With You Forever
With You Forever thinks young. Very young. To the point where you’ll feel a little curmudgeonly by the middle of the book, wondering why these kids just won’t talk to each other like grown-ups. But the writing is cutely inoffensive, and the plot fairly fun. It does pining well, even if the pining makes no sense in terms of the plot.
Rooney Sullivan is a pushy, sunshiney can-do gal. She’s known Axel Bergman for years now (her best friend is his sister-in-law), and the whole time she’s quietly stifled her crush on him. Little does she know that Axel has been secretly harboring a crush on her for years too, though they’ve only actually encountered each other once, briefly, during a family party. Rooney accidentally kissed Axel during a game of charades, and while both felt something, they never tracked each other down. While this begins to change everything between the two of them, it takes a lot more for their mutually held love to come to life.
Rooney is suffering from a health crisis (chronic IBD), and she takes a break from law school in order to recuperate. A friend offers her a stay at a remote house, and she is shocked that Axel is there, trying to paint in relative peace and solitude while at the same time attempting to supervise repairs on the dilapidated place. A dog, a kitten, and a promise of an inheritance which Axel needs to repair the cabin push them both toward marriage. But will it turn into a real one?
With You Forever has a very youthful feeling to it. It has a definite YA direction to its prose, and its characters – filled with breathless monologues laden with internalized yearning – feels a little immature.
There’s no real reason why Axel and Rooney can’t pursue their affection for one another other than their personal reluctance, so many a silly plot twist is thrown in to keep them from talking or connecting (his brothers show up to visit and remind fans this is a series; she hurts her back). The pining is of high quality but never really bothers to make actual sense. It’s as if the author pointed to a trope and had to think very hard about the way to stretch anything resembling tension from the premise.
The book definitely has some nice# ownvoices rep – Axel is autistic, and Rooney’s got her aforementioned IBD. The IBD feels mostly realistic, but on one occasion Rooney has an attack and then goes on to seduce Axel. Huh? They have to learn to work around their problems to make a solid union, and that otherwise works.
There are cute animals, and many a cameo from previous couples in the series, and I genuinely liked Rooney’s ridiculous sunniness. But in the end, With You Forever feels a little too silly and juvenile to be taken seriously. That doesn’t mean it’s not cute enough for a weekend read, but it probably won’t land on your keeper shelf.