Promises of Forever by Nicky James

Jersey is reminded of the special friendship he had as a child, and tries to recapture those feelings by seeking out the boy whose heart he broke 30 years ago. But Koa is not ready to let Jersey or anyone else into his unemotional existence, there would be no point, not even for the boy he once trusted.

From the Promises of Forever blurb:

Life can change on a dime.

Childhood tragedy left Koa Burgard with many scars. Reclusive and still healing, he is sent to summer camp, where the other kids tease and bully him. All except outgoing and popular Jersey Reid. A boy who dreams about being a hockey star. A tentative friendship forms. Every summer, they reconnect for adventure. Every winter, they write letters back and forth.

Promises are made, and promises are shattered.

Thirty years later, the sudden death of his parents brings Jersey home. Rotten things keep happening. His life has been full of torment and pain, and he can’t remember a time when he was happy.

Will it ever stop?

Cleaning out his deceased parents’ house, he uncovers Koa’s pen pal letters. Can Jersey recapture the happiness and innocence of youth by reconnecting with the strange, quirky boy he befriended at camp so long ago? Or will his prior mistakes be a barrier?

Although Koa is now a respectable English teacher at an elite boarding school, Jersey quickly learns that the boy from camp has darker secrets than he ever imagined.

Koa has given up on happiness. His views on life are bleak and disturbing, and he’s learned it’s better to be alone in an unforgiving world.

Jersey’s return offsets Koa’s balance and brings the past back into focus. A past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget.

But Jersey was Koa’s savior once. He was kind when no one else was. Jersey made him feel safe in an unsafe world.

Until Jersey broke a promise.

And promises are supposed to be for forever.

** Promises of Forever is an angsty MM romance with the following themes. Second chance love, jock and nerd dynamic, opposites attract, mental health. Please check the trigger warnings on my website **

SNik's review:

Standalone. Second chance. Childhood friends. Hurt/comfort. Opposites attract. Mature characters. Slow burn. Dual POV. 

Having lost his special friendship with Koa 30 years ago, Jersey tries to reconnect, but Koa is both the same and different, and earning his trust and friendship back will require patience and understanding. Koa doesn’t really believe in happiness or love, he only exists after having suffered tremendous tragedy and horror in his past, and bottles any and all feelings away so nothing can hurt him or affect his carefully structured life. 

There is no instant healing when Jersey and Koa meet again, and the process of their relationship is slow, careful, and delicate as they relearn how to exist with each other and rediscover the depth of their feelings for each other from their childhood and how it translates to who they are as adults together. The writing in this story is beautiful and descriptive, the background of Jersey and Koa explains their individual differences but also the sense of rightness whenever they are together, and has realistic secondary relationships where some are incredibly supportive while others cannot be repaired. A captivating story.

Promises of Forever is currently available as an e-book and paperback and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited Subscription