First & Then Review: Jane Austen and Football?

June 22, 2016 by Jenna | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

First & Then Review: Jane Austen and Football?First & Then by Emma Mills
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on October 13th 2015
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

I’m not gonna lie, the beautiful cover of this book was what drew me to it in the first place… but I really ended up enjoying the story and the characters in this novel. It was a really heartwarming contemporary story, with some beautiful relationships between characters.


First & Then is a loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. There were some similarities and some elements taken from the classic but I thought the story and characters were different enough for me to not be reminded of Pride and Prejudice every three seconds. First & Then is very much just a coming-of-age story. We mostly just follow our main character, Devon, as she tries to figure out who she is and what she wants to do with her life and I wouldn’t say that there’s a lot of plot. I really liked Devon’s character development and how she learnt to accept and trust in others, support those around her in what they want in life, and figure out the person she wants to become. I thought her journey and self-development was very genuine and heartfelt, and it was a beautiful coming-of-age story overall. Having said that, I did feel slightly dissatisfied upon finishing the book because I didn’t feel that Devon’s future goals were really resolved. Even though she’s developed amazing relationships with those around her and learnt to become a more supportive and accepting person, her struggles with figuring out her aspirations and who she wants to be became kind of secondary to the family and romance themes.

I thought the characters were wonderful in First & Then, though it did take me a little while to warm up to Devon. She started off as a little bit bland and I found it hard to connect with her. She seemed to have zero aspirations and hobbies besides reading Jane Austen, and I really struggled to relate to her. Her days seemed to just be filled with aimless wandering around and doing nothing? It did start to get better when more of the side characters came into the picture and Devon’s days started to revolve around them and her relationships with them. My favourite character by far was Foster, Devon’s younger cousin who starts living with them after a family tragedy. He was just adorable and I loved his role in the book so much. He was a great friend to everyone and I really loved the way he supported Devon in the novel. He just had such a fantastic bond with every single character in the book and was just so lovable! I could read a whole book just about Foster to be honest. Devon who? I also really liked Ezra’s character though he did come across as a little bit of a typical broody YA love interest at times. But I loved the relationship that he had with Devon and how they brought out the honesty and respect in each other. While they started off a bit rocky, their relationship developed so realistically that it was hard not to be rooting for them.

A thousand electric cars could run on how you feel when you know that the person you like likes you back. It feels incredible. Like it shouldn’t be possible. Of all the happy coincidences to ever exist, it’s one of the happiest.

I really enjoyed the writing in First & Then as well. It had beautiful flow and the pacing of the book was just perfect for the story. It was a little bit slow-paced but progressed very evenly and smoothly. It was really easy to read and I finished it in two short sittings. The whole book was just really sweet and a joy to read.


If you’re looking for a contemporary with lots of heart and beautiful relationships, I highly recommend First & Then. There was a wonderful balance of family, romance and self-development, with a splash of Jane Austen and football!

Rating: 4 out of 5



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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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35 responses to “First & Then Review: Jane Austen and Football?

    • HAHA I was drawn to it because of the cover too so I completely understand XD. The relationships in this one are truly amazing and I hope you get a chance to read it!

  1. I couldn't agree more Jenna, I loved this one too. I really didn't see the Pride and Prejudice connection at all actually, as that love / hate relationship between Devon and Ezra could be found in most YA books these days. I loved Foster, he was the absolute highlight for me. Such a sweet character. Cas pissed me off. I was so surprised by his character and thought his treatment of Devon was terrible, but something she really needed overall to make that decision to move forward too. Wonderful review Jenna, so glad you enjoyed this too!
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    • Thanks Kelly. Yeah I agree, there were some moments that reminded me of P&P but if I hadn't been told beforehand I wouldn't necessarily have made the connection. And there was definitely no P&P for me in the second half of the book. Yeah I thought Cas was a bit of a jerk but I couldn't completely hate him since he seemed like a good friend. The way he handled everything was a bit weird though. I'm glad she had Ezra though because he's so much better than Cas!

  2. Aww beautiful review Jeann! I love how you worded things out! 🙂 I have read Pride and Prejudice a few years ago and I absolutely loved it! I had no idea that this book was somehow based on Jane Austen's novel, though, and it sort of intrigues me! <3 I'm sorry that it was hard to relate to Devon at first, but at least somehow she developed throughout the story? 🙂 And Foster sounds like a cool guy in the book!

    Great review Jeann! Like you, I sort of want to read this because of the gorgeous cover hahaha. But more than that, I just love Pride and Prejudice so I hope I may like this one as well 🙂

    • Haha it's only loosely based on P&P but definitely had enough to remind me of the amazing classic <3 Foster was absolutely wonderful and my favourite character in the whole novel. You should definitely check this one out if you're looking for a quick contemporary that will remind you of P&P 🙂

  3. Aww this sounds SO cute! And I own the finished copy and had NO IDEA that all that pretty was hanging out under there! Note to self: undress books more often 😉 But seriously, I am kind of glad that it isn't *too* P&P-y. I was worried because frankly, classics scare me, so you've made me more excited to read this! Great review!
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    • This one definitely blew me away when I undressed it! Every time I pick it up, I have to undress it because it's soooo pretty *_* This one definitely has the right amount of P&P. Half the time I didn't even remember that it had P&P elements.

  4. keionda

    I've read some mixed reviews about this book! And it seems that even though you has some reservations about it, like not being able to connect with some characters, that you still overall enjoyed it which is a good thing1! <3 I can't wait to try this one out! 🙂

    Awesome review, lovey! xoxo!

    • I can see why some people might not have liked it but I thought it was a really cute and sweet contemporary. Definitely one to pick up if you want something short and sweet between heavy books.

  5. I'm so glad you liked this one! OMG, yes I wanted more scenes with Devon tbh. He was my fave character 4ever, and Ezra was also such a cutie pie! So agree with you about the mc being bland at first.

    *whispers* also you should read Starflight for your spaceship challenge thing *disappears in a cloud of sparkles*

  6. The cover of this book is very colorful yet simple, and it's definitely one that has caught my attention! Even though I liked Pride & Prejudice in high school, I don't think I would go as far to say that I liked liked it. But this is just a loose retelling so who knows, maybe I will try it one day! I think I would also have trouble connecting with Devon, but other than that this sounds beautiful 🙂

    Awesome review Jenna!
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    • OMG Val, the cover is sooo beautiful! The cover for her next release is super beautiful too! The publisher has definitely gotten it right. Yeah, this one is very loosely related to P&P. You almost don't even think P&P most of the time and I really liked it that way. I hope you get a chance to pick this up!

    • I agree! Definitely cannot go wrong with Austen-inspired stories. I really liked that this one was only loosely reminiscent of P&P though.

    • I really liked the football too. It was just a really unexpected aspect (I should learn to read blurbs) and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

  7. Alice

    Lovely review Jenna! I'm definitely adding this one to my TBR. I've heard quite a few people say wonderful things about this one! I always love a book with beautiful, wonderful characters. <3 Though it would have been frustrating to take a while to connect with the MC, and I feel like I'm going to go through that when I read it as well haha. Side characters usually save the day when this happens so I'm glad it works out in this one! I'll definitely be checking this one out 😀

    • Omg the side characters in this one are absolutely wonderful! Foster was the most amazing character <3 It's quite a quick read so I definitely recommend picking this one up even though it's a little bit slow at the beginning.

    • You should absolutely pick this one up in hardcover! It's soooooo beautiful, like I can't stop undressing it and stroking the naked cover ;D

  8. HOLLY

    I've seen this book around before, but I had no idea that it was a P&P retelling!! I love P&P but I don't think I've ever actually read a retelling of it before, so I'll definitely have to give this one a go! Since summer began I've been in the mood for more contemporary YA, and this is perfect. Great review!

    • Upon reflection, I wouldn't really say that it's a retelling of P&P but it has some aspects that are reminiscent of P&P. You should definitely check this one out. It really is perfect for summer and it's a quick read too!

  9. Yay! So happy to see you liked this one, Jenna. I adored it too. I agree. It took some while for Devon to really come out of her shell, which made it hard to like her at first. My favorite part of this book was definitely the relationships aspects. I do wish the romance had been just a bit stronger though.
    Lovely review! 🙂
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    • Thanks Nick! Yeah I kinda wish the romance had been a little bit more swoony? It felt a little flat to me. But I loved Devon's relationship with Foster. That definitely put a tear in my eye 😀

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