Friday, July 14, 2017

Hello Forever (Hello Goodbye #2) by Sarina Bowen

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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.

Source: advance e-galley provided in exchange for an honest review

Second-chance romances are always a cure for a glum mood which is why I was so happy to crack this one open. (Or is it swipe it open since it's an ebook?) 

Axel and Cax get a chance to become reacquainted again when Axel relocates to the same small town of Henning that Cax now lives in. Axel has moved here for a job though truth be told, also for Cax. When they were teenagers at a church camp they had acted upon their mutual crush. Sadly, they were caught and separated immediately with Axel not hearing from or seeing Cax ever again. He's never forgotten him so when he saw Cax on tv at the college basketball game, he felt that this was the sign he needed to accept the position at Barmuth University. Cax never thought he'd see his first and only love again but their reunion brings a mixed bag of emotions. He's thrilled to have him near but also fearful. Cax has kept his sexuality a secret from everyone and has never come out of the closet. He's never even said it aloud to himself. His strained relations with his father is what is holding him back for fear that his dad would make trouble for him where his family is concerned. As tempted as he is to act upon his feelings for Axel he has to weigh the consequences of doing so. 

I feel that this is another instance of Bowen schooling me, in this case reminding me that "coming out" is not an easy decision for many people. True, toxic people should be removed from our lives but there's a cost. The person stuck in the middle has to consider that cost against their own happiness which is exactly the position that Cax is in. Axel is at the other end of the spectrum. He has always been accepted by his mother, has experienced relationships and sex, and is now in his first professional job testing the waters to see if his sexuality will be an issue at work. It's interesting seeing the contrast in how these two men live their lives. But Axel is a stand-up guy who has waited this long to find Cax again so he won't easily give up on him. He is exceptionally tender and understanding of him even when things get shot to hell later.

Sarina Bowen knows how to draw you into the story at a deeper level. You may think you know what's going on but you don't. Each revelation adds another layer to making the characters whole. Axel and Cax have a lovely chemistry that makes the sexual tension even more pressing. Outside of that, there's a bond that even six years of being apart can't diminish. Hello Forever is about patience, encouragement and the steadfast belief that love wins in the end, especially when you find your way back to each other.

~ Bel

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