Forever Kinda Love by Clara Stone

8/15/14:

Forever Kinda Love by Clara Stone

Life’s. Little. Surprises.

The last thing seven-year-old Carrigan “Ace” Casper foresaw was an eight-year-old Heath Lovelly walking into her life the day her mother died. From that moment on, Heath sticks by her side, slowly becoming her strength, her confidant, and her entire world. What she doesn’t know is, she’s his saving grace, too.

Ten years later, Ace is handed another crippling challenge that threatens everything in her almost perfect life. Only, this time, she doesn’t turn to Heath, hiding the truth instead. But Heath knows Ace too well and won’t back down easily. He’s ready to do whatever it takes and will stay by her side until she accepts that their love is the kinda love worth fighting for.

Will he be her forever triumph or her unexpected downfall?

Two lives.

One story.

And an unexpected journey to falling in love.

Forever Kinda Love is a special breed of romance. Romance authors (and probably some readers) refer to it as a “best friends to lovers” story. Having married my best friend, I can attest to the fact that this type of love resonates deeply. Who wouldn’t want to end up with someone they can call their best friend? It brings a sweet innocence to the relationship, a bond that’s as solid as steel. And Clara Stone has captured it perfectly.

Carrigan (Ace, as she’s called throughout most of the book) first meets Heath when she’s seven. Huddled in a hospital waiting area, the last thing she expects to find is a friendship that will last. But that’s exactly what happens. Flash forward ten years and Heath and Ace are seniors in high school on the cusp of graduation, and they’re inseparable.  But they’re best friends, and nothing more. Heath has kept his silent promise to watch over the little girl who lost her mom, keeping her carefully shielded from his player status and parade of non-relationships.

When Ace meets the mysterious Vincent, though, Heath starts to realize that his feelings for her go far beyond his promise to protect her. He’s jealous. And he doesn’t like it.

But what he doesn’t know is that Ace feels the same way. She secretly wishes for more with Heath, but can’t fathom the idea that he’d view her that way. It’s not until an unexpected illness threatens to break the two apart that they both discover the courage to speak up.

Told in a split POV, Forever Kinda Love is an emotional roller-coaster, full of “will they/won’t they” moments and heart-wrenching beauty. Stone brilliantly weaves an authentic, teenage voice throughout, and every single moment–from the fast, head-first rush of young love to the battles with insecurities we’ve all felt–rings true. The voyeuristic way readers are allowed to see things the characters haven’t grasped yet creates a dynamic pull that will hook you and keep you reading to the end. We know they belong together, and we know how they both feel, but the back-and-forth dance as the characters discover those truths is simultaneously frustrating and completely honest.

I read this in draft form, and I can honestly say that even in its roughest phase, Ms. Stone was able to bring me to tears several times. This is easily the most powerful romance I’ve read in a long time, and I highly recommend it.

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**Content Note: This is classed as a YA, but parents should be aware that the content, in my opinion, is appropriate for 17+ years.  It contains heavy swearing and steamy make-out sessions that will leave adults looking for a cold shower.**