The Next Forever
by Alix Kelso
Friendship begins beneath cherry blossoms. Can it turn into love?
Meet Chrissie Sullivan – baking whiz, cake shop owner, and a woman on the brink ever since her grown family moved back into the house. When her meddling mother enters Chrissie’s shop into a prestigious wedding cake competition, things get even more complicated. Chrissie never expected still to be alone in her fifties, but her hectic life doesn’t make it easy to find a little romance.
Meet Keith McGraw – pub landlord, whisky lover, and a man who’s perpetually unlucky in love. He thinks he’s happy living alone, until his chaotic ex-wife reappears and turns his life upside down, making him wonder if the woman of his dreams might still be somewhere out there after all.
When Chrissie and Keith meet in the park, a friendship begins beneath spring cherry blossoms as they seek shelter from their messy lives. But as romance sparks, they must run a gauntlet of calamities that threaten to keep them apart. Can they find what it takes to overcome the mayhem and give love one last chance, or risk a future filled with regret?
Treat yourself to THE NEXT FOREVER, a sweet, funny, feel-good story about family, friendship, and falling in love when you least expect it.
Earlier this year, I read the author’s first Fairhill novel – The Perfect Moment – and was instantly charmed by the characters, especially Keith McGraw. For him to get his own story delighted me, giving me hope that he would get his own chance at happiness. The Next Forever shines a spotlight on Keith, one he thoroughly deserves.
As a thrice-married, thrice-divorced lover of fine Whisky, Keith has all but given up on finding someone with whom to share his life. He books a tour of whisky distilleries, a tour he has promised himself for a long time and one which he is prepared to take alone. Aww! Bless him.
Unfortunately, Janice happens – his ex-wife turns up, sobbing and desperate, the night before he’s due to leave on his trip. There’s no way he can go now – not because he has any feelings still for Janice, but because he dare not leave her alone in his pub. So, he cancels.
Having offered to sort out a wedding cake for a customer-friend, Big Kev who is struggling to keep up with his wedding to-do list – because that’s the kind of man Keith is: big-hearted and generous – Keith heads to Chrissie’s cakes.
Chrissie finds herself in the shop on her day off after a distressed bride-to-be gets into tizz over her wedding cake (such a tizz that the young woman has even got the date of her appointment with Chrissie wrong) when Keith arrives, and despite being swamped with orders , she agrees to take his order – because that’s the kind of woman she is: warm-hearted and selfless.
You can see where this is going, right?
Chrissie, living alone until recently, is now feeling the stress of accommodating her daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend, and their young child. Her home is not her own anymore, and the boyfriend is a prolific DIY disaster who wrecks more of Chrissie’s belongings than he repairs. Add to that, her mother has entered her in a cake competition at an upcoming wedding fayre.
So, when both Chrissie and Keith escape the dilemmas of their home lives for a breath of fresh air, they find each other on a park bench beneath the cherry trees.
A friendship blossoms, one that has great potential for a future relationship. It’s as if their lives aligned on the park bench that night. But of course, the road to romance is cluttered with one issue after another that sees their attempt to even go out to dinner thwarted time and time again. Misunderstandings, overreactions, self-doubt and thoughts of being unworthy of love seek to keep them apart.
The story is brimming with realistic characters, believable circumstances, unfortunate external interferences and so much humour. Often, it is Keith and Chrissie themselves, who suffer as a result of their own generosity and sense of duty. Such is their nature to care for and help others that their commitments impede their own chance of happiness.
Both characters ooze warmth, and will have you onside from the start, willing them to be together. Their journey is tested by real-life situations and frustrations, all of which makes it such an easy, effortless read. Charming, full of heart and a lovely way to pass a few hours. Everyone should visit Fairhill for a dose of warmth, humour, charm, and hope.