Friday, July 14, 2017

Release Day Reviews: Hello Forever by Sarina Bowen

by Sarina Bowen

One basketball game changes everything...

When they were only teenagers, Axel and Caxton were caught making out in the woods at church camp. And afterward, Cax had disappeared from all the youth group activities.

Six years later, Axel is astonished to spot his first love’s face in the crowd of a college basketball game he’s watching on TV—at a school which has just offered him a job. It’s a thousand miles away, in a tiny rural town. But suddenly, he can’t wait to get there.
Cax can’t believe his eyes when Axel appears in the same Massachusetts town where he now lives. And he’s still just as drawn to Axel as ever. But he can’t let himself go there again, because loving Axel will mean giving up everything else he holds dear.

Both men have so much to lose. But as far as their love is concerned, it's Hello Forever.

Hello Forever is a stand-alone novel with no cliffhangers. Readers of Goodbye Paradise will get to check in on Caleb and Josh and their clan.

Get it on: Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | 

4.5 Stars

This is book two in the Hello Goodbye series, and while it can technically be read as a standalone, Josh and Caleb, the main characters from Goodbye Paradise, are featured predominately throughout this story, and although you won't be lost by not reading their book, you will miss out on an amazing story.

Axel and Caxton met when they were young and over years spent attending the same church summer camp, they became best friends. When they are 16, Axel and Cax act on the attraction they feel for one another, but when the pastor finds them making out in the woods, parents are called, and Axel and Cax are forced to go their separate ways. Six years later while watching a basketball game for the university he's just been offered a job at, Axel spots Cax sitting in the stands. Axel accepts the job and moves to the same Massachusetts town where Cax is living, and starts his new job with the athletic department at the same university where Cax is pursuing his doctorate. Will these two men get a second chance at first love?

I read book one, Goodbye Paradise, a couple of years ago under the title "In Front of God and Everyone" by Nealy Wagner (a pseudonym), and I absolutely loved it, so I was very excited to discover this book and I couldn't wait to dig in. It was good, but not as good as Goodbye Paradise.

I absolutely loved Axel. He was such an amazing, giving, and loving person. The love he felt for Cax was pure and solid. He was so selfless that he was willing to walk away and give up his own happiness to ensure Cax's chances of maintaining a relationship with his three younger brothers, who Cax is helping his father raise.

Cax, well, it took me a while to warm up to him. I know why he felt he had to hide, and trust me his father proves throughout this story that Cax's fears are valid, so while I definitely understood, it was still somewhat frustrating. To be honest, I couldn't see a way for this relationship between Axel and Cax to work, and still keep Cax in his brothers' lives.

The story is well-written, but I was left wanting more. I wanted a more prolonged and developed relationship between Axel and Cax, even if it had to be in secret, I just wanted more. Axel and Cax had great chemistry and they were hot together once they finally made it into bed, but the balance of their relationship felt off. I felt Axel wanted it much more than Cax and he was willing to do anything to get that second chance with the man he loved, even if it meant he had to settle for just being friends.

I adored Axel's mother. She was sweet and so supportive of her son's sexuality. All she wanted was to see Axel be happy, and that's all a parent should want for their child. I also loved getting to visit with Josh and Caleb and see what they were up to. Besides Caleb, Josh and Axel's mother, there were a host of likable secondary characters throughout the story, but there aren't enough words in the dictionary to describe the hatred I hold for Cax's father. It just boggles my mind that people can still be so narrow-minded and bigoted.

I absolutely love Sarina's writing and while this isn't my favorite book by her, it was still an amazing and enjoyable read, filled with sadness, angst, friendship, acceptance, second chances, but most of all love. Highly recommendable!!

4.5 Stars!!!

So, by now I should know better than to start a Sarina Bowen book before going to bed, because more likely than not, I’ll be unable to put the book down and end up reading until I finish it. Hello Forever wasn’t the exception.

This is a second chances story. Axel and Cax met when they little kids at a diocese retreat and became best friends. When they were discovered kissing at 16, Cax’s father made him sever all connection with Axel, but neither of them was able to forget about the boy who’d been their first love. Years later, Axel is trying to decide about accepting a job in Barmuth University and is watching a live stream of a local basketball game when he comes across a familiar face on the screen and decides to move to Henning, Massachusetts in the off chance of finding Cax there.

Cax has lived completely in the closet since that fateful day in which he’d been found kissing his friend Axel. His father is a homophobic bully and threatened to not allow him to see his younger brothers if he continues on the path he was going down. Seeing Axel again sends him in a tailspin, the attraction between them is still as strong as it was all thos years ago, making it difficult for Cax to resist Axel even with all that could go wrong if his father find out Axel is in Henning.

Hello Forever is book 2 in the Pay It Forward series and technically it can be read as a standalone, although Josh and Caleb from Goodbye Paradise feature in this book, too, and really, you don’t want to miss their story, so pick it up and you can thank me later.

This book isn’t quite as angsty as the previous one, but it has its moments. I loved Axel, he was out, but he was still wary of letting others know about him being gay. It was lovely seeing the other side of the coin, what with him having a supporting mother and friends. His interactions with his coworker Boz were hilarious and had me in stitches more than once. I liked Cax, and I could see why he chose to just hide his sexuality, rather than risk losing his brothers, but I liked him a whole lot more when he decided to stop being afraid of his father and start living.

The relationship between Axel and Cax might have seemed like it was a bit fast, but I saw it more as them picking up right where they were interrupted 6 years ago. They had amazing chemistry and I just loved them together.

It was amazing to catch up with Josh and Caleb and I loved Axel’s mom, Amy, Boz and Scotty. I’m intrigued over Jason and wouldn’t mind reading his story. I hated Cax’s father with the fire of a thousand suns, he was a horrible man.

All in all, while I liked Goodbye Paradise better, Hello Forever was a great read. You simply can’t go wrong with Sarina Bowen, whose writing is synonymous with excellence, with lovable characters and a very balanced story, with romance, angst, sweetness and some very hot scenes.

Definitely recommendable!!!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn’t a requirement. ***

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