Hello Forever by Sarina Bowen
Sarina Bowen writes the best MM romance! Hello Forever is a rerelease of the novel, Never Over, previously published under Bowen’s pseudonym Nealy Wagner. Hello Forever is in the same universe as the book before it, Goodbye Paradise, but features different characters.
Axel and Cax were sixteen years old when they were caught kissing in the woods at church camp, and from that day on they were separated never to see each other again. Years later, Axel is considering taking a job in the sports department at a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts, when he sees Cax on tv in the audience at that schools basketball game. That, combined with the fact that he had no other paying job offers, Axel accepts the position and moves there.
Cax is busy helping out raising his three younger brothers. After the death of his mother, his homophobic father has made it clear Cax won’t be allowed anywhere near his brothers if he’s gay, so he hides himself and pretends to be straight for the sake of his brothers. Axel is excited to reunite with his childhood friend turned crush, but Cax proves to be a bit more skittish. The two begin a tentative friendship, but it’s hindered by Cax’s fears of his father finding out about them. What was a happy reunion may not be a happy ending, but it’s up to Cax and Axel to figure out a solution.
Despite the subject matter, this book was much sweeter and less intense than the book before it. At the beginning it reminded me a bit of Bowen’s other mm romance novel The Understatement of the Year, but once it gets going the two grow apart from there. This is the romance between a graduate student and a faculty member, friends to lovers and second chance romance all wrapped up in one!
I live in a liberal bubble, and I like to believe that people are accepting of the LGBT community, but that’s not really the case. This book was a good reminder that not everyone is tolerant and can embrace love and acceptance, and my heart went out not only to Cax, but to all the other men and women like him who were shunned for who they are. I loved reading Cax’s journey to himself, and I think Axel was the perfect man to help him to it.
I do wish the relationship between Axel and Cax had been developed a bit more, we got a glimpse of their past but I felt it wasn’t enough. Without that, this book borders on the line of instalove, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment. I honestly hope Sarina Bowen never ever stops writing mm romance, or stops writing in general. She’s a go to author for me and has never let me down. I urge and encourage you to pick up her books if you haven’t yet, and you need to make sure you read this one.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review