February 13, 2014

Love It: Back Forever by Karen Booth

Series: Sequel to Bring Me Back
Format: PDF
Release Date: February 17, 2013
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Source: Author
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The sequel to 'Bring Me Back'.

Back together after a painful breakup, Christopher Penman and Claire Abby are looking only to their future. Christopher’s band is making a run at it after a long hiatus. Claire lands a magazine job she never dreamed she could get. Only a ring on Claire’s finger and a baby on the way could make things more complete, and Chris is determined they’ll have everything they ever wanted.

But when Claire’s dad starts behaving strangely, and her teenage daughter feels left out, Chris and Claire’s picture-perfect plans begin to unravel. A piece of devastating news casts doubt on whether they’ll have the life they envisioned. Through everything fate throws at them, Chris and Claire must find the good and hold on to it with both hands. They will have it all as long as they have each other, forever.

I read Bring Me Back last year (I republished my review for those who are curious) and loved it so much I was a little sad because it was a stand-alone read back then. So I was very elated when Karen Booth wrote a sequel and it's just as sweet and beautiful as the first one, my heart is still sighing in contentment since I finished BACK FOREVER. Claire Abby and Chris Penman are unlike other contemporary romance MC's in that they belong to the "mature" set and theirs is a second chance kind of story. Bring Me Back was a little angsty and heavy on the emotional stuff because like new relationships, Claire and Chris had a lot of kinks to work out. They eventually did and BACK FOREVER is their happily ever after.

It's rare  that we get to glimpse a couple's HEA so it's a treat to read Claire and Chris' in BACK FOREVER. Marriage, kids and all the trimmings of the white picket fence dream was present in this sequel. Things got a little overwhelming for everybody because of all the changes that's happening at the same time. Aside from the developments in their personal lives, Chris is planning a tour with his band and Claire's got the job of her dreams. But despite their New-York-Minute life, BACK FOREVER was relatively drama free devoid of ugly confrontations and all sorts of figurative bitch slaps, which is quite refreshing for a contemporary romance. I attribute it to Chris and Claire's ages, both being in their 40's and having gone through a lot of things in the past, they don't have time for BS so everything was straightforward and harmonious for the most part.

The conflict was mild in that it was centric to the concept of adjustment especially with Claire's daughter, Sam, and father, Richard. Though Sam loves Chris, she can't help but feel left out so Claire and Chris has to take extra care in including Sam in their bubble. Chris was the sweetest in that he was most sincere in making Sam feel that she is his daughter in every way and bonding with Richard in every opportunity. There were a lot of poignant moments throughout the story reflective of all the adjustments one has to make when one decides to be part of something bigger than oneself. BACK FOREVER is a great sequel and though I selfishly hope that there'll be more, I'm also satisfied with how KBooth closed Claire and Chris' love story.

This is from Chapter One. Christopher and Claire are in the bathroom at her house, waiting for the results of a home pregnancy test.

“Hold my hand.” She reached for me, her fingerswagging. “We close our eyes and open them on three.”
“Deal.” I stood as she did, enveloping her hand with mine. My eyes clamped shut as ordered; she began to count.
“One…Two…Two and a half…”
“Very funny.”
She giggled. “Three. Open.”
I blinked. I focused.
There it was.
One blue line.
I caught the sigh before it left my throat. Sharing my disappointment would only make her feel worse. I tugged her into an embrace, pressing my cheek to the side of her head. My fingers trailed through her silky hair. “Weren’t we just saying how much we like trying?”
She managed a quiet laugh, but trembled beneath my touch. “I didn’t want to say anything, but I actually thought I was pregnant.”
The admission only made me hold on tighter, never wanting to let her go. She wanted this as badly as I did and I’d talked her into taking the test. “It’s okay, darling. Really. And it’s still early, right? We could do another test in a few days if you’re still late.” I choked back intruding tears. “I love you so much, Claire. That’s all that matters.”
“I love you too. I’m just ready for this to happen. I don’t like feeling like our life is on hold.”
“Do you really feel that way?” You know she’s right. Our life is on hold.
“Yes. I hate seeing that look of disappointment on your face. I want to give this to you and it hasn’t happened.”
“I don’t want it to be more important than us.” You’re all that matters.
“You can’t deny that you want this very, very badly.”
“I don’t want it as much as I want you.” Am I the most daft man on the face of the planet? Without another moment wasted, I dropped to my knee, which hurt like hell when it thudded against the tile floor. “Ow.”
“Chris, what are you…” She looked down at me with genuine puzzlement, certainly warranted as she was in her pajamas, me in my boxer shorts, both of us in the bloody bathroom for God’s sake. Not the most glamorous of settings, but I think it works. Her lips were lovely andpoutyGet on with it so you can kiss her.
I took one of her hands, but failed to catch the other before it flew to her mouth. Her deep blue eyes were wide with wonder.
I cleared my throat and took a deep breath. I had one shot at getting this perfect. “Claire Abby, I love you more than I have ever loved another human being.” The words left me feeling as though my heart might burst out of my chest. “You are the most extraordinary and wonderful and frustrating woman I have ever met and I want you to be mine forever.”
She gasped. A giggle leaked out of her.
“Did you squeak, darling?”
“Maybe.” Her shoulders shook, her eyes watered. “Please, go on.”
I want you to be mine. Forever. Even if we never get to have a child together, I’m never letting you go. That is, if you’ll have me. Claire, will you marry me?”
Her other hand dropped and she smiled in a way that lefther cheeks as full as ripe peaches on a summer day, mine for the picking. Her face was such a distraction that for a heartbeat or two, I didn’t realize she hadn’t yet answered the question. I wagged an eyebrow, hoping she had no defense for that.
“Well?” I asked.
“Shhh.” Her smile returned as soon as she relaxed her lips.
“I’m savoring the moment.”
“Why don’t we savor the moment after you give me an answer?”

Front Men…They don’t make ‘em like they used to…
Or do they?
By Karen Booth

People often ask me to blog about music topics, and I’m all too happy to oblige, but how often is a girl asked to tackle front men? Almost never, right? Oh, wait. Now that I’m looking at this email from Braine…that wasn’t really what I was asked to do. Dammit.

Tackle-worthy or not, what makes a good front man? It’s about far more than being a singer. I’d hope everyone could agree on that. A front man (or woman, although I’m specifically discussing the fellas for this exercise, so cool your jets) must have an ability to funnel the entire performance to the crowd—they are the conduit between the music and the audience. You can have a kick-ass band, but if the front man’s a dud, you’re going down.

A good front man engages the audience and keeps them in the palm of his hand, never letting go. There are countless methods to employ, but first off you’d better be able to sign your damn heart out. If you can’t, how did you make it past the audition? This is why the band that lets the guy with a van be the singer will never make it. Auto Tune might help you squeak by in the studio, but you still have to be able to carry it off live.

Humor is another valuable tool, but jokes and banter must be somewhat fresh and not entirely rehearsed. Nothing worse than seeing a band more than once on a tour only to learn that the joke that seemed so organic two nights before, actually gets told every night. I know it happens all the time, but it’s still a bummer.

Emotion has to have a seat at the table, but I think that goes for music, period--recorded, on stage, or in the shower. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing and are able toconvey that, authentically, you’re sunk. People know it when you’re faking. Especially women.

Beyond that, there are the little things like smooth dance moves and traipsing over to share the mic with the way-too-hot-for-words bass player. If all else fails, you can always resort to the one, absolute, 100% successful, no-fail trick. Take off your shirt.

I could come up with a ridiculously long list of great front men, but these are a few of my favorites:

Mick Jagger
I’m sorry, but Adam Levine was just asking for it from me with “Moves Like Jagger”. Nobody has Mick’s moves. Nobody. The Stones are one of my all-time favorite bands so I felt like I had to put Mick on this list, but he’s not an overly gifted vocalist. What he does have is an ability to belt out songs with raw, sexy enthusiasm that is entirely genuine, the absolute real-deal. There’s no beating that.

I’ve seen U2 many times and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a front man with a better ability to connect with an audience. They are with him from beginning to end, soaking up every word, every awkward jig he does on that stage. He is the perfect example of why being genuine in music is the only way to do it—you get exceptional results.I still get goose bumps watching Live at Red Rocks.

(Squee! Bono is my rock star fantasy! Sorry I can't help but interject)

Dave Pirner
I’ve seen Soul Asylum over 100 times, no lie. Dave is almost the anti-front man. He just sort of does whatever he feels like doing, which mostly involves rocking hard and showing off that adorable Midwestern aw-shucks-ishness. It comes from the right place and the audience can pick up on that.

Simon Le Bon
I’m a long-time Duran fanatic, so this is a no-brainer. Simon is the whole package, equal parts showmanship and vocal talent. And I have to it hand it the guy. Modern-day Simon Le Bon is just as on it and smoking hot as 1984 SLB.

(Side commenting again... yes! Duran-Duran still rocks my pants!)

Michael Hutchence
RIP dear, beautiful Michael. I saw INXS perform my senior year of high school and they were absolutely incredible. My good friend Lara and I had front-row, center tickets and Michael crouched down during “Don’t Change” and held her hand through the chorus. I thought I was going to die. I’m shocked that Lara didn’t. The magnetism and electricity that Michael Hutchence gave off was something to experience. He certainly left us too soon.

This is just the tip of the iceberg…I could go on forever! Seriously. Sting? Chris Martin? Dave Grohl? Iggy Pop? Chris Cornell? Vernon Reid? Ian Astbury? Morrissey? James Hetfield? Bruce Springsteen? Prince? Neil Young? Jack White? Zack de la Rocha? The aformentioned Adam Levine? Who is your favorite front man?

Karen Booth is a Midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on 80s music, Judy Blume, and the films of John Hughes. An early preoccupation with rock ‘n’ roll led her to spend her twenties working her way from intern to executive in the music industry. Much of her writing revolves around the world of backstage passes and band dynamics. When she isn't creating fictional musicians, she's listening to music with her kids, honing her Southern cooking skills or sweet-talking her astoundingly supportive husband into whipping up a batch of cocktails.

Stalk Karen


  1. Ooh this sounds like a pretty good series. Great guest post topic too.

    1. I love love love it when Karen guests here. She always writes these amazing articles for me!

  2. angsty and emotionally heavy are right up my alley

    1. The first one was, this one not quite. Overall I think you'll love it just the same

  3. oh it's nice! I would have been so happy to learn that book I though as a standalone had in fact a sequel. A good feeling, mainly when you like a lot the first one. I want this to happen to me! that's not fair lol. I'm glad you liked it it sounds like a really good story and the end is always a difficult thing so when it's well done it's really perfect.

  4. I like romances that aren't heavy on angst and I think this would be a good fit for me, because as much as I hate to admit it, they are in my age group. Thanks for sharing this! What a list of hot men as well. Can't go wrong with Bono!

    1. Hahaha!

      Yup, love isn't just for teens and twenty somethings, it's for us older folks too!

  5. Love the idea of an 'After the HEA' story. Sounds great.

    Bruce Springstein was my guy though yeah, a few of these were on my list when I thought about it.

  6. Reading the excerpt made me want to check out the book! I love HEA stories. Makes my heart flutter like a damn butterfly wing!

  7. I don't read contemporary romance but I loved that excerpt. Way to tempt me with it, and your review. LOL

    1. You can always read it vicariously through us and I take it as a compliment that I'm tempting you

  8. Aw, glad you got a sequel. These sound good, and that cover makes me want to go swimming so bad.

    And Jack White is AMAZING. ;)

    1. Ditto, makes me want to go someplace warm, somewhere tropical

  9. Yay Hiii Karen *waves*

    I still need to read book one, but I'm glad to see you enjoyed book 2, Braine :)

    1. Don't wait too long! Claire and Chris' love story is one of the best ones I've read ever

  10. aww that was sweet of the author to write a sequel to a stand alone and show you how the character's are doing. sounds like this one was a very sweet story. Glad to see that it was told.

  11. I just finished Back Forever, Braine. LOVED it!! And I'm so glad you got Karen to do a guest post...that was awesome. I happen to love Bono AND Duran Duran still does it for me, too. ;)

    1. Hi5!

      Yeah I saw your review too and so happy you loved this just as much!


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