Thursday, December 13, 2018

Virtual Tour: Chasing Forever by Kelly Jensen (Review, Excerpt + Giveaway)


Chasing Forever is the final book in the series This Time Forever. Brian and Mal's story is special in all sorts of ways. Even though these books all standalone, Brian has been there since the beginning--as the character everyone loved to hate in the first book, and the character who seemed to have more to him in book two. In this final story, I share who Brian really is, and hope you'll all come to love him as much as I do. Then there's Mal, his other half, my serious soldier who has been waiting all his life for a challenge like Brian. Sometimes we have to be knocked lower than ever before in order to reach that high, and Mal's journey is one I treasure. I hope you enjoy reading this story of redemption and learning to live out loud.
About Chasing Forever
Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.
Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.
Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.
But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.



Excerpt:

The Mall
This is one of my favourite scenes in Chasing Forever. Brian takes his nephew Josh to the mall for a few things and discovers what shopping with a teenager is like. This experience will obviously vary from child to child, but I drew a lot of it from shopping with my daughter—who has a whole lot less attitude, but the same inexplicable fondness for black clothing. (I love colour!) Then there’s the sushi thing… And the shoes… And being the most embarrassing person in the mall, according to your teenager.
~*~
Brian took the exit to Short Hills Mall and circled the sprawling lot twice before finding a spot where he judged his car would be safe from door dings and teenagers with sharp objects. Josh peered through the windows with narrowed eyes the entire time.
“What?” Brian finally asked.
“I’m going to be the only person in this mall with blue hair.”
“And whose fault is that?”
Grumbling, Josh pushed open his door and practically threw himself under an oncoming car. Brian managed to get around the hood and collar him in time, yanking him back. “Jesus Christ! Watch where you’re going.”
“Like you care.” Cough, cough.
Fuck. My. Life.
The mall was busy, as any self-respecting mall would be the week after Christmas, and Josh did indeed standout, but not because he had blue hair. It was his attitude, which Brian had taken as typical teenager. Weren’t they all defensive and rude and waifish? Not according to the clientele of an upscale mall in New Jersey. The teenagers sprinkled throughout the mall looked and acted like models in a photo shoot.
Brian blended well with his dark, fitted denim—skinny jeans for the nearly fifty-year-old—a heavy button-down shirt and fine-gauge cotton sweater. He knew the soft blue of his sweater brought out the color of his eyes and flattered his skin tone and hair. And he knew his ass looked good in the jeans. It should. He’d done thirty minutes of squats and lunges before getting dressed that morning.
Josh, in his wool coat and baggy jeans, wasn’t underdressed. He was overdressed, and his furtive manner gave the impression he was ready to smuggle out half of every store in his pockets. Brian should have asked him to leave the coat in the car.
It was enlightening to watch Josh’s reaction to the mall and its stores. Brian recognized a lot of himself—all those years ago, and in fleeting instances now as Josh wavered between interest and a disdain that might be fueled by the knowledge he could never afford to wear that.
Brian paused outside a row of stores designed to dress the young and said, “So, we should get you at least one more pair of jeans. A couple of shirts. A sweater? Socks and underwear.” He indicated the worn black shit kickers taking up more floor space than Josh’s feet probably warranted. “And shoes.”
“What’s wrong with my shoes?”
“Nothing. But you can’t wear them every day.”
“Why not?”
Because shit kickers don’t go with everything, Brian had been about to say. But who was he to judge? Also, he was a self-confessed shoe whore who never wore the same pair twice in one week if his outfit didn’t demand it. Glancing down at the deep burgundy ankle boots he’d put on with his jeans, Brian pursed his lips. “How about a pair of sneakers?”
“All the better for running.” Josh’s upper lip curled in a sardonic manner before he nodded toward a store across the way. “How about there?”
The store was Brian’s worst nightmare. Unlike the places on their side of the walkway—neat, color coordinated, and playing bland, contemporary music to bland, contemporary shoppers—the store on the other side was black on black on black, with streaks of purple graffiti and a window display of clothes that had surely been rescued from donation bins across the country.
“I don’t see any Giants’ gear in there,” Brian said, referring to the hoodie Josh wore under his coat.
Rolling his eyes, Josh started across the mall. Brian followed.
Several hundred dollars later, Josh had two new outfits, only one of which bore rips and tears not rendered by excessive wear.
Tucking his credit card back into his wallet, Brian said, “I cannot believe we paid eighty bucks for a ripped pair of jeans.”
“You paid it, not me. Can we get something to eat?”
The food court was another adventure. Being lactose intolerant, vegetarian, and turned off by the texture of most vegetables—including beans—meant the only option was sushi. Apparently Josh’s version of vegetarianism included raw fish.
“So you’re a pescatarian.”
Josh shrugged. “Sometimes.”
Brian hated sushi. The very idea of it turned his stomach. He also harbored a lingering suspicion that anyone who ate it was either riddled with intestinal worms or about to expire from mercury poisoning. Josh inhaled thirty bucks’ worth, his cough never interfering with the slurping of rice and raw flesh.
Gross.
They picked up sneakers (black with a black logo), sweats (dark gray, thankfully not already distressed in any way), and a purple sweatshirt with a skull and crossbones across the back. Brian was exhausted by the time they turned toward the car. But when they were passing the cell phone booth in the center of the mall, he called out, “Hold up.”
Josh looked up with a bored expression, as if he weren’t holding most of Brian’s weekly wage from string handles looped around his wrists. “What?”
“Let’s get you a phone.”
“I have a phone.”
“Who’s paying the bill on that one?”
Josh scowled. “Whatever. If she cancels it, I’ll live.”
“What if I need to call you?”
“When? After you’ve found me some other place to crash? No, thanks.” Josh turned away.
“Don’t you have any friends you’d like to stay in touch with?”
Under the wool coat, Josh’s slim shoulders hitched up and down. A shrug? Did that mean no?
“What about your brother and sister?”
“I’m pretty sure Ava has moved into my room by now, and Liam is just like Uncle Will.”
Assuming Liam was short for William, apparently well named, then. “You could try calling your mom.”
Josh spun around, his bags flaring out in an arc of expensive rainbows. “Why? She doesn’t want to hear from me.”
“She’s . . .” Mad wasn’t the right word. Mad didn’t kick a kid out onto the street. Deluded might be better, but . . . “She’ll think things through. Ellen isn’t stupid. She has to know—”
“You don’t get it.” Josh’s lower lip quivered. “I can’t go back. She won’t take me back, and even if she did, I wouldn’t go. You didn’t hear what she said. She said I was unnatural and that God had no place in His world for people like me.”
Brian shuddered inwardly as more unwelcome memories rolled through him. His father speaking in low, biting tones. His sister screaming. His mother looking on, expressionless.
He glanced around at the audience he and Josh had managed to attract—gazes averting as he met them, the not-so-subtle open mouths—and lifted his chin. Put away the past.
He’d long ago decided not to be ashamed of who he was. Of whom he loved.
“None of that is true,” he said, his tone inviting no argument. “God made you as you are, Josh.”
Also aware of their audience, Josh flung himself into a turn and stalked off. Brian strode after him and resisted the urge to reach for his collar. Again. How did one rally a recalcitrant child? Leashes were only for pets and toddlers, weren’t they?
“Josh.”
Josh kept moving until they were back at the doors they’d entered by. There, he turned, stony-faced, and lifted his chin. Then a fit of coughing caught him, and Brian experienced an odd urge to hug the kid, this lost little boy. Brian’s chest was constricting and hurting and whispering secrets he didn’t want to hear. Josh wouldn’t thank him for a hug, though. Brian remembered enough about fourteen to appreciate that. So he stood there, feeling all kinds of useless, until Josh had stopped coughing.
Eyes red from the effort, Josh finally looked up. “Can we go?”
“Yeah, we can go.”


4 Stars

Who knew Brian would turn out to be villain who's not a villain? Best tale of the series.


This book is the 3rd in the This Time Forever series, and until I started reading it, I hadn't clocked about the relevance of the title of the series. Now that I have, I think it's lovely that the author has gone with older leads, who've lived, loved, lost, taken stock and realised what's important, and now they've found love again - this time, forever. And yes, in this book in particular, with all that happens to Brian, the not-so-baddie, it really does feel like it's forever.

After reading book 1, I had no clue that the villain of the piece, Brian, who I really didn't like, could be turned into lead man material. I mean, he'd been the guy obsessed with money, the opportunistic one, the one who left his ex in order to manipulate him, the one who'd cheated... so, not a hero, right? Well, here we see a very different side to him, mainly because of the arrival of his nephew, Josh. TBH, it almost felt like Brian and Mal's romance took a back seat to the decency that I started to read about and see in Brian, and the love and protectiveness that he'd begun to feel for a 14yo kid, and his effort on behalf of Josh's school's GSA and the community. And, the beauty was that I believed in him, because the author wrote him so well, revealed him in layers, and made me feel for him. For Brian, the one who'd been painted a baddie in book 1, and reading this book and how it pans out, I suspect it was deliberate, and I think it was a good move. It made this book all the more poignant for me, because his real nature had been obfuscated. Very much so.

The romance in this is sweet - one guy who's a go-getter, rich and sophisticated and suave, falling for a mild, sweet, hometown guy of a schoolteacher, and it worked. It worked because they were opposites, but opposites who could tell the truth and who cared, and because they were RL flawed, mature men, not model-types as abound in pop MM.

I liked book 2 of the series better than the first, but I think the author saved the best for last with this one. And, yes, we get to see brief appearances by the other leads, with Simon and Charlie from book 1 having been together for over a year now (and Simon and Brian end up clearing the air, and I think, getting on the right ground to rebuild their friendship), and Frank from book 2 seeming a hometown guy than the sophisticated, flirt-with-everyone guy from book 2.

Again, though, it hurts to see a parent rejecting her child because he's different, because he doesn't meet what she feels is the right criteria for a human being, and to hear what Josh was called and what he went through, was not nice. But, it sadly didn't surprise me, as this is something that seems to be a common in RL. It made me hate Ellen, and again it made me think that some parents don't deserve to have kids, and don't deserve the honour of the name 'mum' or 'dad'. And, once again in 2018, this was a book where I read between the lines, and think I saw an author's discontent with her country's current government and leadership and attitude to anyone who's not heterosexual. It wasn't overt, just a passing phrase, but it once again reminded me that authors in MM have a voice that can be used for more than a bit of escapism, for the good of the LGBTQIA community. And here, it was done entirely organically, but it hit me. I hope it hits others and makes them think.

ARC courtesy of Riptide Publishing and NetGalley, for my reading pleasure.


About the This Time Forever Series
Small towns and second chances.
Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.
This time it’s forever.


This series includes:
  1. Building Forever — released October 15
  2. Renewing Forever — released November 12
  3. Chasing Forever — released December 10
About Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.


Connect with Kelly:

Giveaway
To celebrate the release of Chasing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 15, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

9 comments:

  1. Hi! Great post! Hoping to read her books recommended here.

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  2. Thank you to this blog for the intro to Kelly and her work. I now consider myself a fan. (jozywails@gmail.com / Audrey Stewart)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I enjoyed the post and hope to read more.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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  4. Thanks for the review!
    jlshannon74 at gmail.com

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  5. sounds like a great series
    jmarinich33 at aol dot com

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  6. Congratulations on the new release Kelly!

    specksus.js@gmail.com

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  7. Thank you for the excerpt!
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

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  8. Congrats on the new release! colby69@verizon.net

    ReplyDelete