Well Lil Lovers, the time has come for me to jump into this book reviewing thing! I would like to preface my first one by saying that I hate to judge other peoples' art. It's uncomfortable, as a fellow author, knowing how much work, heart, emotion and time is poured into every word to then possibly have to tear it apart.
Thank God I don't have to do that with my very first review, which happens to be Forever and Always by Beverley Hollowed!
When she meets the handsome and very charming Sam Cooper, she loses her heart completely and utterly and then has it broken. Suddenly her life falls apart and is changed forever. Now she has to pick up the pieces and start again.
Seven years have passed and three weeks before her wedding to the dependable Simon Brennan, she comes face to face with the man who stole her heart and broke it. Now she must decide between her past and her future. But will a secret she is hiding find her having the choice made for her instead? Will she find the one who will love her.... Forever and Always?
This is the first full length romance novel I've read in over a decade. No lie. When I was in college I read romance novels by the truckload...then I got a computer and I stopped reading that much altogether. Travesty. So I'm glad to be back in the swing of things. That said, I am now reminded both why I love romance novels and why they make me absolutely cray cray! This book pretty much goes as follows:
Reader meets girl.
Oh the drama! The teen angst! The overprotective parents! The arguments! The misunderstandings! The world travel!
Boy meets girl.
The States! The burgeoning emotions! The excitement! The elation! The nerves! The trembling! The deflowering! The innocence lost! The promises! The lurve! The beach!
Boy loses girl.
The heartbreak! The sobbing! The world travel! The Emerald Isle! The major health crisis! The adult angst! The weight loss! The grief! The panick attacks!
Boy tries to get girl back.
The love triangle! The nosy friends! The yummysweatymonkeylovin'! The self-hatred! The lies! The meddling loved ones! The drinking! The further weight loss! The dresses! The promises! The broken promises! The misunderstandings! The flip-flopping! The misunderstandings! The flip-flopping! The misunderstandings! The flip-flopping! The last leg of world travel! The States!
Boy gets girl back.
Happily ever after. I think. Is there another shoe somewhere? Cuz my heart can't take anymore. Watch the sky!
It's an absolute emotional roller coaster, my friends. A big ole sappy, gooey, angsty, heartbreaking emotional roller coaster. If you love that sort of thing, THIS IS YOUR BOOK! Admittedly, I like a big dose of realism with my romance (i.e. - I don't believe for one second that *SPOILER ALERT* ANY man would be celibate for seven years while he pines away for his first love, Miss Beverley...boys just aren't wired that way...just sayin' ), but this book sucked me in and the author did it with the lovely relationship she set up at the front between Melanie, our 17 year old heroine (when we first meet her) and her father Alex, who is hopelessly, charmingly besotted with his daughter.
Melanie in the first half of the book is a bit of a petulant brat. But she's a teenager, so of course she is. In the second half of the book, she is a 24 year old adult but severely broken, with more than one excellent reason. But she's managed to move on with her life and put it back together, albeit with not much more than Scotch tape at best.
Sam Cooper, our hero, is of course uber-gorge and whipped from minute one. I kinda liked that, since everything on the market right now is all about men who treat women like shit and somehow get away with it (what the hell is wrong with us, ladies? Cheezandcrackers ). He is also endlessly patient not just with teenage Melanie but with adult Melanie, long past the point where a good man actually should be. I had more than one "Moonstruck" moment while reading where I wanted to slap Melanie and scream "Snap out of it!" -- I can only imagine that if Sam was real he may have wanted to, also. But Mel's cootch must've had super powers!
Two things saved Melanie for me:
1) Her dad finally calls her on her shit. Dear God, someone had to. (And then he meddles in her love life to a degree that is grossly inappropriate and absolutely aaaaaawwwww all at the same time, making me wish my dad would have cajones that size in regard to my happiness if ever I needed him to.)
2) Beverley writes the blossoming love story between Melanie and Sam so sweetly and tenderly as well as Sam's conviction that there is no one else for him so unshakably that I couldn't help but root for them, no matter how star-crossed the pair was and how woe-is-me Melanie got (and again I feel compelled to mention that she does have good reason). Did I believe how desperately they loved each other? Abso-fuckin-lutely. And that's the most important thing to me.
Last note is that I was impressed with Beverley's through line with the story - many tiny little details seemed meticulously thought out, and no call back missed, which is no small feat when you have a seven year time jump in the middle of the book. I also offer kudos in how she wrote Sam and Melanie as a young couple and then how she wrote them seven years later...both were entirely believable at their given ages in both time frames of the story.
All in all, I really enjoyed Forever and Always and I highly recommend it to anyone who is all about the romance. The reason it gets a four out of five is because I know what she's got coming up the bend and I have a feeling I'm gonna need the wiggle room!
Rating: 4 smooches (out of 5)
And now, if you'll excuse me...I have to go call my daddy...
Coming in April: