The Forever Girl (Wildstone) – ARC review

The Forever Girl
by Jill Shalvis
Release Date:  January 12, 2021
Publisher:  William Morrow
Book #6 in the Wildstone series
Number of pages:  400
Source: NetGalley ARC
Contemporary Fiction/Romance M/F
Rating: R
Read 1/3/21 to 1/5/21

When Maze returns to Wildstone for the wedding of her estranged bff and the sister of her heart, it’s also a reunion of a once ragtag team of teenagers who had only each other until a tragedy tore them apart and scattered them wide.

Now as adults together again in the lake house, there are secrets and resentments mixed up in all the amazing childhood memories. Unexpectedly, they instantly fall back into their roles: Maze their reckless leader, Cat the den mother, Heather the beloved baby sister, and Walker, a man of mystery.

Life has changed all four of them in immeasurable ways. Maze and Cat must decide if they can rebuild their friendship, and Maze discovers her long-held attraction to Walker hasn’t faded with the years but has only grown stronger.

This story is more about family than anything else. There is still plenty of romance, but the relationship between the people in this made family are the most important connections.

Caitlin is getting married, and what she wants most for her wedding day is to have her brother and sisters there with her. She grew up the biological daughter of wonderful parents who took in foster children through the years. This group of Maze, Walker, and Heather, along with Cat, have a special bond. But things have been rocky the last few years and Cat wants her family back. So she kind of tricks them all into spending a week at her family cabin before the wedding.

As much as I adore the chemistry between Maze and Walker, there were so many other beautiful connections going on through this story. Platonic and not. Maze’s friend Jace, who went along as her plus one, is beyond amazing. I feel like saying too much on any of these relationships, or even the particulars of what drew me to certain characters, could be a bit spoiler-ish. Sorry if I’m being vague. I’ll do my best to get the feelings across without ruining things.

I was fully invested in the heartbreak of Maze and Walker and seeing them find their way back to each other. The interesting thing was how close these two were in some ways while none of the others knew the true nature of their relationship. This gave them the space needed to come to some realizations about their feelings and themselves. Maze needed to learn to forgive herself for things nobody blames her for anyway. She needs to learn that she is enough and is worthy of love. For his part, Walker needs to learn to communicate. He thinks he says enough, but he’s so careful about what he says that those that love him know there is depth he’s keeping hidden. He often reflects on Maze having to speak her mind and say what she wants, but is blind to the fact that he does the same things to her. If he doesn’t speak his full truth instead of bits and pieces, Maze can’t accept that the connection she feels is reciprocated.

Caitlin broke my heart more than all the others in many ways. From the outside, it would seem she is the one with it all together. But she’s hanging on by a thread. Her story, peppered through these pages, had me rooting for her to open her eyes and learn to trust her inner voice as much as everyone trusts her outer voice.

Watching this family finally click into place, with one another and within themselves, was truly a joy.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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