June 3, 2013

Review: Down London Road by Samantha Young

A few months ago, everyone was talking about a self-published book titled On Dublin Street (or at least everyone on my little corner of the blogosphere). The book became a huge success and soon was acquired by Penguin. I thought it was a compelling story, but not a unique or innovative one.  The sequel was still on my radar, though, and it became a must-read when I realized that the heroine would be the sexually forward, gold-digging friend from On Dublin Street.

Jo is a bartender whose goal in life is to marry a rich guy. Her current boyfriend certainly fits the requirements, so she pampers him and does everything he wants, even if that means not being herself. But before you get excited thinking that we’re finally getting a heroine that completely breaks the mold, I should tell you that the reason why she acts that way is because she has to take care of her teenage brother and their abusive, alcoholic mother. So nope, she’s not materialistic or self-absorbed; she’s just damaged and filled with a bunch of secret pains. Of course she is.

One night, her rich boyfriend takes her to an art function where she meets brooding Cam. Sparks fly immediately, but he acts like a judgmental ass and insults her. That’s not enough to stop her from finding him a job, though, and they end up working at the same bar. It takes a while for Cam to realize there’s more to Jo than meets the eye, but when he does, well, they still can’t do anything about their attraction, because both have partners. So they become friends instead. And this is why the book is worth reading, because as predictable and cliché it sounds, the main characters have to develop a relationship before they get to the romance.

The last time I read a book with a similar mother, I was angry and disappointed, and this book pretty much goes there yet again. But in this case the mother is more than a plot point. Now, don’t get me wrong, this woman isn’t a complex character, and pretty much behaves like any other similar stereotypical character. However, her actions and presence do have direct consequences on Jo, and dealing with those lasting issues is the central part of the story, even more so than the actual romance. On second thought, the mother is a plot point, and her portrayal is more than problematic, but the end result was highly effective and not as offensive as in other books. Or maybe I’m just making excuses to justify how much I enjoyed the book.

I liked Jo a lot. Here we have this character so desperate to find security that she will sacrifice her personality and personal happiness to be with men who will provide that support. Yet when her best friend offers her a stable job, she’s unable to accept it. I spent most of the book thinking she was an idiot, until I realized that she couldn’t break the pattern not because she was stubborn or dumb, but because she was paralyzed by her insecurities. And throughout the book we see her deal with it and discover just how valuable she is. Her relationship with Cam is a big part of that, but her newfound self-respect doesn’t depend on the romance, so when the big misunderstanding happens, she’s able to put herself first.

The book is told in 1st person POV, so we only get Jo's perspective, but Cam was far from a cypher. He had a strong presence and was quite open. There’s a heavy dose of insta-lust, but it slowly transforms into friendship and then love, which makes this a surprisingly slow-building romance. I also appreciate the fact that Cam was far from rich, which is a huge change from the previous book. He was still pretty much an alpha, thought, but he had it (mostly) under control.

On London Road is a highly readable, intensely emotional book. It’s far from perfect, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t put it down.

Review by Brie
Grade: 4
Sensuality: McSteamy
Purchase: Amazon 

Johanna Walker is used to taking charge. But she’s about to meet someone who will make her lose control....It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets …even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.
Down London Road by Samantha Young
NAL. May 7, 2013


  1. I felt Jo was quite flawed..and I appreciated that. I embraced her situation with her mother and her fear of losing her brother more than you did I think.

    I liked this one better than Dublin - I thought Jo and Cam's relationship was more complex. Oddly enough - I didn't like the heroine from Dublin in this one. LOL. She got on my nerves.

    1. This book was way better than On Dublin, IMO. It had more interesting and complex characters, the romance was more believable, the dynamic between Cam and Jo was more compelling and authentic. I liked it a lot. I'm really looking forward to reading her next book, because this one convinced me that she was an author to watch.

    2. You've totally encapsulated how I feel about Young as an author. By tackling a character like Jo, who on the surface seems unlikeable, and making her into someone we value and cheer for, shows her abilities as an author.

      This was a much different story that the first one and more challenging. I liked it very much and am looking forward to her next novel.

  2. So agree with you here, Brie. I thought ODS was worth reading but nothing groundbreaking.

    This one, on the other hand, just completely absorbed me. I was such a sucker for Jo. Would have stuck with her through whatever was required.

    Also loved that Cam wasn't rich, that money was such an issue in the book (as it is in real life).

  3. I'm glad I read this review, and the comments. I read On Dublin Street to find out what all the fuss was about when it came out. I liked it, but not so much I would have looked out especially for the sequel. A "highly readable, intensely emotional" book sounds right up my street, though. (And I honestly put that sentence down before I realised it was a pun! :) )


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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.