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).
He 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-