Cover Image: The Man I Loved Before

The Man I Loved Before

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

While I enjoyed this book, I also felt that it was a bit slow in some places. As a result, I sometimes had a hard time with it keeping my attention. I really enjoyed the character development, and especially how they all linked together. I would recommend this, but feel like the author could have gotten to the climax a bit faster.
Was this review helpful?
The Man I Loved Before was really enjoyable. This was actually my first novel by Anna Mansell. I look forward to reading more from her!
Was this review helpful?
I loved this read! 
Jen was such A refreshingly real character!!! Her struggles were so relatable and reading her story had me crying constantly. By the end of the book I was a mess. I m loved her relationship not only with her mom but her best friend... I loved the emphasis placed on that relationship. 
Well done!!
Was this review helpful?
Most people in life look for closure and that is exactly what Jem needed. Everything was going against her, but one of the most difficult things she dealt with was a previous breakup. So Jem writes a letter to Ben, and discussed things of the past, including serious issues she kept from him.

As this emotional read by Anna Mansell begins, Jem's letter to Ben begins, and the reader meets her at 38 years of age, single for about a year. However, her life seems to have come to a full stop. Will she be able to move on, with everything happening, including the fact that her mother now has cancer?

I was drawn into Jem's story from the very beginning, more so with her heart being on the line. She doesn't always land on her feet, sometimes exercising questionable judgment, but what she was is a woman completely relatable and that is what I think I enjoyed most about this story. Having her close friend Leanne by her side throughout the changes in her life was a nice element to this book. Having lost my mother to cancer I was really drawn into Jem's relationship with her mother during this difficult time.

While this is my first book by Ms. Mansell I will say she has definitely caught my interest in the story as well as her engaging writing. I look forward to reading her next book.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
When Jem was with Ben he told her if she had a problem write it all down and then burn it to make it all go away, the only problem was she wrote it all down in a letter to Ben and her mother posted it before she had a chance to burn it and she had to drive all the way Cornwall to get it back as there was no way she could let Ben read it or he would hate her forever! Trying to get her life back on track her best friend gets her to go on Tinder and she meets up with Mitch an old school friend and she starts to fall for him...... are things going to go right for her at last or is he to good to be true and what is he hiding?

A lovely bittersweet story, Jem is obviously very flawed and on top of all of her other problems her mum's cancer comes back and will she be strong enough to cope with it.   I loved the way she becomes stronger and eventually sorts herself out and realises that she doesn't need crutches in her life
Was this review helpful?
This title, cover and blurb sells this book as a second chance romance, where the heroine gets to a crossroad in her life, choosing between her ex husband and the new man in her love. That is not at all how the plot goes. In fact, I would not even call this a romance, more contemporary fiction. She interacted with the ex-husband in 3 scenes exactly not counting the one scene where she spied on him outside his house nor the epilogue scene where they already have reconnected. He did feature in her thoughts a handful of times or so. There definitely was not any pining over the ex while she acquainted herself with her new lover nor during the relationship with the latter. What there was was a whole lot of binge drinking on her part, both past and present alcohol excesses and reminiscing over the significant damage her drinking had wrought including destroying her marriage, and yet she had learnt absolutely nothing from it because she continued the disturbing trend of over-indulging nightly. Not really because she was miserable and self-pitying so much as because she could. In fact, I really did not see much evidence of remorse from her. Furthermore, her best friend and her mother continued to enable her by telling her how wonderful she was and that there was no need to change and improve herself.

There were horrible choices in her life which were glossed over by her "weak" personality and inability to say no, but there was no explanation as to why she was so insipid and irresolute. She was brought up by a strong and positive woman. Her mother is the best thing about the book. Their relationship (view spoiler) was well written and moving.

The big letdown was the main character herself. It's not that she was flawed, but that she learnt nothing from her past mistakes and did not grow as a character. Her relationship with the wrong man was dragged on tediously while the ending was resolved at a rushed pace like the author coming to the realisation that she was fast reaching the limit of her word count limit
Was this review helpful?
I found this book slow to get into but once in, I loved it, and what a perfect ending. Highly recommended
Was this review helpful?
Theres a lot of various avenues to explore in ‘The Man I Loved Before’. Not only is Jem finding it difficult to get over the man who had her heart, her mum was in remission from cancer. And, if that wasn’t enough, Jem finds herself being pulled in directions that arent good for her emotional wellbeing that ends up threatening her friendship with her best friend.

I reckon a lot of readers would find it difficult not to be empathetic towards Jem. The situations she deals with is more than enough for several people to contend with, let alone just one. Of course the fact that Jem’s mum is in remission is clearly good news, however with something like that, you cant help but wait for it to return. Not only that, her mum didnt return to her usual self after the cancer.

I enjoyed the realism of the storyline as it focused on things that can happen to real life people, without pretending that life is hunkydory because, contrary to popular belief, it isnt always like that. I appreciated the angle of the book, even though it was emotional at times and very powerful.

When Jem found herself in a sticky situation later on in the book, it did bring memories back for me as I had been in a similar boat myself many years ago. It wasnt easy to read, but i respected the author for including a topic that is often seen as taboo. However (sorry), I felt that it overpowered the rest of the book and took my attention away from other scenes in the book that I felt were important.

‘The Man I Loved Before’ is a romantic, poignant, topical read which puts relationships to the test big time. I really enjoyed the heartfelt storyline but, most importantly, I loved how difficult topics were given their time to shine in attempt to help others understand. Something that Anna Mansell has Mansell exceptionally well.
Was this review helpful?
This is the first time I’ve read anything by this author, and I can’t believe I missed out. I need to get more of her books!

It took me a while to get to like Jem. But once I did, I really cared about what happened to her, and understood more about what had made her the way she appeared to be at the start. Her mum I liked straight away, and I loved their relationship.

There’s so much going on in this book. There are little glimpses into her past life with Ben, there’s her new life and new relationship, and there’s everything that’s happening with her mum.

There’s great humour in this book, with some really funny moments. There are truly special relationships, like Jem’s friendship with her best friend, Leanne, and her wonderful relationship with her mum. There’s heartbreak, sadness, and there’s an element of tension, as we wait to see how this will all end. This book really has all the elements for a fantastic read.

I found myself looking forward to returning to this book at the end of each day, and sorry when it was finished.

Insightful and inspiring, it’s a captivating read. So enjoyable.
Was this review helpful?
Jem has a difficult time making good choices. She blames herself for everything that goes wrong in her life. I really enjoyed this story of how she comes to terms with herself. I did find all of the drinking to be frustrating, but I’m not sure the story could have been told without it. I found the ending to be perfect ❤️,
Was this review helpful?
Goodness, what a heartbreaking novel! But also uplifting...
Jem has been declared bankrupt, she has split up with her boyfriend Ben and moved back in with her mum. She writes him a letter to put events and her feelings in to words, planning to burn it but her mum 'helpfully' posts it. Cue a dash to Cornwall to try to retrieve it, coming face to face with the man she still loves...
Trying to move on with her life, Jem starts a new relationship with Mitch but all is not what it seems. Plus she is dealing with her mum's cancer diagnosis.
The chatty style that author Anna Mansell uses it so endearing and natural. Jem has huge potential but fails to see it so, before she can move on in her life and relationships, she needs to see the good in herself that is obvious to others.
The content of Jem's letter to Ben is gradually revealed over the course of the book. The guilt she has been enduring is painful and unwarranted: it just feels oh so real. As always, I hadn't read the blurb so had no idea what to expect. By the end I was blubbing.
The new relationship with Mitch is a tricky one. I felt uncomfortable about his behaviour from the start and his manipulation gradually extends. There is so much warmth in this book despite the mystery and feeling of unease of Mitch's behaviour.
Jems' mum's cancer battle is so sad. It feels honest and reading the author's notes at the end it becomes clear that Anna is writing from personal experience.
This all sounds a bit heavy but actually there is plenty of humour and the turn of phrase lifts the whole book. The raw emotion of The Man I Loved Before is so beautifully written that it captivates the reader.
Such a good book!
Was this review helpful?
I love love love LOVED this book! The characters were so real and I felt ALL the emotions. I was hoping all the way through that Ben would come back in her life, but I also wondered if it would be a 'I don't need no man' kind of ending. I laughed and cried and repeated several times. I've loved every Anna Mansell book I've read and this was no exception!
Was this review helpful?
An enjoyable book, it took me a while to get into this book but once the story picked up i found i couldn't wait to get to the end to see how it all panned out. Well written.
Was this review helpful?
I requested this book on mistake and I could not give a honest review. Maybe ill read it some other time and post my review on social sites. 

Thank you NetGalley for this arc.
Was this review helpful?
I had a hard time getting into this book, mainly because I think Jem was fairly annoying. She seemed self-centered, which did not make me feel any sympathy for her plight. I did think that the best moments were between Jem and her mom, and there was growth in Jem's character because of that relationship and what occurs. It all just seemed uneven, and I couldn't find myself rooting for her to prevail and get herself straightened out. Other readers may have a different perspective, however. For more thoughts, please visit my blog at Fireflies and Free Kicks Fiction Reviews. Thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for the opportunity to give this one a try.
Was this review helpful?
I love this book! Beautifully written, it draws you in, shocks you with twists and takes you on a heart wrenching roller coaster of emotion.

It deals with love in many guises. Showing the dangers of love as well as the beauty.

I love the character of Leanne, she was so relatable to me and I think we all need a friend like her! 

Jem is also a relatable character and I definitely empathise with her self-critical mode.

A great read
Was this review helpful?
I sure do love this author's work...I find Anna's books such a treat....💞
This one certainly packs a punch....
It's emotional, funny at times but ultimately a story that helps you to accept who you are and where you are in life...
We meet Jem, who seemed to have been struggling with life and all in it.......
Just when she is finally getting everything back on track, her mum who is ill with cancer, finds a letter Jem wrote to her ex Ben in a moment of finding closure to that particular relationship and sends the letter thinking she is doing good.
Jem never intended the letter to be sent to him and it opens up a right can of worms for her....
I did take a shine to the character of Jem and her mum...
I adored this beautiful relationship and they were such good friends to each other and so incredibly supportive...
Her new boyfriend not so much....but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was that bugged me about him....
Quite a sad read at times I felt but uplifting in the end...
Well worth making the time for this one...
Anna's writing is wonderful and such a rare treat....
Was this review helpful?
Do you believe in 'serendipity?'
What about if you 'blundered' into someone unexpectedly?
Well, I'm at a loss because I never believed in either till my ex husband mentioned them in conversation to explain the new married woman in our home with him but that's a whole other story.
Here, we have Jem who has a double header with two men and she has got to narrow the selection down to one winner.
Mitch or Ben may hold the key to her heart but how shall she choose?
First, lets back up a bit, because her story began with Ben and since he's an ex for a reason with a story behind it all, we may as well go there.
You see, she has a past story, a secret if you will, a deeply emotional one, that has been riding on her conscious and so she writes a letter but had no plans to give it to him.
Enter-her mother- who happens to stumble upon the information-and passes it forward.
OMG!!
Well, now that didn't just happen did it?
YES
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book.  Felt so much for Jem as she was clearly very mixed up.  Was very sad in parts but was so pleased she sorted herself out (hope that's not a spoiler!)
Was this review helpful?
I adored The Man I Loved Before. The story focuses on Jem. She writes her ex, Ben a letter, knowing he’ll never read it she feels she can apologise for everything. It’s fine, she’s going to burn the letter after all, until her mum finds it and posts it to him causing Jem to start questioning both her past and her future. Brilliantly written, this book covers, love, loss, illness and trying to make amends for mistakes Jem has made. I can highly recommend this book and would rate it 4.5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture and the author for the chance to review.
Was this review helpful?