Model Finley needs to shed her ‘good girl’ image, so she takes in mysterious newcomer Eddie for a one night stand. But the two can’t seem to stay away from each other, and as their relationship grows, Eddie’s secrets threaten to tear them apart.
This book straddles the line between YA and NA. The characters are eighteen but are facing some Very Grown Up Problems as well as some regular teen issues such as work and family. Finley’s trying to change her image, so she keeps dismissing Eddie – mostly as shallow and arrogant, although she later admits he’s never displayed either of those properties. Eddie just keeps surprising her, latching on to her tragedy-laced family and bonding with her adorable twin brothers. Finley may be a model but her first love is dance, and she I slowly reintroduced to that world through her modelling work. Eddie, meanwhile, has to deal with a family that has disowned him for a mistake he made before the book started.
I quite liked both Finley and Eddie. I vaguely remember Finley from the Eve and Adam’s story where she did a shoot with Adam. It was nice to see this whole developed backstory for her and I loved her love of dance and how her uniqueness in being a model and the daughter of a dancer really made her shine when the lights were fixed on her just so. I loved her developing friendship with Eve and her strong family ties.
Despite Finley trying to frame Eddie as a useless lump of a boy, I quickly grew to like him as he ingratiated his way into Finley’s life. I liked how he stood up for her brothers and even developed a bond with her dad. I didn’t expect the twist that I won’t spoil – I thought the actions he was making up for were something else, so I was pleasantly surprised at his actions throughout the book. I will just say that I didn’t like that he fought so hard for his beliefs throughout the book only to end up compromising them at the end. While it seems Finley may have also compromised on her goals, I think hers made more sense.
I liked the shifting points of view. It was nice to see both characters from each other’s perspectives. The writing was quite contemporary and I liked the kind of behind-the-scenes stuff of the modelling world, too. I think my favourite part was when Eve was photographing Finlay and Eddie. It’s not easy to use words to describe the beauty in professional photography, but I got very strong mental images of the photographs and I’d really love to see someone recreate them.
The pacing was really good, I felt like I reached halfway almost without noticing. It dropped off a little in the second half of the book once we found out Eddie’s secret, and to be honest it didn’t quite pick back up to its original pace. I found the climax a little underwhelming and I’ve already mentioned I wasn’t satisfied with Eddie’s final decision.
Similar to Anything to Have You by Paige Harbison, I don’t quite get the reference of the title. You Before Anyone Else – neither Finley nor Eddie make this promise to anyone: they don’t put each other first, and they don’t put their families first. They really do what is best for themselves, with little sacrifice. However, I love these modelling books! So long as Cross and Perini keep writing them, I’ll keep reading them.