Forever Summer by Nicole Bea
Morrigan Westhaver isn't convinced anything could make her forget her abusive ex-boyfriend — not even if she travels all the way from her home in Michigan to her father's ranch in Alabama. Saved text messages and voicemails haunt her life with poisonous words and crippling self-doubt, but she can't seem to let them go. On the ranch, much to her surprise, she immediately takes to a rescued horse, Stormy, as well as Levy, an attractive ranch hand. Will their understanding and gentle support help her heal, or is the damage too deep?
Grab your cowboy boots and hat because this is one hot summer romance! Forever Summer, categorized as a new adult western romance, follows teenager Morrigan (Mo) as she’s sent to live at her father’s horse farm in Alabama for the summer after a traumatic incident. Emotionally raw and hesitant to let others in, Mo isn’t prepared for farm life - or for the handsome farmhand, Levy Rider.
Romance isn’t normally my go-to genre, but I absolutely adored this book in more ways than one. It was honest and relatable and cute and realistic enough to picture happening on any southern farm. And, of course, I was able to relate to Mo on a personal level.
The reader learns from the first pages that Mo is running from a toxic relationship - well, running in the sense that she’s not supposed to see her ex, and her parents think she needs to get away in order to heal. Bea does an incredible job writing just how broken Mo is. She doesn’t simply share Mo’s memories and thoughts; there are actions throughout Forever Summer showing just how scared and hurt she is. Avoiding eye contact or closeness, flinching it’s all very realistic and makes the reader sympathetic to Mo’s struggles opening up to her father and Levy.
But the empathy doesn’t end with the characters. Mo’s father has just taken in a handful of rescue horses, and Mo bonds with one she names Stormy. Skittish at first, Stormy bonds to Mo, and the two learn to trust each other and those around them. Even when danger hits too close to home.
This is such a wonderful story about growth and self acceptance, and it’s certainly made me re-examine myself in a new light. I laughed, I cried, and I cheered for Mo as she took each step in this journey. If you’re a fan of country music, I absolutely recommend listening to Doin’ Fine by Lauren Alaina after you’ve finished Forever Summer.
You can learn more about Nicole Bea and her books on her website (https://www.nicolebea.com/) or on Wattpad as @seasidebreezes.