Review: Next to Never by Penelope Douglas

Reviewed by Joanna

This is a warm up book to get us ready for the next generation of the sexy stars of the Fall Away series. Quinn is the much younger sister of Jared, Madoc and Jax, and lives under a regime of stifling overprotectiveness (from these guys? Can you imagine them letting a guy near her?). This seventeen-year-old is just waiting to fledge, and she knows the direction she wants to fly. Three years ago, family friend Lucas left town, taking her heart with him. He was fond of her, but at twenty-six they were never a match. He went to work in Dubai, and they lost contact.

One day a romance book turns up in the mail. Quinn has no idea who sent it, but as she sits down to read, this book shifts to allow us, the reader, to read an alternate romance through her eyes. Meta? Kinda.

It’s quite the romance. Fans of the series will squeal when they realize who Kat and Jase, the in-book protagonists, are, and what’s going on with their story. It’s basically rich boy with education and means meets a poor girl with fire and desire. Hell yeaz, except he’s married and if you’ve read the series you know where it goes for them. Their passionate, destructive and tragic tale dances through the seams of the Fall Away series to date (Bully is the start of this series), summarizing the origins of the myriad of characters and sort-of bringing the reader up to speed.

Saying that, I’m not convinced a new reader would find it easy navigating the cast of a thousand. We’ve got the six main characters, now grown up and with all their kids and family members, the historic lookback at some of these people, plus the complicated way in which they are related.

Aside from the story Quinn is reading – which is the biggest chunk of the book – there’s another romance going on in the further establishing of Dylan, Kade and Hunter’s love triangle (three of the next generation – Kade and Hunter are twins who love the same girl and I can’t even tell you how excited I am to get their book). Then Quinn’s own romance is only in her head. In the blurb, Douglas warns that this book isn’t Quinn’s HEA. She has another full length novel coming. Huh, I thought. So what’s the point of the teaser?

There are parallels, I think, between the message the in-book romance was giving and the situation Quinn is in – loving an older man, and the impact of family on your life. Then there’s the message the sender of the book was trying to give Quinn –a lesson which permits her independence. Necessary for this sheltered teen.

I really enjoyed the first half of the stories, and the way the stories played off against one another, and how they set me up for the new series currently being written. After that I though the mixing in of the whole clan got a little messy. Doesn’t much matter, I’m still going to devour each and every one of these as they come out.

The new series is kicking off a year from now, so good times ahead, Fall Away folks.

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

Next to Never
by Penelope Douglas
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Penguin

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