Many of my favorite authors write characters I want to hang out with. Some of my favorite authors write characters I would run from if I were actually faced with them in real life. Helena Greer writes worlds I want to live in.
For Never and Always is a second chance/secret marriage/marriage in trouble romance with inspiration from Rapunzel. Carrigan’s has been Hannah’s refuge and her place of power. The way her anxiety manifests, it has also been her prison. In her relationship with Levi, it is the bone of contention. Unlike Hannah and Miriam, Levi was not a favorite of Cass Carrigan’s. She never seemed to approve of him, and being on the outs with the woman everyone else loved made growing up a Carrigan’s stultifying. But Cass surprised them all by leaving the farm to Hannah, Noelle, Miriam, and Levi. Now Levi has returned. More than anything, he wants to win Hannah back.
Because he’d seen every corner of the earth, and not a single mile of it was worth a damn without her.
Hannah and Levi have to deal with the fallout of knowing they were in love but still not able to make it work. Knowing that love isn’t enough, can they rebuild their relationship in a way that lets them both fully be themselves? Because this is a romance, you know that they will, so the fun is watching the way they rediscover themselves and each other. I love when a romance acknowledges that there needs to be more than love and good chemistry to make a relationship function. Can they listen to each other? Can they compromise with care and compassion? Having gone out into the world, Levi has learned that love is worth effort and compromise. What really makes this work is that Hannah and Levi are adults in their thirties who screwed up their marriage in their twenties.
Update: I have to add a whole new paragraph because another reviewer articulated something I dance around here in a review for a completely different book – making one’s self small vs. compromise. After a peripatetic childhood, Hannah needed to stay at Carrigan’s to feel safe. The conflict with Cass made Carrigan’s feel unsafe emotionally to Levi, he needed to leave. To make their marriage work one of them would have had to cut pieces of themself away to fit into the other’s idea of safety. After a few years of the safety they needed, they’ve grown enough that their safety is less about where they are and more who they are.
I love that Greer lets Cass Carrigan be a hero, a villain, and an enigma. She was imperfect. We’ve gotten so bad at letting people be complex and difficult to know that it’s a relief to see a much beloved person also be problematic, and they can never explain themselves. The people who mourn Cass have to figure out their relationship to her as they process new information.
This is why I say I want to live in the world Helena Greer writes: she values imperfection over perfection. Season of Love and For Never and Always find their happiness as they settle into the imperfect. Happiness and joy are found in compromises, a little chaos, and the willingness to be uncomfortable occasionally. This really was a joy to read. I can’t wait for the next book and fingers crossed that there will be a next book. Update: Hers for the Weekend has just been announced! At last we will get Tara’s book. So excited!
I received this as an advance reader copy from Forever and NetGalley. I am friendly with the author on social media, and have done my best to ensure the review is based solely on the book itself. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.