Hello Goodbye #2


Sarina Bowen

 ✮✮✮ 4 STARS  ✮✮✮

What are the odds…

Axel loves basketball, is young, single and out-of-the-closet gay and has been offered his dream job at Barmuth University. He watches an online stream of one of their Basketball games to decide whether the job, being responsible for the sports teams’ marketing, would be a good fit.  The camera zooms in, his eyes fall on a familiar face, a face from his past. And just like that his decision has been made.

If it weren’t for his brothers Cax would never have returned into his hometown after graduation but watching over them, while they have to live with their abusive father has taken up precedence. He works as a teaching assistant at Barmuth and loves watching the basketball games. When he realizes that the one guy he ever kissed, the one he had to cut out of his life because of his father, works and lives in the same town, he has an inkling that his life is about to become way more complicated.

Axeldental & Caxtastrophe…
Axel is out of the closet and determined to stay there when he moves to a small university town in Massachusetts. There isn’t a homophobic insult he hasn’t heard. He is quite comfortable in his own skin, sweet and easygoing…and terrified of meeting his first love again. Their first meeting is awkward but thankfully they quickly fall back into a grown up version of the easy friendship they had when they were kids. Axel is exceedingly patient with Cax, and it becomes even more prominent when he sees with his own eyes that Cax didn’t exaggerate when he told him about his problems.

Axeldental to Caxtastrophe: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that’s how it is, and I’m sorry I made you talk about it. And I’m really sorry that there isn’t some way we can spend time together. But at least I understand now why we can’t.

Cax’ fear is so tangible in this story and it is so understandable! His father terrorizes him and has been since that day all those years ago, when he kissed Axel. Cax’ brothers mean everything to him, he wants them to feel comfortable to contact him when they are in trouble so he needs to make sure that he stays in their lives. Which means staying firmly in the closet because his homophobic father threatens that he will never see his family again if he ever finds out that Cax is in a gay relationship. Which also means denying himself a life and love. It is unfair and infuriating, especially when you feel the yearning they feel for each other.

Before Axel came to Henning, I’d only suspected that my life sucked. Now I knew that it truly did.

It was lovely to see how Cax gained self confidence with Axel’s backup, how he leaned more and more on his childhood friend and lover. I fist-pumped when Cax took charge and went out of his comfort zone to right the wrongs. I adored him for being such an amazing brother.

The trust we had for each other was like a cocoon surrounding the bed.

If you take a closer look at the two families you see a glaring difference in both of the heroes’ upbringing. Axel’s mom is accepting of his sexual orientation On the other hand you have Cax’ father who has already started to affect his other kids with his homophobia. The story shows nicely how tolerance and intolerance is being infused by your upbringing. Parents have power and it’s up to them to use it wisely.

Sarina Bowen’s books are always special. They are touching, poignant and usually come with a truckload of emotions. These two men share a tenderness and love for one another that radiates off the pages. I loved that we got to see Josh and Caleb. They hold a special place in my heart. I also love the world this author has built for us. It feels familiar the moment you open the book – it’s a bit like coming home.
While this installment didn’t quite reach the level of Goodbye Paradise it was still a heartwarming, sweet and important story packed in a very quick read with 200+ pages. Now I am wondering if Sarina will write Jason’s book which I will definitely read.

Hello Forever is the second part in the Hello Goodbye series and can be read as a standalone.

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