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Title: Chasing Forever

Author: Kelly Jensen

Series: This Time Forever #3

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Release date: December 10, 2018

Cover artist: Natasha Snow

Genre: m/m contemporary romance

Length: 88,163 words | 333 pages

Buy itRiptide Publishing

Warnings: References to child abandonment, neglect and abuse. Depression. Physical disability.

Blurb:

Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.

Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.

Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.

But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.

Kelly Jensen talks Chasing Forever: This story is all about new directions. Brian and Mal will both be confronted with challenges that will encourage them to channel their energy into something worthwhile. For Brian, it’s stepping out from behind his substantial wallet to make a difference. For Mal, it’s about learning to live out loud. For both of them, it’s about forming a family of their own, and chasing a forever neither thought they might find.

My review:

5 stars

This entire series has been like a warm blanket on a rainy day: nice and cozy and real. And by "real" I mean that every book has featured main characters who aren't perfect. They have flaws and quirks and they mess up every once in a while, making them feel like real people.

Brian and Mal are no different. And honestly? I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did, and that's because I didn't much care for Brian in the first two books. But Kelly Jensen made him so damn likeable in Chasing Forever.

There's a lot happening in this novel. Mal's recovering from two broken legs, he's just been put in charge of the high school's GSA club, and he deals with an endearing awkwardness mixed with occasional self-esteem issues. Brian suddenly finds himself the guardian of his fourteen-year-old nephew who's just been kicked out for being gay, and he's dealing with old wounds from when he himself was kicked out of his home for the same reason. Throw in some family tension and a bid to save the local bar, and there's a lot to unpack. But all of that is weaved so well into Mal and Brian's burgeoning relationship.

Brian and Mal are both relatable characters, and they're both dealing with emotional wounds. But despite those wounds they nevertheless come together. And it's not an easy journey; they both pull back despite wanting to move forward, but their hard-won HEA is so worth it. And watching them...not overcome those wounds...but deal with them, learn to live with them, together? I loved it. I loved everything about this book. I fell so hard for both Brian and Mal, and I loved watching them come together.

One of the things that I loved about this novel was that, while all of the plot threads come to a satisfying resolution at the end, not all of those resolutions are tied with a pretty bow. Some end favourably, others not so favourably, which is one of the things that made this book feel so real and genuine.

I thought book 1, Building Forever was my favourite book in this series, butChasing Forever just took that spot!

This entire series is fantastic and I can't recommend it enough.

Excerpt:

Mal checked the time. What the heck—it was New Year’s Eve and he should get kissed.

Brian followed his gaze, clearly checking the time for himself. “Want to wait for midnight?”

“No.” Because . . . “I’m not very good at this.” Okay, that’s enough. Stop talking now.

“You’re doing fine.”

“There’re probably a dozen other guys in this bar who would give their left nut to talk to you. Why are you bothering with me?”

“Why would you ask a question like that?”

“Because you unsettle me.”

“But in a good way.”

Brian smiled, and Mal let his lips curve upward in response—because Brian was right. Heck, yeah, he was uncomfortable and it wasn’t because his legs ached. Or the creeping fatigue from PT. The knowledge that even getting to the bathroom was a journey he had to plan. He wondered, then, if he should grab his crutch, pull it out of the shadow of the bar, and show it to Brian, and quickly realized that if he did, he’d be making another excuse. Besides, he didn’t want to have sex with Brian tonight.

Actually, he did.

But he wasn’t going to have sex with Brian tonight. Brian Kenway obviously enjoyed playing games and much as Mal suspected he’d enjoy a night in Brian’s bed, he knew it would probably be a one-off thing. No one put this much intensity into friendship. Brian saw him as a hookup. Nothing more.

Mal didn’t do hookups. Since his breakup with Noah, he’d preferred loneliness to the sharp disappointment of connection and separation, or the simple fact that people so often weren’t who he thought they were in the light of day.

He glanced at the clock over the bar. “Three minutes.”

Brian showed him another grin, this one not at all lazy. “Need some practice puckering up?”

“Fuck you.” Resisting the urge to stretch his lips, lick them, get all loose and ready for a kiss, Mal laughed. Then licked his lips, damn it.

Brian chuckled softly and raised his glass for another sip. He did it slowly, as though knowing Mal would watch him swallow and wonder what the drink would taste like on his lips. His tongue.

“Want a taste?” Brian asked, offering him the glass.

Mal accepted the glass and took a quick sip. The drink was strong and his head spun lightly. Putting it aside, he licked his lips again, tasting bourbon and something sharper, drier. Vermouth? The bitters touched his tongue last, a tangy aftertaste, and he could imagine how well an orange peel would go with the drink.

He was wondering how Brian managed to smell like oranges when the countdown began.

“Ten, nine, eight . . .”

Brian hadn’t leaned in. Should he do it?

“Seven, six, five . . .”

Should he take his glasses off?

“Four, three . . .”

What if he missed?

“Two . . .”

What if the kiss landed on Brian’s cheek or nose or—

“One!”

Oranges, cardamom, cinnamon, and musk. Warmth whispering across his lips in quick invitation before pressing down, lightly, without demand. Somehow their noses didn’t collide. Somehow, Mal’s lips were parting before a swipe of Brian’s tongue.

Brian didn’t invade, though. He teased. He waited.

Understanding flashing inside his head like a cracked blind at dawn, Mal leaned in and kissed back. Offered up his mouth. Tasted. Hummed at the delicious flavor of whiskey and man. The persistent hint of orange. The prickle of stubble as their mouths moved and realigned. He touched his tongue to Brian’s and opened his mouth. Brian swept inside and the warmth at the back of Mal’s neck now must be Brian’s hand. Oh God, it felt good.

So warm.

So necessary.

Then Brian was shifting back, blinking slowly, and noise crashed into the perfect bubble of their kiss, breaking the moment apart with cheers of “Happy New Year” and the lambent strains of “Auld Lang Syne.”

Mal breathed. Quaked. Ignored the near pain behind the fly of his jeans. Took another breath. “That was . . .”

“Some kiss.” Brian’s grin had that lazy aspect again.

About the author:

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.

Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.

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