Rating: 3 1/2 Stars
Title: Now and Forever 1, a Love Story
Author: Jean C. Joachim
Publisher: Secret Cravings Publishing
Cover Art: Beth Walker and Jean C. Joachim
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 227 Pages
Callie Richards was no stranger to heartache. Her parents were killed when she was sixteen. Left with her older sister, she fell into a romance with good-looking, Kyle Maine. They became engaged and Callie’s future was set until he was killed in Iraq. Two years later, she pulls herself together to get her Master’s degree and restart her life on her own.
Working and studying at Kensington State University, Callie meets Mac Caldwell, the handsome dean. Together they fight a deadly campus drug ring with heart-breaking results. This is an emotional story, not a cookie-cutter romance, that will make you laugh and cry as Callie struggles to make a new life, find love and her happy ending.
At the very beginning, the heart of this book exudes a sort of melancholy feeling. Callie is dealing with the grief from the death of her fiance. We learn a lot about her childhood and the things that she had to go through as she was growing up. Her childhood was not an easy or happy one. Consequently, it seemed and felt to her like Kyle was all she had. When he died, she was devastated. In the midst of the grief, she has decided that it's time to move on with her life, but she still has trouble letting go of Kyle.
Callie is a quiet girl that stays to herself. She is believable in her grief and the way she relives things, not wanting to let them go and afraid she will forget. I enjoyed her as a character, as I did most of the characters from this book. Mac is just trying to deal with his life, not really looking to get involved with anyone. The fact that it is a relationship that is not sought out by either party seems to make the feelings more real.
The biggest problem I had with this book is only that the author did such a fantastic job of making Kyle such a great guy, to make him worthy of the level of grief Callie was feeling even after such a long time (I'm assuming), that by the time I met Mac I didn't care about him. I wanted Kyle! Even after a few chapters of Callie and Mac, and even rooting for them to get together on one level, I found myself still hoping that the military made a mistake and Kyle would come walking in. I will say that Callie's relationship with Mac was probably healthier. She had grown and matured a little more by the time she got involved with him, so he wasn't her entire life the way Kyle was. She was more her own person by this time, with her own identity.
The different things that are dealt with in this book are portrayed very well and realistically. The levels of grief, trying to move on without forgetting, becoming your own, independent person apart from the grief and the person that you are grieving are all a part of the story, but not overwhelmingly so. I loved the box of Kyle's things that Callie keeps, and Mac's reaction to it when he finds it. I could see myself doing something like that in Callie's place.
A very bittersweet love story that will take you through the whole spectrum of emotions. I found myself proud of Callie by the end, as though she was a friend I knew, rather than a character in a book. This is a great read - another win for Ms. Joachim.