The”Over Duet” which consists of Low over High and Ever over After was sitting on my kindle for what it seems like forever. I honestly don’t know why I waited so long to pick those books up because I really enjoyed them.
Low Over High begins with an angsty, mysterious, yet powerful prologue of the main character Marlo Rivers (a part of the prologue is also the blurb of the novel). She talks about her cynical personality and her non-belief in hope and faith in humankind because those are only cliches “to keep the dreamers dreaming.” Marlo was not always like that, circumstances in her past made her that way. She tried to run from it for the last eight years but the past has a way of catching up and for Marlo it is in form of a crumpled note left on her porch.
After reading the prologue, I was left with many questions. The unpredictability and the mysterious blurb made me eager to find out more about Marlo and her story. If main characters have baggage from their past, those storylines usually appear in form of short flashbacks, letters or whole chapters that are scattered all over the book. Although those options are the common way of doing it, J.A. DeRouen went with something completely different yet brilliant: she made the entire novel about the past. Marlo’s past is so complex and so many things happen in her life, there was no way it would’ve fit in letters or flashbacks.
It’s safe to say that past-Marlo, compared to the Marlo the reader met in the prologue, is a totally different person. She’s cheery, feisty and definitely has a quick tongue. She’s also great at making friends and spoiling them with self-made cupcake creations.
The person Marlo mentions as “who” in the blurb as well as in the prologue is Everett Montgomery. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Everett is a mystery throughout the entire novel. As a reader you just want to know more about this guy and what is going on in his life. But the reader gets only a snippet here and there and that makes you want read more and more in hope of getting another snippet. I had so many theories in my head about Everett but nothing came close to the actual happenings.
“Last night was…”
“Everything,” I blurt out before my mind can stop my mouth.
He chuckles softly. “Exactly. It was every single thing. And so are you, Low. I just… I want you to know that.”
Have you guys been to New Orleans yet? If you haven’t, maybe you will after reading Low Over High because the novel is set directly in the infamous French Quarter. As much as I enjoy settings in NYC, Boston or in a charming small-town in Texas, I was really excited that this story was set in NOLA. I visited New Orleans exactly three years ago in June 2014 and I could picture the sights, streets and places perfectly.
I really enjoyed reading this Young Adult part of the “Over Duet”. And although it had fun, lovely and a few cheesy parts, Low Over High also deals with some heavy subject matter which left me really upset toward the end.
Ever Over After, the second novel in this duet, is unlike its predecessor, set in the present. It focuses on Everett trying to make amends with Marlo since he messed up his chances with her eight years ago. He wants to fix what he has broken and he won’t shy away from Marlo’s rejection.
The prologue of Ever Over After is still set in the past and starts right off where Low Over High ended. Chapter one, however, is eight years forward and set in the present day. The reader finally learned what happened all those years ago to Marlo. I really enjoyed how DeRouen linked the prologue of Low Over High with chapter one in Ever Over After. With that one tiny detail, you notice how well thought out those books are.
Marlo is a totally changed person: she has new friends, a rewarding job (and I never would’ve seen her pursuing it after getting to know her in Low Over High) and does volunteer work during her free time. I was positively surprised by all of it, especially after learning her reasons for it. The setting of the storyline has changed too. Marlo does not live in crazy New Orleans anymore. She now lives in Providence, Louisiana.
But not only Marlo has changed in those eight years, Everett has too. It was a relief to see him doing better than ever, although it was hard to imagine, after seeing him in Low Over High.
I’ve pushed away and fought against every single thing in my life. I’ve finally found the person I want to fight for, and you think I’m going to just walk away? I’m a better man when I’m loving you. I don’t think I can stop, even if you begged me to.
One of my favorite secondary characters of this duet was Jeb. He makes appearances in both books and you can’t do anything but love him. You mostly get to see Jeb’s funny and flirty side but conversations between him and Everett let the reader know that he also has a troubled and haunted side. Unfortunately, the reader doesn’t learn much more than what is addressed in the conversations and you can’t help but want to know more. I hope DeRouen decides to give him his own book one day because his character has so much potential.
Like the past storyline, the present storyline also had an unpredictability about it. After the ending of Low Over High, the story could have gone anywhere and nowhere. I enjoyed how it turned out, although I was a little put off by Marlo and Everett’s relationship after their first few encounters. Despite that, it was a worthy conclusion and had everything from old feelings, heartache and most of all love.
J.A. DeRouen created a very unique way of telling a second chance love story with the “Over Duet“. While Low Over High focused solely on the past, Ever Over After focused on the present events only. The genre switch from Young Adult (Low Over High) to New Adult/Contemporary Romance (Ever Over After) was an interesting concept I liked very much also. Even the book titles fit the story to a T.
Those books definitely won’t be the last books I read from this author. I can’t wait to dive into the “Over” series and find out more about Marlo’s friends from Providence, LA.