Whatever, Forever by Lael R. Neill

FOREVER
Whatever, Forever by Lael R. Neill
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (42 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 2.5 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

Audrey Taylor and her older sister Kelsey splurge on a two-week vacation at an upscale dude ranch in central Washington State. While Kelsey unabashedly pursues her goal of finding a rich boyfriend and goes clubbing, gambling, and drinking with a self-proclaimed movie producer, Audrey enjoys a flirtation with the handyman.

Dave is a down-to-earth maintenance man who knows how to do almost anything that needs to be done on the ranch. He invites Audrey to accompany him for an afternoon of riding fence and shows her the best scenery, he encourages her to go river rafting and to join a skywatch party. Finally, at the height of the Perseid meteor showers, they share a midnight tryst. But not everything is as it seems, and both sisters are in for a surprise.

Things are not what they seem at The Wedding Ring ranch, and Kelsey and Audrey are about to discover that.

I loved the idea of Dave’s hidden identity and how Audrey fell for him without knowing he’s actually the owner of the ranch and many other properties and companies. It gave their love a feeling of genuineness and innocence. The premise of the story has a lot of potential, and so do the characters, particularly Dave and Audrey, but I felt like they weren’t given a chance with the length of the story being so short.

I wished for a longer story which would allow for a more in-depth characterization and more detailed background of the characters. As it was, we got a few bits of information about Audrey and Dave, but other characters, like Kelsey, were virtually an unknown. This made the characterization very black and white, with no space in the text for some interesting nuances. The development of the romance between Audrey and Dave could also have been more detailed and gradual, and consequently stronger. Maybe it was the rushed development of the story, but on occasion the narration felt immature, particularly in Kelsey’s scenes.

While the interactions between Dave and Audrey flowed smoothly, the scene where they made love felt awkward – the too detailed descriptions kept getting in the way. Even in the rest of the narration, some word choices were surprising and they kept distracting me. Just one example: riposted instead of said.  The author has serious potential, though, and I look forward to trying more of her stories as her writing matures.

Whatever, Forever is a quick read about how important it is to love someone for the right reasons.

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