BLOG REVIEW: Never Again by Theresa Paolo

It may have been hard getting over ex-boyfriend Hero's abandoning her more than a year ago but 18y.o. heroine is now pretty content with her life.
She's starting college, albeit a lesser college of choice due to her poor grades after Hero abandoned her. But she has a new boyfriend and her best friend lives with her.
It was, therefore, a shock to see 18y.o. Hero at her college, even taking the same class as her. She tries to snub him but he seems to be everywhere she is & shares the same friends she has.
He’d like to be friends again but she can’t forget how he broke his promises to love her & never let her go and the resulting pain she went through.  His kindness and caring start to break through her walls and make her rethink her feelings for him. Can they go back to how things were before?
Can she trust him with her heart again? What of her current boyfriend?

The romance between the main characters crossed over from their high-school years to their first year of college. The book was told from heroine’s point of view so we learned about her high-school romance with Hero from her reminiscing.  We felt her anguish, resentment, and bitterness with Hero. We saw her confusion about her contented life with her new boyfriend & the reappearance of her buried feelings for Hero.  She had successfully moved on from Hero and hadn’t even thought about him for months. So his coming back and wanting some kind of relationship with her was understandably confusing. Heroine typified a teenager with her first romance and first heartbreak and the resiliency to eventually move on with life as new opportunities arise. Her life was steady until Hero’s return, where she became a mish-mash of emotions. So her kissing Hero while still her boyfriend was not shocking. It took Hero’s restraint to stop and make her reassess things more clearly.

Hero was a likeable guy overall. He sounded like the perfect boyfriend—considerate, sensitive, funny, respectful,  and expressive.  He’d always been there for heroine and understood her even without her saying anything to him. So it was very unlike him to just stop calling her months after he & his family moved away & not even have the decency to break things off formally with her. He literally dumped her. And the more insulting part was how he stayed in constant contact with heroine’s brother but ignored her.  His reason of being scared did not justify the way he rejected and abandoned her. So for him to come back to town and want to be friends without explaining why he did what he did and profusely apologizing and even groveling to her was insolent, to say the least. Yes, he was only a teenager but he was a considerate & respectful person. So his mistreatment of heroine and his major omission to explain himself then apologize was glaringly out-of-character and just plain wrong.  He did redeem himself by his characteristic caring and kindness to heroine & others, including her boyfriend.  And he definitely showed his selflessness with the way he took care of heroine and facilitated things for her family when her brother got injured.  

Hero and heroine could have a HEA(happy ever after). Their separation and reunion showed them, especially Hero, how valuable their romance was.  Hero regretted what he did to heroine and I believed that he wouldn’t take their relationship for granted the second time around. 
I wish we knew more about exactly what fears he had to make him dump heroine the way he did. He mentioned being scared about their relationship in general but it wasn’t explained with more details. Was it a new fear or something he’d been wrestling with for awhile? Why stop contacting heroine cold-turkey & not end things by letter, text, or email? Did he fear that he wouldn’t’ be able to go through with it? Did he really think that his doing so would make things easier on her? Since he knew her very well and made many promises to her, did he not consider how she would react when he stopped contacting her? I also wish we knew what he did during the time they were apart. Did he date other girls or did he just regret and pine for heroine?  How, what, and when did he regret letting heroine go?  There was a clear sense that if Hero never came back to town they would probably never have reconciled. It seemed more like convenience (versus fate or destiny) to see if they could rekindle those old feelings since he was back in town. It wasn’t very romantic but it fortunately went that way for them. 

My main beef with their romance was that they didn't feel strongly enough for each other to go out of their way and fight for their relationship. The way Hero dumped her more than a year ago and wouldn't have pursued her until he came back to town showed his lukewarm feelings for heroine.  Heroine's relative steadfastness to continue her relationship with her current boyfriend (especially her resolute plans to give up her virginity to him) after having seen and even kissed Hero again showed she could take or leave her second-chance at romance with Hero. I wish her boyfriend wasn't used as a plot device to get rid of him. He was a nice but clueless and unromantic boyfriend she didn't mind having so to have him turn out to be somebody different at the very end made her choice of dumping him and taking up with Hero too easy. I would’ve liked to see heroine do the grown-up thing and make hard choices from complex situations.

I moderately recommend this book.

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