Turquoise Morning Press / February 17, 2014 / $3.99 digital
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.
When I realized Karen Booth's Back Forever wasn’t just a connected book, but a sequel to Bring Me Back, I got a copy and read that first and I’m really glad I did. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, but the dedication reads “To every reader who fell in love with Chris and wished to be Claire.” Back Forever is a love letter to fans of Chris and Claire.
Their first book is the story of Claire suddenly finding herself with the man she’d crushed on way back in high school. Not the boy next door either but a bona fide rock star, complete with groupies and skeletons in the closet. We’ve all heard that saying “Be careful what you wish for,” right?
Claire gets everything her teenage heart longed for but it isn’t easy to hold onto. I think every girl has had a moment of dreaming of being swept off her feet to an island getaway by a hot guitar player, adored by thousands of women, who only has eyes for you. Claire gets the fantasy.
But in Back Forever she and Chris have to deal with the splash of icy cold reality. Even rock stars have the same problems as the rest of us and Chris and Claire have more than their share—finding a new house, dealing with family and job stresses and on top of that trying to hold onto every scrap of privacy. Claire has an teenage daughter, a widowed father and an estranged sister all clamoring for her time on top of a job she loves and a new boyfriend she can’t get enough of. She’s spread pretty thin and struggling to meet all those obligations. I especially like the way the relationship between Claire and her daughter Sam evolves. Sam is a real teenager, not always sweet and helpful or even reasonable, yet it’s also clear for her actions that she loves her mother and has come to love Chris as well.
And there are some troubles that all the money in the world can’t fix. This story is a clear-eyed look at a romance that has nothing to do with fangirling and everything to do with standing by the one you love through the good and the bad and the occasionally really awful. While I didn’t love the way Claire’s work situation was resolved, it was probably the most realistic decision and I don’t think most readers would necessarily share my bias.
Back Forever has the added bonus of Chris’s point of view, which was a fun—and welcome—surprise after getting to know him solely though Claire’s eyes.
Julia Broadbooks writes contemporary romance. She lives in the wilds of suburban Florida with her ever patient husband and bakes ridiculous amounts of sugary treats for her teens' friends. Find her on Twitter @juliabroadbooks.