The Next Together by Lauren James might look like any other romance story, but there is far more than mere attraction bringing Matthew Galloway and Katherine Finchley together. After all, they do keep on finding each other and falling in love – only to be tragically torn apart – lifetime after lifetime after lifetime. In Carlisle in 1745, Lady Katherine and footman Matthew prepare for an attack by rebel Scotsmen. During the Crimean War in the 1800s, Katy disguises herself as a boy to find work, which currently involves being war journalist Matthew’s assistant. In 2019, the married couple and biological researchers face accusations of terrorism. And in 2039, university students Matt and Kate struggle to uncover the truth about their dead relatives – and the memories of past lives that surely can’t be real memories…?
I picked up The Next Together expecting a fun, lighthearted read, and a fun lighthearted read is exactly what I got! The book features each time period in every chapter, interspersed with documents such as notes, emails, maps, and letters. Alone, some of the storylines seem (for the most part) like ordinary romances, but when interwoven, they all create something bigger and much more intriguing. I enjoyed all of them, but I enjoyed the historical ones best. I also really liked the characters – Kate, in particular! Kate can be rather sassy, especially in the 2019 storyline, which was really fun to read.
I do have two criticisms, though. They’re both slightly spoilery, but don’t worry – I’m keeping it vague!
The first concerns the 2039 storyline: Matt and Kate’s feelings for each other didn’t feel developed enough for me. Compared to the other storylines, they spent little time together before declaring their love for one another. It felt like they got together simply because they were supposed to, rather than because they got on well. I also thought that their story goes slower than the others because there’s not as much happening in it, so while I looked forward to most of the time periods to find out what was going to happen next, I was a little disappointed with this one.
My second criticism concerns the ending of the book. I found it a little rushed; I’d have liked to have had more detail to make it feel more real and less like an afterthought. I also didn’t think it was particularly satisfying, and it certainly wasn’t conclusive! But this might be because the questions I still had left will be answered in the second and final book in the series*, The Last Beginning. I will definitely have to read it and find out!
The Next Together is a pleasant, uncomplicated book with just enough suspense to be ideal for lazy afternoons or as a summer read. I do recommend it, but I think I’ll only be able to give my final opinion on it when I’ve read the whole story. I’d recommend it far more if the ending were more satisfying, but of course I haven’t reached the true ending until I’ve read The Last Beginning!
* = Although The Next Together is the first in a duology, there is actually more to the series than The Next Together and The Last Beginning. Another Together is a novella telling of another of Matt and Kate’s lives, and there are also two short stories, which you can find out more about here and here.