Seth wakes to find himself alone in unfamiliar surroundings. He sees a train station in the distance and as he’s compelled to board the train, he realizes it’s transporting the deceased. After a conversation with the conductor, Seth learns that he is the only one that can leave the train as he has not yet passed on and is having a near-death experience.
Seth cannot remember how he came to be at the train station, but suspects it may be linked to his abusive boyfriend. He’s determined to get off at the next stop before he actually does die, but then he spots Carter, his best friend and forever crush. Carter has to figure out how to move on without regrets before becoming a lost soul and Seth may just be his biggest regret of all. For Seth, finally getting a chance to be with Carter is definitely keeping him on the train. But Carter won’t let Seth give up and for both men to move on they have to give up their longing for their missed opportunity.
When this book opens, Seth is confused as to where he is. He can remember everything about his life except for the last few moments. As he realizes where he is and that he has a chance to return to the living, that is his goal. He just has to wait for the next stop. He does recognize Carter immediately when he sees him, but then questions how his best friend can possibly be there.
Seth does wonder if his current situation is the result of actions taken by his abusive boyfriend, Tony. For the past three years, Seth has become more isolated and trapped in his life as he bends to Tony’s needs. It had become so bad that Seth let his friendship with Carter slide a bit as Tony was extremely jealous. Seth had always been secretly in love with Carter, but Carter never gave Seth any indication that he was anything but straight, but Carter wasn’t completely honest with Seth.
The book takes place almost entirely on the train with a few well placed flashbacks or memories of Seth and Carter’s friendship, as well as Seth’s abusive home life. The train offers a place to push aside your regrets, a necessity to be able to move on, and there are specialty rooms available on the train to confront those lingering issues. Carter is in danger of not being able to let go of his regrets and becoming a lost soul. Seth can’t imagine a life without Carter in it and doesn’t want to leave him.
It’s an unconventional love story but the ending did start to become clear as definable boundaries had been set in place. Of course, I did have questions, but there are no real concrete answers as it’s an interpretation of crossing over. For even in the afterlife, love can have a price and there is always another deal to be made. The book deals heavily with the burden of regret, the importance of memories, how to love, and how to die. But, even with all of the serious subject matter, it was often simple in its execution.
Seth and Carter had a love that was never acknowledged in life and was allowed a chance to bloom in death. If you are looking for a story that deals with the afterlife with a touch of romance, For Never and Always is a good choice.