Title: For Never and Always
Author Name: Ana J. Phoenix
Publication Date & Length: March 10, 2016 – 173 pgs
Seth finds himself alone at an abandoned train station, with no idea what happened, or how he got there. He boards a train, only to discover it’s a special express transporting the recently deceased to their final destination. The conductor tells him he’s having a near-death experience. Seth wonders if it has something to do with his violent boyfriend, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting the hell off the train before he actually dies. But when he spots his best friend and secret crush among the traveling dead, the urge to leave fades…
Holy Moly, this is an AMAZING story. Grab the tissues before starting, because once you start, you’re not going to want to put this book down. Phoenix was a magician in her ability to paint the story of Carter and Seth. Theirs is a love that truly transcends time, space and everything in between.
When you’re put on the train, it is a journey that you can’t help but fear and wonder about all wrapped in to one experience. The reader will marvel at the simplicity, complexity and unfairness of all of the characters’ involved.
While this story is not long, it never feels like a short story because of everything that is packed in to the story. The flashback and flashforward style was so effective. I think that if this had been written in a different style, it would not have had as much of an impact.
Carter was and has remained Seth’s first true love, crush, soul mate. Despite all that life has thrown at them, that has not changed. Phoenix wrote their story so completely and with such care that you can’t help but weep for their relationship.
I cannot say enough good things about this story – you will want to read, to love, to hate, to cry and re-read this again. It is moving, but not drawn out. Phoenix wrote this story so well that I will actively seek out more of her style.
5 Forever and No Regret Stars
Have you ever read a book that stayed with you and keeps vying for attention even while reading another book, or sleeping or eating or in the grocery store? This book is it. I still tear up thinking about it. This story grabbed at my soul from Chapter 1 and has not left my body, soul or mind. It has ALL the feels. It is that AMAZING even though I went through a box a tissues.
Ana Phoenix was creative and inventive on how to deal with subjects that most shy away from. Suicide, Cancer, Death. Death is usually grouped with words like sad, ugly, forbidden, perhaps taboo. In this story, I was saddened and heart-crushed, especially listening to Seth and his current life, as well as Carter, as what could have been. Ms. Phoenix wrote these two characters with such life, ironically in death, that you feel their sadness, their hopes, their frustration, and their love. This story was written so beautifully that I felt like I was there perhaps as an angel looking down at them, hoping that I could bring them with me when they accepted their life with no regrets. The secondary characters; Sandra, Eli and even the conductor were also felt. Their contribution to the story was short, yet left that impression on you that you wanted to get to know them. This story touched on so many subjects, and as the layers peeled away and secrets were revealed, you felt the compassion, the deep love and respect these two have for each other.
In the end though, through all the tears, death is not sad, ugly or pain. It is beautiful. Love is beautiful. It will always stand the test of time (and with these two, 80+ years), and will always be there for soulmates. Carter and Seth may NEVER have had each other in the living world, but will ALWAYS have each other in the after-life. I just can’t say enough how this story touched my soul, accept to grab your tissues, and take a ride on this very moving, very touching, very visual and heartfelt train of a ride. You will not be disappointed.
For a minute, they sat in silence with only the rumbling of the train disturbing the quiet. When it became apparent that Seth wasn’t going to start speaking, Carter asked, “Still want to go on that road trip?”
“Not without you.”
“Mhm… If we could go together?” It wasn’t possible, of course, but Carter wasn’t interested in reality right now.
One reason he hadn’t told Seth he was dying was because he’d enjoyed making all those unrealistic plans, after all, and he still did.
“I would go anywhere with you.”
“Yeah?” Carter let go of Seth’s neck and tightened his grip around his shoulder. “Where would you like to go first?”
Seth looked at him with that certain shine in his eyes he got when he talked about technology and space and all that.
“The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame,” he said, predictably.
“God, you are such a geek.”
“Geeks rule the world.”
“Yeah? I don’t know about that.”
“It’s true, though! We created the Internet and launched mankind into space. What did zombie fanatics ever do?”
“Uh… we make good movies?”
Seth scoffed. “We have Star Wars and Star Trek and—”
“Aren’t those the same thing?”
“Oh no, you didn’t!”
Carter laughed. He’d rarely seen Seth look so offended. But whatever it was Seth had been worrying about earlier, he wasn’t thinking about it now, and that was a win.
Ana writes m/m romance and erotica. Her interest in hot guy-on-guy action was first sparked by reading scandalous Japanese mangas. A dirty secret she couldn’t resist. In a long bout of insanity – also known as her life — she decided to learn the language and escape to the land of sushi, sumo, and yaoi.
She’s since moved back to Europe to be with the love of her life – delicious European chocolate.
Now she resides in the sunny part of Germany where she fills her days chasing her dreams and writing about men in complicated relationships. Her family believes she’s writing “erotic manga stories.” She’s pleased they got the erotic part right, at least.