One of my most anticipated books last November was Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan, and I was excited to get a hardcover version from Book of the Month. This February, I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day for the whole month, at least in terms of the books I was reading. My first time reading only romances for a whole month! Before I Let Go was a beautiful way to close out the season of love.
Yasmen and Josiah were married for more than a decade, sharing two kids and a successful business. But after a pair of tragedies struck—first the death of a close relative, then the loss of their unborn third child—a chasm grew between them. They divorced, and for the past two years, have juggled co-parenting their two kids and running their restaurant business despite the separation. Yasmen and Josiah are both trying to move on, but neither is able to forget what they once shared. Was their divorce a mistake? Is it too late to rekindle their connection and find their happily ever after with each other after all?
In the past few years, I’ve read a ton of romance novels, but this is my first time reading about a divorced couple finding their way back to each other. It’s a different take on the second-chance romance, made even more impactful in the light of all this couple shared and continues to share. Before I Let Go is a heavy, emotional book that touches on difficult themes (pregnancy loss, grief and depression, suicidal ideation, and more). It’s also a beautiful story of a fractured family learning to love again and of two parents rekindling what they once had, even after so much tragedy.
One thing I love about Before I Let Go is just how full it feels. Early on, we meet Yasmen and Josiah nearly two years after the divorce. They co-parent their two kids, 13-year-old Deja and 10-year-old Kassim. We see how the kids are doing at school, what their friends are like, and how they each get along with their two parents. Yasmen and Deja, in particular, have a strained mother-daughter relationship. On top of that, Josiah and Yasmen still run their restaurant, with its own ups and downs and growth potential. Yasmen has two best friends (spoiler: each will get her own book later in this series!) and Josiah is just starting to date again. There’s a lot going on, making this modern family feel completely real.
The chapters jump back and forth between focusing on Yasmen or Josiah; some of Josiah’s chapters also give insight into their shared past, including how everything fell apart. From the beginning, we know that their beloved Aunt Byrd died, and right after, Yasmen lost her baby shortly before he was due. It’s only later that the darker details emerge. Make sure you have tissues nearby, because if you’re like me, you’ll cry a lot.
Before I Let Go doesn’t shy away from the more difficult themes. It offers an honest portrayal of grief and deep depression, the kind that makes everything else feel impossible Yasmen later reveals how she felt suicidal in the aftermath of their two losses. But the novel also depicts how therapy can help. Yasmen is open about how much it aided her, and she encourages it with her ex and their kids… even if it takes Josiah to come around to it.
Even with all the sadness, Before I Let Go also balances it out with some levity. These characters still have joys and wins, and for all the hardships they face, they’re in a place to move forward and find happiness again. It may take some jealousy and shared successes to get them together, but the road back to each other is unfolding with each day.
Yasmen and Josiah have a hard-earned and believable romance. It’s tentative and sweet and wholesome. I like that they always got along, even when separated; it makes their eventual reunion that much stronger. These two truly make sense together. They’re also pretty steamy! They’re not just 30- or 40-something parents; they’ve still got it going on!
From the romance to the family relationships, from running the restaurant to making time for friends and dating, Before I Let Go offers up a nuanced and realistic depiction of a family torn apart and putting themselves back together again. There are a lot of themes and plot points, but it never feels like too much; everything gets the space it needs and feels resolved by the end. I loved seeing Josiah and Yasmen fall in love again and seeing the whole family emerge stronger than ever.
Before I Let Go is one of the most emotionally connective stories I’ve ever read. It’s tender and raw, about family dynamics and mental health and love even in the face of tragedy. I felt for all the characters, cried several times, and felt hopeful and happy by the end. This is a superb romance and a beautiful story of family. I can hardly wait to read the rest of the Skyland series, with book two focusing on Soledad and book three going to Hendrix.
Get the Book
You can buy Before I Let Go here – it’s available as a hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
|Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan|
|Number of Pages||392|
|Format I Read||Hardcover (BOTM)|
|Original Publication Date||November 2022|
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 is 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?
About the Author
A RITA® and Audie® Award winner, USA Today bestselling author Kennedy Ryan writes for women from all walks of life, empowering them and placing them firmly at the center of each story and in charge of their own destinies. Her heroes respect, cherish, and lose their minds for the women who capture their hearts. Kennedy and her writings have been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, TIME, O magazine, and many others. She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son.
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