The Feeling of Forever
Heroes are normally large, brawny men who are practically indestructible, so reading about a man adjusting to his new circumstances was a wonderful change of pace. I applaud author Jamie Howard for creating a hero with a disability. The Feeling of Forever is strongest when showcasing its leading lady helping her man move past his limitations to see what he’s capable of.
The editors of Celeb! Magazine have spoken and the year’s sexiest woman is none other than Juliet St. Clair. With her popularity on the rise it’s no wonder Juliet was selected but the photo shoot couldn’t have come at a worse time. After weeks on location for her latest movie all Juliet really wants to do is go home to New York and stay out of the limelight for a well-deserved rest. A mix-up by her personal assistant doesn’t leave Juliet much of a choice but to accept the scheduled appointment with the magazine; however what has her really confused is their additional request that she sign a non-disclosure agreement before arriving at the shoot.
The non-disclosure document is one of the conditions drummer Felix Donovan’s people requested when he was named the year’s sexiest man. His band The Downfall is still high on the charts from their last hit single but a planned tour was put on indefinite hold after Felix was hurt in a freak accident and paralyzed from the waist down. Having to rebuild his life around his disability over the past year has been a tough transition for Felix. He was always the one teasing people who were self-conscious about their appearance, but just thinking about what the fans will say about him being in a wheelchair has made him a virtual recluse. If it were up to Felix alone, he wouldn’t have accepted the silly title or agreed to the photo shoot. The other members of the band are sure the exposure will help the group bounce back from delays in releasing new music. Reluctantly, Felix accepts their decision and shows up at the studio hoping the magazine and this year’s sexiest woman will help him keep his secret just a little bit longer.
The photo shoot gets off to a poor start for Juliet when her modeling partner shows up thirty minutes late; however once she sees Felix’s condition she immediately changes her attitude and tries to make things go as smoothly as possible for him. She is no stranger to people with disabilities as her younger sister has been struggling with juvenile Huntington’s for years. Hoping to distract Felix from his insecurities Juliet begins asking him a few nonsense questions until he relaxes. The game changes from a simple distraction technique into full on flirting between the pair but they each leave the studio unsure if they’ll ever cross paths again. Fortunately for them both Juliet accidentally leaves her cell phone at the studio and Felix decides to return it personally as an excuse to see her again.
Felix and Juliet move quickly from friends into a full blown relationship but there are dangers lurking that jeopardize their new found happiness. An obsessed fan has started sending threatening letters to Juliet’s home despite all of the security she’s put in place to protect herself. Things escalate when Juliet is sent photographs taken from somewhere just outside of her building by the stalker. Felix is desperate to protect his girlfriend from this fanatic but being by her side will expose his own injury to the public. When the stalker puts Juliet in the hospital it becomes clear to Felix that his fears about his secret are nothing compared to the terror of losing her for good.
The Feeling of Forever features two people very much in the public eye, but they are both so well grounded that their romance is easy to relate to. Juliet is a somewhat reluctant celebrity and has worked hard to keep her private life separate from what the press and paparazzi get to see. Behind the façade of the sexy, glamorous actress is still a girl who loves her family deeply and will go to great lengths to protect them. Juliet appreciates her fame but still enjoys the simpler things in life, like binge watching a television show or simply hanging out with friends. Felix gets a glimpse of the real Juliet during their magazine shoot and it’s enough of a draw to him that he begins to crawl out of his self-imposed exile in order to get to know her. Her welcoming nature becomes a safe cocoon for him to discuss his fears and how they can be managed with a public lifestyle.
Juliet’s stalker and the dangerous edge to his obsession with her is incorporated into the story quite well. Readers are lulled into a false sense that the plot is only focused on Juliet and Felix’s relationship, with her fan being just another part of her fame. His menace slowly increases from sending disturbing letters to proof that he’s stalking her and then rises to physical threats. Once Felix and Juliet are clearly a couple, Felix sees how much Juliet has been affected by this person’s threats in the past and how they’re escalating now. It spurs him to action, both in protecting her but also in reclaiming his public life to show the press that Juliet is supported and loved. There’s an unexpected twist relating to who is really out to hurt Juliet and it gave me chills to think that sometimes we are not as protected as we want to believe.
Ms. Howard has fun with her characters in The Feeling of Forever by balancing their celebrity lifestyles with the things that matter to all of us, like love and security. It’s a cute story that had me laughing and biting my nails at the same time. I’ll be very interested to see the other band members featured as the Love Unplugged series continues.