Rating: 2.5 stars
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For Heath Rawlins, his new job aboard the mega yacht Eternity represents a sea change. After years in the merchant shipping industry, the Eternity offers him a promotion and a chance to work with Theo Gourdin. Theo is everything a captain should be — commanding, loyal to his crew, and a model of leadership. And he may just be the man of Heath’s dreams. Both men try to resist their obvious attraction in order to remain professional, but doing so proves to be impossible.
As desire leads to love, Theo and Heath must acknowledge there may be other forces at work around them. Memories and experiences that are not their own begin to invade their lives. Another couple from another time becomes entangled with Theo and Heath’s love affair and they feel all too familiar. Is it Fate drawing two souls together across time or is it something else altogether?
Right from the start, Scotty Cade acknowledges that some will view Only Forever as a case of insta-love, but he asks readers to give the story and its characters a chance. So I approached this novel with an open mind. And really, really tried to like it, but I never quite connected with Only Forever. Both Theo and Heath are intriguing creations, and while we aren’t given fully formed characters, they are developed enough to move their relationship forward. The author gives readers enough basic terminology regarding seamanship to create a real sense of place and this is one of Only Forever’s strongest assets. Additionally, there is a sweetness to Theo and Heath that I really enjoyed. But they definitely fall prey to insta-love and the idea of a fated romance never fully evolves, which leaves the entire story foundering to some extent.
Only Forever feels uneven. Almost from the start, readers are given the sense that things are moving too quickly and that the characters have no real control over their own destinies. Fate has stepped in to bring Theo and Heath together and, while this trope can occasionally work, it fails to do so here. We’re never told enough about Theo and Heath’s previous incarnations (at least this was how I interpreted this particular aspect of the book) to either care about them or their relationship. The Fate aspect of Only Forever just fails to work and as a result, Theo and Heath don’t have a particularly believable romance. The entire novel takes place over the course of a couple weeks and the secondary cast, which are skeletal in their development, are thrown in every now and then without purpose or need. Had this book drawn out the action and allowed the relationship between Theo and Heath evolve in a natural way, I think Only Forever would have been incredibly good. And the Fate aspect could have worked as well because our other couple could have been portrayed more completely.
Only Forever has the bones of interesting and involving story, but collapses under the weight of its own literary tropes and never really recovers. The main characters are rather endearing and there is a strong sense of place associated with the ocean and shipping. But these aspects aren’t enough to pull Only Forever out of the quicksand it creates for itself.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.