Review: First & Then

First & ThenEmma Mills, First & Then

Devon Tennyson is a high school senior who couldn’t be more ordinary. She’s a decent but not exceptional student; she’s an only child with a stable home life; and she has no idea what she wants to do after graduation. For now, she’s happy to ignore the future and concentrate on having fun with her best friend Cas, who she’s hoping will finally notice her as more than just a friend. But when Devon’s freshman cousin Foster moves in with her family, her life slowly begins to change. Foster is strange and socially awkward, but while Devon finds him annoying at first, she eventually becomes very protective of him. Foster also introduces Devon to star quarterback Ezra Lynley, who’s recently transferred to their high school. Ezra is handsome, popular, and a shoo-in for a football scholarship, so Devon immediately assumes he’s an arrogant jerk. But the more she gets to know Ezra, the more she realizes that her first impression may not have been justified.

I’d been dying to read this book ever since I saw it promoted as “Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights.” I think that’s a fair comparison, in the sense that if you like those two things, you’ll probably like this book as well. Devon is a refreshingly ordinary heroine, and I enjoyed her wry, self-deprecating voice. I also really loved the progression of her relationship with Foster from distant cousins to (essentially) brother and sister. The romance with Ezra was nicely developed (the slowest of slow burns), but for some reason I didn’t find it especially compelling. Maybe that’s the reason I didn’t quite fall in love with this book the way I wanted to. But I do love the fact that Devon’s relationships with Foster and Ezra also open her up to other friendships. Initially, Devon’s only friend is Cas, and she’s so invested in him that she doesn’t really pay attention to anyone else. But throughout the course of the novel, she realizes that she’s been a bit self-absorbed and makes more of an effort to reach out to other people. So overall, I’m glad this book wasn’t just about the romance, but I still wish I’d felt a little more of the connection between Devon and Ezra.

N.B. An ARC of this book was graciously provided by the publisher. Publication date is October 13, 2015.

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