BLOG REVIEW: Forever Innocent by Deanna Roy

22y.o. college senior attends her first class at UC San Diego and is shocked to see her ex-boyfriend Hero there.
It was 4 years ago since she gave birth to their son who struggled to survive at the hospital for 7 days.
She hadn't seen Hero since the day of their son's funeral, when he walked away. Never to be seen & heard from until today. Hero sees their accidental meeting now as his second chance with her but heroine has a hard time getting past the heartache & betrayals of the past. 
She tries her best to avoid him & even attempts to get out of their class but fate seems to have a different plan. She takes a risk and gives their relationship a chance and things go well with them. 
Until his recent past collides with their present and heroine is reminded by how much of his life the past 4 years she knows nothing about and how different he's become. When they begin confessing some of their past secrets, their new-found bliss crumbles. 

This book had an unexpected cliffhanger at the end.  But the angst & the electrifying connection between the main characters were written so well. As jerky as the Hero may have been and many questions still unanswered, the characterization, plot, emotional tone, dual point of view(POV), and romance grabbed my attention and emotions.  The very first chapter hooked me into the drama about to unfold between the 2 estranged lovers. Their shock at seeing each other again after 4 years was riveting. They had so much history together. They were neighbors and best friends since very early childhood. Their close friendship quickly transitioned from some experimentation to romance in their teenage years. Their sweet young love, their school & career plans, and the promise of their HEA(happy ever after) was shattered by the premature labor, fatal heart condition, and death of their newborn son.  It took only 7 days to ravage the almost-perfection of their young but solid romance. It was heartbreaking to read it, especially since we get full details of what happened in the hospital from when she gave birth to their son until after they took him off his ventilator. Just hearbreaking. Then for Hero to just leave heroine the way he did. After the funeral. No warning. No contact at all until their surprise meeting 4 years later. Talk about angst.

Their current romance was brimming with so much emotion from the past and their strong emotional and sexual connection now.  And Hero was intent on getting another chance at romance with heroine now. So it wasn’t surprising for usually-distant heroine to succumb to a hot affair with Hero soon.  It also wasn’t surprising that their current romance blew hot and cold. They had so much unresolved within themselves and between them. Plus there’s the mystery of what they’ve been through during their 4-year separation.

     ----------SPOILERS: Don’t read below if you don’t want to know the book’s details-----------

What heroine still hadn’t told Hero:
1.  She smoked pot frequently in their last year of high school to help her with her test-taking and Hero didn’t know about it. She was still smoking pot when she got pregnant but didn’t know she was.
2.  She would hold her breath when stressed and would sometimes pass out. Hero knew about this. But he didn’t know that heroine would sometimes deliberately hold her breath as a way of connecting with their deceased son.  Sometimes it’s to connect with their son’s experience of dying (i.e., being cut off his ventilator). But sometimes it’s a wish to connect with their son by dying.
3.  She had not dated or been with another man since he left her.

What Hero still hadn’t told heroine:
1.After their son’s funeral, he took off to Mexico to get a vasectomy. He blamed himself for his son’s death, believing that it’s his inherited unworthiness a father from his abusive dad that cursed their son to his death.  Disabling his fertility would prevent any more of his future kids from suffering the same fate.
2. He viewed himself as unworthy as a romantic partner also from the way he left & neglected heroine. So he limited himself to only having sex with prostitutes.

     ---------------------------------------------END SPOILERS-----------------------------------------------

We know bits and pieces of their past from their alternating POV. But we still don’t know the full story, especially why Hero took off after the funeral without ever contacting heroine for 4 years. Why didn’t he share his insecurities and plans with heroine? Did he ever consider the further pain he caused her by leaving her so soon after their son’s death?  The unanswered questions regarding Hero’s leaving heroine made him look like a major jerk. He acknowledged and was apologetic for his mistake at leaving her. His love for her was still apparent. His desire to get back with her so intent. But I couldn’t help but be wary of how long and strong his good behavior and attitude would last. And, sure enough, we saw how stress broke his good intentions. He reacted so badly to heroine's confession of her secrets that she started walking towards the ocean, intending to drown herself because he reacted even worse than she imagined. The book ended there. Now I’m hoping to see if and how much he atones for his continuing betrayal of heroine. I’m really hoping for a good grovel and a convincing HEA between them in the next book(s).

I recommend this book.

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