This page is about the Before… and After series, coming out by Dreamspinner Press.
All these standalone stories are novella-sized, and the genres are friends-to-lovers, slice-of-life,
and new adult. They focus on young men in high school or college, learning to love their best friend.
This novella, After the Romance Novel, released on Feb 22, 2017, and it’s a standalone contemporary M/M novella. It’s readily available in e-book formats by Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
Here’s the blurb:
"Romance novels always end with a happy ever after. Right?
Evan and Adam are best friends, but they don’t know everything about each other. For one thing, Adam doesn’t know Evan writes and publishes gay romance novels until he discovers one while snooping on Evan’s laptop.
This revelation changes their relationship in ways neither could’ve imagined. Adam’s reaction to reading Evan’s stories is not what he expected, nor is the new way he’s looking at his lifelong pal. After all, Adam is straight, or so he’s always thought, and that is what Evan believes about Adam as well.
When Evan admits he might be bisexual, Adam suggests he try dating girls to find out for sure, but when Evan follows his advice, Adam is caught off guard by his feelings of jealousy. And when the date proves Evan isn’t bisexual, but gay, Evan’s request that Adam find him a guy might be the last straw.
How can Adam admit he wants that guy to be him? His epiphany will either end their relationship—or change it into something wonderful in their very own friends-to-lovers romance."
5 Stars by Gay Book Reviews:
"This was a wonderful short story about two young men coming into their own. It is about friendship. It is about sticking by each other through thick and thin. It is about forgiveness when one messes up. And most of all it is about acceptance and love. That is the reason that I say this book is so refreshing. I really enjoyed this read and hunk others will feel the same way."
5 Stars by MM Good Book Reviews:
"Oh WOW. I absolutely love Friends to Lovers stories and this author nailed it for me. I’ve never read from this author before, but if all of her books are like this. I’ll be reading more of her works. From beginning to end, she was consistent with her story line and it didn’t veer off into anything else, but the two main characters. -- I would definitely recommend this light short story for anyone that is looking for friends to lover’s stories."
4 Stars by OptimuMM Book Blog:
"For a short book, the plot and characters are well developed, and the sex is steamy! The ending ties up the plot lines well -- I enjoyed the book a lot, and I immediately empathized with both Adam and Evan. It was easy to understand their emotional confusion and motivation. The plot is original, and it really works with the characters which isn’t easy in a book of this length, credit to the author."
4 Stars by Divine Magazine:
"A sweet angst free story about to young men who find their way to each others heart. Short but nice read, somewhat adorable to watch them experiment with their strong feelings and how they become lovers. Written in a really lovely positive way a book which is enjoyable to read."
4 Stars by Rainbow Book Reviews:
"This is an endearing friends-to-lovers story. -- It does remind me of how much angst there is in a teenager's life and how almost everything is the end of the world, as well as the danger of assuming too much. If you like a short, cute story involving two young men as they explore their sexuality, you may enjoy this one. Thanks, Susan, for the reminder of high school days."
4 Stars by Bayou Book Junkie:
"A really sweet, 'open-thinking' novella of best friends to lovers. Had me feeling warm and fuzzy. -- This is a very short read that needs no intro, as the author sets the scene really well -- I loved how the author both kept it realistic in the way that the secret coming out into the open changed their lives, their friendship, their thinking and their feelings. I loved how mature these kids were at 17 -- had me smiling and envisioning them together, living their lives and their HEA."
4 Stars by Boy Meets Boy Reviews:
"I loved that the boys really were best friends and knew one another and yet, this step from friends to boyfriends, this step from buddies to lovers was one they wanted to get right regardless of how badly they wanted to get it on. This was super sweet and even sexy at the end for a YA novel, but with Evan having all that research experience writing his novels and all the research that Adam began doing, it was only inevitable that they would end up tangled in the sheets heading toward an optimistic HEA. -- If the next books are as sweet as this? I’m in."
4 Stars by Gay Book Reviews:
"While only 65 pages, this novella does an admirable job of portraying young / first love, in all its glory and just plain awfulness and angst. -- Laine captures that feeling of heartbreak when you put your heart out there and it’s not accepted, or the gesture is misunderstood. -- really shows the chemistry and the possibilities this relationship holds as it moves from best friends to real love with trust, honesty and acceptance. A solid 4 stars for After the Romance Novel."
This novella, Kissing Lessons, released on Apr 26, 2017, and it’s a standalone contemporary M/M novella. It’s readily available in e-book formats by Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
Here’s the blurb:
"A kiss is just a kiss. It doesn’t have to mean anything. Does it?
At seventeen, Merry’s never been kissed. Since he doesn’t want to disappoint his prom date, he asks his more experienced best friend, Boone, for some pointers. Surprisingly, Boone agrees to give him a hands-on lesson.
But they have no idea what they’re getting into.
They explore hundreds of ways to make out, but somehow it isn’t enough. A week later, they’re back together for another session. This time things go further than either of them planned, and their relationship becomes awkward and uncomfortable.
Have they learned enough to salvage their friendship and help it evolve? Their lessons have come to an end. They can either part ways forever… or share a true love’s kiss."
5 Kissing Stars by Wicked Reads:
"Jesus. I am so glad I was alone as I read this novella. My eyes were popping out of my skull and I'm still wearing a perma-blush as I type out this review. -- The novella was sweet, and adorable, and hotter than Hades. For something so short, it didn't have a feeling of insta-love/lust, and had one helluva tension-filled buildup. -- *fans self* Yeah, for something so innocent, Kissing Lessons was a scorching read."
5 Stars by Bayou Book Junkie:
"This might be a YA novel, but it's stunning in its beauty, in its innocence, in its romance. Loved, loved, loved this. So, this is short and quite sweet and rather innocent, as well as being very romantic. I loved it."
5 Stars by Jessie G Books:
"I loved this novella. LOVED it. The well-developed characters, their friendship, the actual lessons. Completely full of smiles and sweet happiness."
5 Stars by OptimuMM Blog:
"This is the first time that I have read a book by Susan Laine, but it definitely won’t be the last. -- I loved the cover for the book, and the blurb for the book was catchy and made me want to read it. And I wasn’t disappointed in what I read. The book’s pretty steamy with lots of hot kissing scenes and a little bit more. It’s the perfect length for reading just before bed but don’t be expected to be able to sleep afterward."
4.5 Stars by Boy Meets Boy Reviews:
"This story goes to show you don’t need full on penetrative sex to make a story romantic nor sexy. This was so ridiculously sexy and it was just kissing… everywhere. -- this is one hell of a hot story -- This was deliciously sweet and sexy. -- Laine’s Before and After series is becoming one that I am looking forward to and can’t wait to see if the author offers up more stories and where she takes the next hopefully pair of best friends to lovers."
4.5 Stars by The Blogger Girls:
"What a pleasant surprise this was! -- The kissing is both sweet and surprisingly erotic (without being weird). I thought the author did a great job of managing the right amount of heat for the age without making me feel like “oh yeah, this is a YA story”. I LOVED that they discussed how they felt and we didn’t have to go through a “Big Misunderstanding” about things. -- I really, really enjoyed this and recommend it highly."
4 Stars by The Romance Reviews:
"KISSING LESSONS is a great book that combines beautifully sweetness and steam. -- I really loved this book. It had a simple plot, but very enjoyable. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into when I start reading, but I certainly wasn't prepared for such a steamy read. -- Overall this was a great book that explores beautifully how a sensual experience kissing could be."
This novella, Train To Somewhere, released on Oct 18, 2017, and it’s a standalone contemporary M/M novella. It’s readily available in e-book formats by Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
Here’s the blurb:
"It was only a game. Wasn’t it?
At a party one night, Charlie Dean’s childhood friend Will Tucker accepts a dare and dresses up as a girl: clothes, hair, makeup. Seeing Will that way incites a riot of confused emotions in Charlie—and he responds by lashing out. He never meant to hurt Will, and now he must do some serious damage control.
During a school trip by train, Charlie and Will share a sleeper cabin. Charlie intends to mend fences, while Will figures it’s as good a time as any to broach the subjects of attraction and sexuality. They want to get their relationship back on track. But after the secrets they both reveal, their friendship can never be the same."
4 Star Review by Top 2 Bottom Reviews:
"I tend to wander between adult, new adult, and young adult LGBT novels when I read. The different audiences means that the approaches to topics will vary, but when they’re handled with care and consideration, it makes for a wonderful book. This is the case with Train to Somewhere, which takes on the sexuality of two best friends and allows them to work through what labels might best define them."
This novella, Dreams and Expectations, released on Dec 6, 2017, and it’s a standalone contemporary M/M novella. It’s readily available in e-book formats by Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers.
Here’s the blurb:
"At what point are differences irreparable?
Tom McAllister and Nick Corwin have always had a comfortable friendship, even though Nick is a Native American webcomic artist and Tom’s father is a rigid Christian. But they’re about to discover growing up means more challenges than choosing a college major. It might mean making decisions that change pivotal relationships—or sever them.
When a bully confronts Tom and Nick and a dark, unsettling aspect of Tom emerges, Nick is shaken enough to end their friendship. As both young men struggle to balance their own dreams with the expectations of their families—both in terms of career and faith—they recognize the emptiness that parting ways has left in their lives.
But when reconciliation leads to confessions that might mean something more than friendship between them, will it make their path easier to navigate or more difficult?"
4 Stars by Gay Book Reviews:
"This was such a sweet love story between two young men just starting to figure out their lives and what they want to do with it. -- Like I said this was a great read. I really enjoyed it and I think others will also. Susan Laine did a really good on this book. I look forward to more books by Susan in the future."