Back Forever by Karen Booth
Sequel to Bring Me Back
Release Date: February 17, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction/Romance
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Source: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
The breakup that rocked Christopher Penman and Claire Abby’s romance was a painful test of their love. Now back together, they’re eager to embrace their future. Christopher’s band is making a run at it after a long hiatus. Claire lands a magazine job she never dreamed she could get. Only a ring on Claire’s finger and a baby on the way could make their new life more complete, and Chris is determined they’ll have everything they ever wanted.
But when Claire’s dad starts behaving strangely and her teenage daughter feels left out, Chris and Claire’s picture-perfect plans begin to unravel. Career demands, family strife, and a piece of devastating news send Claire into a downward spiral. Chris must help Claire find the good in all they’ve been through–they will have it all as long as they have each other, forever.
I read Bring Me Back last year and gushed about how much I loved this standalone novel about a woman who gets a chance to interview the rock-star who starred in all her teen-aged dreams. (You can read my review here) So when Ms. Booth asked if I wanted to read the sequel, a sequel I wasn't even expecting, I said 'hell yeah'!
Back Forever is a glimpse of Claire and Chris' HEA. In it, we witness them living their life - trying to have a baby while preparing for Claire's daughter, Sam, to graduate high school and leave for college, trying to plan a wedding while Chris' band is preparing for a comeback, trying to start a new life together while watching the life of a loved one fade away.
There's not too much angst. It's not a complicated story. And yet everything about Back Forever resonates with me. Ms. Booth has the indelible ability for making you love her characters and drawing you into their story. She writes real life in a meaningful way that is refreshingly dire-tragedy-free and yet still serves as the escape one looks for in fiction.
I adore Claire. She's 40 years old, has raised her daughter as a single mom, and has built a strong career as an entertainment writer. She's feisty, stubborn and fierce in defense of her loved ones. And she has this confident air that I really admire.
Chris - I don't know if I have words for how I feel about him. He's handsome and charming, to be sure. But he has to be one of the most loving and romantic men I've ever read. I have a bit of a crush...alright, more than a bit of one. ;) The ways in which he immersed himself in Claire's family warmed my heart. He loves Claire and it's evident in his every thought and action.
Claire's daughter, Sam, and her dad, Richard, are also big presences - after all, this is life. They remained well-written characters whom I loved just as much as Claire and Chris. In Back Forever, we see Sam learning how to fit Chris into the dynamic between she and her mom. We watch as she struggles with this change and as she continues to mature. Richard also works at fitting Chris into life as the Abbys have always known it. It was such a pleasure witnessing he and Chris work together, getting to know one another, and build a deep bond.
So, I delighted in every bit of Back Forever. It was exciting to see this story continue and I'd be thrilled to have even more - yeah, I'm selfish like that. Back Forever was extremely satisfying and gratifying and I am enormously grateful to Ms. Booth for giving Claire and Chris this sequel.
“Hold my hand.” She reached for me, her fingers wagging. “We close our eyes and open them on three.”
“Deal.” I stood as she did, enveloping her hand with mine. My eyes clamped shut as ordered; she began to count.
“One…Two…Two and a half…”
She giggled. “Three. Open.”
I blinked. I focused.
There it was.
One blue line.
I caught the sigh before it left my throat. Sharing my disappointment would only make her feel worse. I tugged her into an embrace, pressing my cheek to the side of her head. My fingers trailed through her silky hair. “Weren’t we just saying how much we like trying?”
She managed a quiet laugh, but trembled beneath my touch. “I didn’t want to say anything, but I actually thought I was pregnant.”
The admission only made me hold on tighter, never wanting to let her go. She wanted this as badly as I did and I’d talked her into taking the test. “It’s okay, darling. Really. And it’s still early, right? We could do another test in a few days if you’re still late.” I choked back intruding tears. “I love you so much, Claire. That’s all that matters.”
“I love you too. I’m just ready for this to happen. I don’t like feeling like our life is on hold.”
“Do you really feel that way?” You know she’s right. Our life is on hold.
“Yes. I hate seeing that look of disappointment on your face. I want to give this to you and it hasn’t happened.”
“I don’t want it to be more important than us.” You’re all that matters.
“You can’t deny that you want this very, very badly.”
“I don’t want it as much as I want you.” Am I the most daft man on the face of the planet? Without another moment wasted, I dropped to my knee, which hurt like hell when it thudded against the tile floor. “Ow.”
“Chris, what are you…” She looked down at me with genuine puzzlement, certainly warranted as she was in her pajamas, me in my boxer shorts, both of us in the bloody bathroom for God’s sake. Not the most glamorous of settings, but I think it works. Her lips were lovely and pouty. Get on with it so you can kiss her.
I took one of her hands, but failed to catch the other before it flew to her mouth. Her deep blue eyes were wide with wonder.
I cleared my throat and took a deep breath. I had one shot at getting this perfect. “Claire Abby, I love you more than I have ever loved another human being.” The words left me feeling as though my heart might burst out of my chest. “You are the most extraordinary and wonderful and frustrating woman I have ever met and I want you to be mine forever.”
She gasped. A giggle leaked out of her.
“Did you squeak, darling?”
“Maybe.” Her shoulders shook, her eyes watered. “Please, go on.”
“I want you to be mine. Forever. Even if we never get to have a child together, I’m never letting you go. That is, if you’ll have me. Claire, will you marry me?”
Her other hand dropped and she smiled in a way that left her cheeks as full as ripe peaches on a summer day, mine for the picking. Her face was such a distraction that for a heartbeat or two, I didn’t realize she hadn’t yet answered the question. I wagged an
eyebrow, hoping she had no defense for that.
“Well?” I asked.
“Shhh.” Her smile returned as soon as she relaxed her lips.
“I’m savoring the moment.”
“Why don’t we savor the moment after you give me an answer?”
Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation with rock 'n' roll led her to spend her twenties working her way from intern to executive in the music industry. Much of her writing revolves around the world of backstage passes and band dynamics. When she isn't creating fictional musicians, she's listening to music with her kids, honing her Southern cooking skills or sweet-talking her astoundingly supportive husband into whipping up a batch of cocktails.