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REVIEW: Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin

Dear Heidi McLaughlin:

I really wanted to read this book after reading the blurb and hearing Tori from SmexyBooks raving about it. I asked for a review copy and you kindly sent me one. I suspect that my discontent with the story will be a lone voice because there is a lot in the story that will likely appeal. However, I really struggled connecting with the female protagonist and felt the male protagonist was an emo stereotype.

Liam and Josie were high school sweethearts and went to college together, with every intention of settling down together at the completion of college. Liam decides he wants to abandon football and pursue music and cannot have any entanglements of his past interfering with his future. He breaks up with Josie one night and runs off, never to contact her or their two best friends for ten years. It isn’t until his former best friend’s death that he returns to his hometown to face Josie and all that he left behind.

To say that Liam does not grovel enough is an understatement. He does absolutely no groveling. I’m not sure he is even sorry for his actions. Sure, he is sad that he did not speak, email, text or have any contact with his former best friends, but ten years later, he still maintains that it was the right thing because Liam is too weak to be able to handle contact with anyone associated with Josie. I’m sure I am supposed to see this as a sign of his great love for her, but it came off as self absorbed.

I changed my cell phone number because she wouldn’t stop calling. I had to make a clean break and Mason was part of that. She and Katelyn were best friends and he’d tell her where I was and what I was doing. It was better this way.

In the intervening years, Liam has become a huge rock star and still loves Josie but soothes his broken heart with a string of one night stands from female concert goers. Liam has not respect for these women (or for any woman who is not Josie or Katelyn).

Forever My Girl Heidi McLaughlinHe is constantly running down the women he had slept with in the past and those that show up at his gigs. Girls that sleep with him one night and then expect more are dumb asses. “I didn’t pick you for your brains.” Women who wear short skirts at bars “just shows how easy they are.” The slut shaming felt extreme in this book. Where was Liam’s self shame and disgust at his own actions? His only feelings of regret had to do with the fact that the women he was sleeping with where not his one true love.

Why wasn’t the question asked about whether he respected himself or women in general? When one of the women he had a two night stand with announced she may be pregnant, he flees and treats the resultant miscarriage with relief.

She suggested marriage; I freaked and flew to Australia to learn to surf.

She miscarried two months in. I made a vow that we’d keep things professional from that point on and that is when I started my one night stand routine. Despite everything, she still loves me, and is waiting for me to change my mind.

The good girl that resists and the bad girl that wears short skirts and flirts at concerts are bright lines in this novel and perpetuate this concept that women deserve to be treated differently based upon their attire. A girl can wear a short skirt and flirt at a bar without being “easy” or not worthy of respect.

Then there was Josie who has never stopped loving Liam but has a serious boyfriend and fiance in Nick, a local pediatrician. When Liam returns after a ten year absence, there is no question as to who is going to win out in the love triangle. The protracted dance of uncertainty was disappointing, particularly when Josie fails to act as an adult and make a proactive decision about her love life.

This story is heavy on the emotional angst as Josie thinks constantly about how Liam broke her heart but how Nick is better for her. Liam internally rages against Nick and plots on how to win Josie back. It is a reunited lovers story with the added benefit of Liam as the rock star.

I can see this appealing to the crowd that is looking for the NA type books. The characters are in their late 20s but it still felt young. I liked the alternating first person point of view. I have a feeling I might be the odd person out but I didn’t like or respect either character. C-

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. Brie
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 16:16:17

    This one sounds a lot like that awful book The Perfect Game, or whatever the title was, where the hero cheats on the heroine and says the other woman is a slut for tempting him with her evil ways. But we both know that slut shaming is running rampant these days and apparently it’s a very romantic character trait…

    Thanks for the review, I wanted to read this one but now I know that it won’t be for me. Also, why is this book NA? Books with the exact same plot are a dime a dozen in contemporary romance.

  2. Shelley
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 17:08:03

    It seems like there is quite a crop of these types of books out and I’m still not getting what the appeal of these characters are. Do the majority of young women secretly fantasize about being treated badly? I’m confused.

  3. Jane
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 17:12:42

    @Shelley: The heroine is treated great by the hero when he returns. He pursues her avidly plus she has the great fall back option of the pediatrician. I think this falls under getting the guy that every guy wants to be and every girl wants to be with.

  4. Shelley
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 17:20:01

    @Jane: So she’s fickle or just playing her cards close to the chest?. Though I wonder if her feelings do/would change if/when she finds out how he’s treated other females? I know mine would.

    ETA: Plus there would have to be serious groveling. :O)

  5. Jane
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 17:44:42

    @Shelley: In many of these books (Thoughtless, Vincent Boys, Taking Chances) the female protagonist never makes a decision. It is always made for her. In this book, she doesn’t break it off with Nick even though it is apparent she is going to end up with Liam. I think that I am supposed to see her struggle between the two as genuine. But Nick tells her that the three of them (Nick, her and the son) are going to go to Africa for Doctors without borders. This allows her to break it off with Nick because he’s shown to be a Bad Guy for not considering her feelings but that behavior by Nick is unusual given his unswavering devotion and clearly done just to make sure that her hands are clean.

    As for the other women, I think some readers enjoy knowing that the other women are terrible sluts with no morals. It makes it easier to buy into the HEA? It’s akin to how you can’t have a former wife be good because then the second love just isn’t true enough. One life – one love. It’s probably why the soul mate story is so compelling.

  6. Shelley
    Dec 22, 2012 @ 18:37:48

    @Jane: Can you say contrived? I have come to despise this type of book. I’ve had to learn to put a halt on my reading if I run into an overabundance of this. I used to keep plugging on, hoping things would get better but they never did. Not to say there aren’t contrivances in many books but I can overlook some minor defects if the rest is good. When the entire book is dependent on them to drive the story, then no, I can’t.

  7. Susan/DC
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 16:47:41

    So Nick is bad because he wants her to join him in working for a medical charity in Africa, but Liam is good even though he’s slept with approximately half the female population of the US between 18 and 30? Really?

    I understand that some women dress inappropriately and I can roll my eyes with the best of them at those outfits. But for a male character to grossly generalize about their moral character (as opposed to their bad taste) does not make him a hero in my eyes. I do not see his judging women on the basis of their clothing as a sign that the heroine is his True Love, just that he’s possibly a misogynist of the first order.

  8. Shelley
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 17:45:43

    @Susan/DC: What’s worse is the author, apparently a young woman (late 20′s-early 30′s?), perpetuates this stereotype and joins in with some other writers (I don’t use the word author) who’ve been putting out this crap and helping to make this “The Thing” in romance. “The Thing” containing the following: hero (I use this term loosely) treating the heroine like crap in general, being a drug user/alcoholic/sex addict with no real repercussions or rehabilitation, hero treating female population in general like shit just because, the heroine having no backbone, third guy in triangle getting the short end of the stick and in this case being manipulated into being the “bad guy” with no purpose other than to make sure H/h end up together, instant forgiveness on heroine’s part no matter what god-awful things hero does, cheating with no real repercussions, and I could go on and on but my fingers are tired.

    What’s weird is, I cannot find this book on Amazon, Kobo, or BN. She has a website but it’s not too terribly revealing about anything except her playlist for this book and reveals the fact that she got the idea for this series after seeing a pic that a friend posted and thinking about it for 90 minutes. 90 whole minutes, huh? She is on GR which touts tons of excellent reviews from her “squee” (God, I hate that word) girls.

  9. Jane
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 18:03:22

    @Shelley: Huh. I thought the book was going to be released earlier. I wouldn’t have posted the review otherwise. My mistake.

  10. Shelley
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 18:21:37

    @Jane: On her website she says the 27th but there is nothing at all anywhere and I know I’ve seen books either up for pre-order or just up, right? Am I crazy?

    ETA: On GR it has 47 reviews but doesn’t release ’til 12/27? Is that normal?

  11. Kini
    Dec 29, 2012 @ 08:38:22

    This book was just meh for me. Apparently I’m not deep enough to have seen the slut shaming, but looking back I can see your point. The bigger issue for me was I never really felt connected to Josie or liam. And Josie made it very easy for Liam to walk right back in to her life. There was zero groveling. they seemed to spend very little time together reconnecting or getting to know each other as these new people that they should have grown into. Lastly I have issue with the description of New Adult. Based on the description of him being gone for 10 years, having left during their first year of college, they would be about 28. 28 is not a new adult. I think college or fresh out of college is new adult, after that not so much. I have very little interest in the rest of the series.

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