Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
“I would have found you. Without you, there is nothing.”
How does one choose to read a book from a new author? Some of us choose it from a cover. There is something about it that grabs our attention, and we one-click it. For others, myself included, it’s the blurb, the story synopsis that pulls at a thread of curiosity. Or maybe it’s the reputation of the author: he/she is your unicorn author or an author who makes you one-click fast because their her books feed your book addiction. Whatever your reason, you find yourself opening the page and finding yourself in a world beyond your own.
For me, I’m a sucker for story. For this review, you should know that I am new to Natasha Madison. I read the blurb for This is Forever and knew that it would be my book crack: hockey player, single mom, impoverished conditions. What’s not to love? When I was chosen to read it as an ARC for an honest review, I was ecstatic. I love reading new to me authors because they expose me to more and more romance. It affords me the opportunity to read other styles of writing, and it adds to the scope of my reading and writing. And Natasha Madison…well, she didn’t disappoint with this book. It was everything I was hoping for.
This is Forever continues Madison’s This is series. In this book, Justin, the youngest of the Stone family, is living his life. It’s the off-season, and he is scheduled to continue to work on his skills, along with hosting a hockey camp for underprivileged kids for his foundation. As he arrives at camp, he meets Dylan, one of his campers, and Caroline, Dylan’s mother. From their first meeting, Justin finds himself drawn to Caroline. He feels a strong connection with her and her son. As the story progresses, Justin falls more and more in deep with Caroline, and he wants to protect them at any cost. As a single mom, Caroline is conditioned to take care of her son. Living in poverty and just getting by, she believes sacrifice and hard work will help them survive. Yet, at each turn, she finds more problems. When Justin enters her life, he wants to help her, but she struggles to accept his aid, her pride driving her decisions. Spending more time together, Caroline finds herself falling in love with Justin. However, is she worthy of him? Can they have a life together, or will Caroline’s past end any future for them?
For me, Justin is my favorite in this story. Madison constructs this hero who is equal parts compassionate, insightful, and a warrior. This is a man who is willing to sacrifice himself for Caroline and Dylan. He’s easily caring, and he falls deeply for Caroline quickly. That’s probably my favorite part of Justin. While Madison tries to slow his interest for Caroline down, this is impossible. His character becomes wrapped around the finger of Caroline and her son, and it’s a beautiful thing to read. He becomes literate in Caroline, and his ability to read her easily and respond accordingly makes you fall easily for him as the hero.
While Justin is the highlight of the story, Caroline is enigmatic. She is equal parts strength personified and prideful. It’s her pride that creates the tension of this story. What ends up happening between Justin and Caroline is a constant negotiation. Since Justin learns to read Caroline so well, much of the story is Justin anticipating her responses and offering her other solutions. Honestly, sometimes, this can feel onerous. As a reader, you want Caroline to simply accept him. Yet, it’s Caroline’s character in these moments that force you to appreciate her strength and tenacity. Madison’s crafting of Caroline is a clear nod to the power of a woman’s spirit. In this, Caroline becomes the perfect challenge for Justin.
Natasha Madison’s This is Forever is a vivid reminder of family. In this book, she illustrates the idea that family doesn’t have to be constructed through DNA. Justin’s compassion and sacrifice for Dylan and Caroline become more familial than the ties of Dylan’s biological father, Andrew, to his son. It’s this lesson that adds depth to Caroline and Justin’s romance, adding gravity to Madison’s romance. If you’re a fan of hockey player heroes and single mom heroines, then you’ll love Natasha Madison’s This is Forever.
In love and romance,