An Unconventional Love Story: Before Ever After


It’s been a while since I’ve been so engrossed in a novel. When I started reading Samantha Sotto’s “Before Ever After”, I couldn’t help but go on and continue flipping the pages until I reached the ending. At first, I thought it was one of those typical love stories, judging from the book’s dainty cover. But it was far from typical; it was imaginative, brilliant and written with a good dose of wit and humor. I’m glad that Samantha Sotto swept me off my bookish feet and carried me into the world of Max and Shelley.

The Background

It’s been three years since Shelley’s husband died. Max died in a terrorist bombing in Madrid, leaving Shelley a young widow with a fragmented future. Shelley’s recovery had been slow but steady until an unexpected visit turned her world upside down. One mundane morning, a visitor who looks like Max appeared on her doorstep claiming to be Max’s grandson. It would’ve been okay if Paolo was not 32 years old—the same age as Max. This disclosure made Shelley question everything she knew and believed about her own husband.

The Journey Begins

Paolo began telling Shelley how much he loved his Nono, his term of endearment to his grandfather Max. So when he saw Max’s photo in a website, he knew that he had to look for him to find the answers he needed. He prodded Shelley to look at the site for herself, and when she did she knew that she had to pack her bags and leave for Boracay, Philippines where her supposedly dead husband was living.

During the flight from London to Manila, Paolo and Shelley started sharing stories about Max. Shelley recalled the backpacking Euro trip she joined in where she met the eccentric charming tour guide, Max. It was in this trip where Max and Shelley found each other in the midst of the historic places of Austria, Slovenia, and other cobble-stoned pavements. Shelley revisited the stories that Max related in each mysterious tourist spot, realizing through Paolo’s affirmations that Max was actually part of the story. He was not merely a storyteller; he was the protagonist in the pages of history he was retelling.

The Journey Ends

Shelley continued her quest for answers and in the process discovered truths that are too difficult to comprehend yet too real to deny. The novel ends in a way that will surprise readers. It’s not the conventional ending that the already captivated audience would’ve wanted (count me in, too). But I guess that’s the beauty of it. With its unpredictability comes the preservation of the magic that the story created even if you already turned the last page. 🙂

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11 thoughts on “An Unconventional Love Story: Before Ever After

  1. Patty says:

    Ooh this sounds like a good book! Love your take on it. I didn’t know you have another blog for books ❤

  2. Thanks, Patty! 🙂 It really is good! 🙂 Just had it up 2 days ago. Haha! I’m trying to be more organized with my blogging, moving stuff and all. Teehee! 🙂

  3. Hi Ivy! We’re happy to let you know that we’ve listed The Book Vineyard in the list of Pinoy book blogs at Read Philippines.com. We’d love to have you join our growing community of Pinoy readers! 😀

  4. Tina says:

    Hey, Ives! You’d be interested to know (if you haven’t already figured it out) that Samantha Sotto’s 100% Pinoy and she wrote that book here in the Philippines by killing time in Starbucks while waiting to pick up her kids from school. 🙂

    • Hi, Tins! Yes, I knooow! 🙂 I met her in person when she gave a talk in ISM about how she got published. She’s super nice and humble! She inspired me to write a book, too! Haha! Maybe someday I’ll do just that 🙂

      • Tina says:

        Awesome! Go, Ives! If she can do it, so can you! Hopefully I’ll have the guts to do the same years down the road. 😀

  5. I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy I found this in my hunt for something regarding this.

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