Note: This ARC was provided by the author via Nina Bocci PR in exchange for an honest review.
“Mmm,” I said when warm arms curled me close to him.“That was perfect,” he breathed in my ear.“Yes,” I agreed, almost too tired to speak. “Thought it would never happen. Thought it was over.”“With the way I feel about you? It’s never over,” he said with a sigh.
I've got the Sixpence None the Richer song "There She Goes" (originally sung by The La's for you trivia buffs out there) playing in my head at this very moment because yes, fellow bookaholics, here Sarina Bowen goes again, writing about two main characters who are still "racing through my brain" and whose story is "pulsing through my vein". Hello Forever is the second in the author's Hello Goodbye series, but it was originally released a little over two years ago under the title It's Never Over and as part of the Pay It Forward duet written under Bowen's pseudonym, Nealy Wagner. This can be read independently but because I loved the first novel, Goodbye Paradise (original title: In Front of God & Everyone), I'm recommending you read the books in order. You'll come across several memorable characters from that series starter, especially husbands Caleb Smith and Joshua Royce.
Hello Forever is a second chance love story about Axel Armitage and Caxton Williams (yeah, I'm refusing to use Cax's first name and if you've read the book, you'll know why). They became the best friends over the summers they spent together at a church retreat. When they were both sixteen, they shared one intimate moment and their first kiss--a kiss that would be sullied with vile and homophobic vitriol and would lead to the end of any contact between Axel and Cax. More than six years later, Axel's first job out of college has him moving from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio to Henning, Massachusetts to be part of the marketing team for Barmuth University's athletics department. What clinches the job offer though is a familiar face he spots while watching a live-streamed basketball game--the familiar face belonging to the boy who stole Axel's heart and Axel never forgot: Cax Williams.
There's a great deal of hesitation on Cax's end, and when the reason behind both his hesitation and what led to them no longer being friends after the kissing incident at church camp is revealed, it's easy to understand why. This isn't one of those cases where I could have gotten irritated with one of the main characters because it was clear that he wanted the other guy but he refused to pursue anything and then there would be this whole back and forth. In Cax's case, there was a clear and present danger, one that you'll only learn when you read the book (or come across a spoilery review!). My heart squeezed in empathy, not only for Cax but for Axel as well, because if any two people deserved to have a happy ending TOGETHER, it was these two. There's a fair bit of angst as well as some violence, but there's also a lot of love, self-acceptance, and second chances in Hello Forever. Five-plus stars! ♥
Read my reviews for the Hello Goodbye series:
Goodbye Paradise (book one) - five-plus stars - My Review
Hello Forever (book two) - five-plus stars - My Review (posted above)
Release Date: 14 July 2017
Date Read: 13 July 2017
Learn more about Sarina Bowen.