatable characters. From the moment Emersyn verbally vomited all over her new boss, I knew I was going to love her. It was a joy to watch her emotional growth from beginning to end. She is a spitfire of a character and she shines on every page.

As much as I loved Emersyn, my heart belongs to Zach, the absolutely epitome of a book husband, not boyfriend. At any given moment I could feel his pain, the struggle within himself and how much he wanted to do what was right without always knowing what that was. So much of the sadness I felt while reading this story was his simply bleeding through the pages.

I found myself staying up way past my bedtime in order to know how this story ended. And it’s one I will be thinking about for a long time to come. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Read if you like:
•emotional reads
•friends to lovers
•platonic love
•age gap
•forbidden love
•pansexual rep

Thank you {partner} Valentine PR for my gifted e-book in exchange for my honest review. Available now on Kindle Unlimited or grab a copy of this gorgeous paperback today. I sure did!
Profile Image for warhawke.
1,283 reviews1,929 followers
February 27, 2023
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Type: Standalone
POV: First Person - Dual

Emersyn Clarke has always work hard to achieve her dream career. Unfortunately, life kept drowning her, and the latest predicament pulled her to rock bottom. Things started looking up when she was employed by the Hays. But neither of them has any ideas how their lives are about to change.

I chose this book with the expectations of being emotionally wrecked, and it certainly delivered. The first half was sad, while the second half was angsty, much to my delight. There were also funny moments to balance it all.

How is it possible to be so happy and so brokenhearted at the same time?

I enjoyed the overall story. However, I felt it tried to overcompensate with the epilogue, which was too much. I loved all the characters for their strengths and zest for life, but also glad they're not free of flaws. I also delighted by the different locations throughout the book, especially with how my country Malaysia played a significant part in the story.

If you plan to read the book and don't like being spoiled, I suggest skip reading the blurb because it practically spoiled the first half of the book.

🔸️✈️🔸️. . . (F)BR with Twinsie CC & Loyda . . .🔸️✈️🔸️

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Profile Image for D.L. Howe.
Author 10 books363 followers
February 4, 2023

A Place Without You has sat in my number one spot since the first time I read it three years ago. And this book? This book that ripped out my heart and stomped on it over and over again between soothing it with the most beautiful human emotions in between is better.

I know it’s premature to say that Before Us is my favorite book of 2023 but I can’t foresee anything tearing it from its place at the top.

In short this is a study on human emotions and the theory of a soulmate being a “sole” mate.

From the start you are introduced to Zach and his wife Suzanne. The love they have for each other is pure and strong and endless. Even though she’s dying you know that the love they share never will.

Emersyn fell in love with Suzanne first as they created a bond in a short time. For the first 35% of this book you’re gonna cry and it’ll be cathartic as all hell when Em and Zach form a friendship on the most unsteady ground.

Affection will grow slow but sure between them until you realize you can have several loves of your life.

This isn’t an easy road, it’s full of twists and turns and at times dead ends but you’ll never regret traversing it.
Profile Image for babygyalreadit.
331 reviews532 followers
February 25, 2023
This was so powerful & im forever altered by this story. I love this book so goddamn much I honestly do not have words to describe this feeling I have right now but THIS is why I read romance books.
Profile Image for Berry ♡ Nice.
538 reviews68 followers
February 1, 2023
What an emotional, deeply heartfelt, beautiful story.

I can honestly say I've read only a handful of stories like this one. Basically, it's a special one. I loved every page and fell in love at every turn.

I absolutely love JEA's writing style. I'm in awe that she gives us an emotional storyline with some humor mixed in. I like it. It's a great balance, keeps the story interesting, never a dull moment.

Zach 😭 ❤️ why is he sooo amazing!! Impossible NOT to fall in love with.

The journey taken by these characters is not an easy one but it is full of love, respect and patience.
Profile Image for Sarah.
716 reviews
February 4, 2023
Once again JEA has written a story that is both beautiful and bold. Grab your Kleenex, and prepare to fall hard for this hero, Zach, and these characters. The chemistry, connections, angst and emotion all combine for one epic love story.
February 11, 2023
4 ⭐'s

As always, Jewel E. Ann writes about different, unexpected circumstances and this takes the cake. The theme is not unheard of but the angst it makes you go through is worth it. (Yes, I cried.)

For the first forty percent or so, I felt Jewel E. Ann was sucking my soul out and I'm not a big fan. In fact, I hate those tropes and will shy away from them at all costs. Unhappily, I didn't know about this one.

Then, the story spins off as it should. However, everything I thought Zach might still feel was expressed and that killed me for Emersyn. So much so, that I don't think I could forgive him when he made the flip.

So, that's the reason for me only giving this book a four star. If you love angst, the unexpected, and a well written romance with amazing characters, you need to read this. And if you haven't read a Jewel E. Ann book, what are you waiting for?
Profile Image for Jenny Lovez Bookz.
421 reviews80 followers
February 8, 2023
I don't know what it is about JEA books that feel so therapeutic. This book is like a cleanser for your soul. This will make you laugh, cry, hurt, get angry and cry some more. Boy did this make me cry! And it's not just because of Suzanne, this book is just so real and honest. It took me a bit to really feel the connection between Zach & Emersyn, but once it gets going, the angst is intense. The scene on the hill in Malaysia was so heartbreaking! I give Emersyn credit for keeping it together cuz that would've ruined me! So many times I wanted Zach to just ask her to stay! That's probably where my 1 star goes that I took off. I wanted him to show her he wanted her and not be so ok whether she stayed or left. Other than that I really loved this!
Profile Image for Tiffany Johnson.
1,052 reviews24 followers
January 22, 2023
My God, this book is so special. The emotion it wrung from me is something other books haven't managed to do in a long time.

My reading mojo has been off the last few months. Cue being nervous to dive into a new book by one of my favorite authors because there has clearly been a ME problem with enjoying reading. Never fear, Jewel E Ann is here to make all that seem like a distant memory with her extraordinary ability to make me LIVE the words she writes on the page like it's my own tale unfolding.

This story is very emotional but I find those books often provide the biggest payout. Themes dealt with are loss/grieving, cancer, epilepsy, friendship and kindness, second chances, soulmates (sole,) courage, grace, and pursuing ones dreams.

Emersyn is the main heroine and man, did I love this girl. She hasn't had an easy life, coming from a home with an addict parent, living in her car on and off and just trying to "keep swimming" so that she doesn't drown. Mountains of debt from a medical diagnosis on top of student loans for her degree are about to swallow her. When she meets Zach and Suzie, following a clients referral to clean their home, you can almost feel that her life is about to change.

Suzie. What a special, special character! Reminiscent of Kate from Bright Side by Kim Holden, you just feel that some people were put on this planet to serve as angels for others. That is Suzie to Emersyn. The bond they form in the short time they have together is so beautiful and poignant.

Zach Hayes. Big swoony sigh. If Suzie is an angel, Zach is the next best person Emersyn could have encountered on her life path. He's patient, understanding, a sexy world traveling pilot, and above all he's committed to making sure Emersyn is able to start her best life. He's so committed he's willing to sacrifice his own wants and desires for another persons happy.

I cried sad tears, I cried happy tears, I felt the love and loss in my gut over and over again. When it was all over I had the biggest happy afterglow and isn't that one of the reasons why we read? To be touched by a fictional story and characters so much that it gives us our own "bounce?" Bravo JEA, this is a winner. For all of you who have discovered Colleen Hoover in the past 18 months, let me introduce you to Jewel E Ann. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Michelle.
2,942 reviews21 followers
January 22, 2023
Oh, wow. This book. The promise of angst lured me in and what a ride it was. Emersyn Clarke is my favorite kind of heroine. She doesn't always have the answers or know the perfect thing to do or say, so she often defaults to honesty with a side of rambling or a good deflection to ease the moment of intensity. Sure, she's also told a bunch of lies, but in her POV, they are justified to fit her narrative of maintaining independence and avoiding pity. And no matter how down on her luck she may be, she's going to fake it until she makes it with a smile on her face and an attitude of gratitude.

Zachary (Zach) Hays is truly the best kind of guy to fall in love with and to have his unconditional love in return. Gosh, so many tender feels in witnessing him with his wife Suzanne (Suzie) and everything they share between them and the ravaging grief afterwards. I really adored the friendship between Suzie and Emersyn, too. So that leaves the relationship between Zach and Emersyn in Suzie's absence. A charitable and generous offering that goes such a long way that Emersyn cannot refuse if she wants to pursue her dreams and achieve the life she's always imagined for her future. However, she hadn't accounted for how her heart would handle it all.

Jewel E Ann writes this story with such a brilliant spectrum of emotions and compassion that it's impossible to not love each of the characters and want to hug them, flaws and all. Finding love again after loss can be tricky to maneuver in a book so that all the characters are given their equal justice, but this one really does finesse each of those angles so well. There was something just so endearing and lovable about Emersyn, this girl who grew up with virtually nothing and appreciates all of the simple things that most others take for granted, yet she could still love and trust wholeheartedly. As for Zach, I could identify with his pain and conflict and it most certainly provided a perfect platform for angst and tension, which I absolutely devoured with each word on each page. I couldn’t even be mad at him because he made no promises of love, but still delivered in every way in Emerson’s love language. There's always witty and entertaining dialogue in JEA's books, but this one also had fantastic internal monologues as well as honest, boldfaced conversations in equal measures that deliver gut punches or squeezes to the heart. Loved this story and definitely recommend.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,306 reviews220 followers
March 23, 2023
4.5 stars.⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
What I love about Jewel E Ann is that no subject intimidates her.... most romance authors would have given this story a wide berth and probably a lot of readers will too.

Clearly, penning a story that involves a hero whose wife is dying from terminal cancer and a younger heroine that is cleaning houses to make ends meet and pay for her growing medical bills since her recent Epilepsy diagnosis will not be everyone's cup of tea.
However, I thought this was so beautifully written (though at times it was obviously really sad).
It was a delightful read...with 3 main characters that were genuinely wonderful people... it was hard not to care for or emotionally connect with any of them.
I would have to say that I think this book was a veritable triumph for the author and definitely for this reader.
Thanks again Jewel for such a thoughtful, tender and YES!! romantic read that totally touched my heart and soul. ❤️
Profile Image for Izzie d.
4,017 reviews262 followers
February 2, 2023
I really liked this book.
This author is a bit hit and miss for me, I'm not sure why, subject matter, the writing or my mood. I am a fickle character.

I thought it was a brave subject to broach, one that some readers may not feel works.

The heroine is a mess, her life is a disaster, no matter how hard she tries things keep her down.
She is living in her car, she has a recent diagnosis for epilepsy so is struggling to pay for any health care and has no family support.

The Hero hires her as his cleaner. His wife is terminal, cancer.

It helps that the wife has an ideology of 'soulmates' being not sole mates, so she has loved before her marriage and feels when she dies she will carry on her after life with her previous partner, who has died.
That's not to say she and the Hero don't love each other but it's her view on life/death.

The heroine is youngish, 20s so she is dating and having casual relationships with others during the book though at the start, she has a steady relationship of sorts with a guy, he's a gym owner and she keeps seeing him so she can use the gym showers, to be clean.

After the death of his wife, the Hero and heroine marry so they can get her health insurance.
The Hero is really conflicted about his feelings for her, she is in love with him.

They are a bit on/off due to her career she pursues involving travel.
He finally discovers he loves her but doesn't want to hold her back and feels she has fallen for the first person who is kind and good to her, he does have a point here.

They do get divorced and separate for a while, I found this a bit unnecessary.
Ends in a HEA.
Epilogue marriage and a child.

The Hero says he isn't dating or seeing anyone else though there was a conversation with his brother about calling Sadie, I wasn't sure if he did actually end up dating her or not.
No details.
Heroine mentions intimacy with others but no on page scenes other than with the Hero.

Teaser chapter for next book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sarah/DragonflyReads.
686 reviews160 followers
February 2, 2023
A true masterpiece. But do we expect anything less from Jewel E. Ann? Never.

Before Us takes you on a journey of friendship, loss, growth, and love. Fighting feelings that are undeniable. It’s a truly wonderful story and a 2023 must-read.
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