I really, really enjoyed Before You by Amber Hart, so I was super stoked about reading this! I love that multiracial couples are an integral part of her stories, because you don't find many of them in books (or maybe I'm just reading the wrong ones). I think it's a good thing, indeed. And this was so good!
Rating: 4 Wild Stars!
This book was told in double POVs, which I absolutely love when it comes to my contemporaries. Actually, this is a bit of a romantic suspense book too, as the jungle holds many dangers and secrets. The two characters, a girl from America and a boy from the jungle, are forced to face truths they don't want to hear and left to reexamine what they thought they knew.
There is something unique about Amber Hart's writing style that I love. I enjoyed both of the main character's voices, even though it was a stream of consciousness pattern (sometimes that just doesn't work). But it worked very well, and it wasn't hard to switch back and forth between the two.
Raven Moore hates the jungle. She hates the gorillas at the habitat, and she doesn't like the people who work there. She's bitter, angry, determined to find whatever it is her father wanted her to know. She has a lot of built-up frustration and rage. She hated how the habitat and the gorillas stole her father from her. She didn't get as much time as she wanted with him, and Raven's too late to change anything. But throughout the story, Raven starts to realize that maybe she'd been too quick to hate the gorillas and the habitat. Maybe she'd been too angry to understand why her father wanted to protect them, too bitter because they stole his time and she didn't have nearly enough. I thought Raven was a strong character, and I didn't think she was misguided. I understood her anger and resentment, her determination to solve the mystery her father left her. She had such growth as a character, and I loved that.
Jospin Tondjii was born in the jungle, knows the ins and outs of one of most the dangerous places in the world. He knows its secrets and how to read every sound. He's been brought up in an illegal organization that hunts the gorillas and sells their meat on the black markets. It's a sophisticated organization that is run by the most ruthless businessman in Cameroon, his father. That's all he's known, and he understands that he'll take over the business someday. But he doesn't count on meeting an American girl who trips his world upside down. Through Raven, Jospin starts to question his life and all he's ever known. She interests him, intrigues him, this girl who can make weapons and doesn't fear the jungle. Jospin is a little rough around the edges and secretive, but he's protective with Raven. He also had great character development, as evidenced by his decision in the end.
These two characters came from completely different worlds, yet they formed a bond that was as strong as the jungle. They had such great chemistry! Their relationship was a little bit slow-burning, a little bit steamy, and a whole lot of fun to read about. It was a focus of the book, which I loved, because this is a contemporary romance. They both had preconceived notions about the worlds in which they live, both were keeping secrets from the other. But they developed a strong and genuine relationship even after everything that happened.
There were quite a few secondary characters, but only a couple of them that had developed backgrounds, which was okay! The romance had a lot of the focus, but I didn't mind. I loved Jospin's relationship with brothers, Clovis and Mattius. You could tell that they were best friends and had known each other a long time. Jospin and his father had a complex relationship, which is left hanging with that ending. There were a few people at the habitat, but only one who routinely talked to Raven (which wasn't for lack of trying). Raven had a great relationship with her parents, as evidenced by the many flashbacks and present-day phone calls she had with her mama.
This plot was really, really interesting. I adored the gorilla scenes, especially the one with Raven and Leahcim. He helped her overcome her anger at the animals and was the reason she could finally understand why her father built the habitat. At first, I wasn't sure how realistic and likely the plot of this story was. I know nothing about Africa, gorillas, and black market hunters. It was a different story-line for sure, but so very good. And it felt authentic. But hello, cliffhanger! I knew that Raven's and Jospin's story wouldn't be finished by the end of this, but what a horrible way to cut off the book! It just makes me want the sequel right now.
Until You Find Me was an intriguing and wild ride, full of danger, romance, and steam. It explored the jungles of Cameroon and brought to light the fight to save gorillas from becoming extinct. But it was also about a passionate love that defies the ordinary, with characters who had to learn that the lines between right and wrong are not so easily identified.