Promises of Forever by Nicky James; Narrated by Nick J. Russo

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.

Beautiful second chance story - brilliant narration

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. All except the outgoing, popular boy from his cabin. 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 Reid 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 his and 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 the mistakes he made before be a barrier?

Although Koa is now a respectable English teacher at an elite boarding school, Jersey quickly learns that the boy with dark secrets from camp is more troubled than ever.

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 his savior once. He was kind when no one else was. Jersey made him feel safe in an unsafe world.

Until he 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, hurt / comfort, jock and nerd dynamic, opposites attract, mental health. **

Lesetiger's review:

I loved everything about this book: the wonderful writing, the story, Koa and Jersey, the layered characters portrayed, the flashbacks, the great secondary character Niles, all the emotions, the second chances, the poetic passages and the brilliant performance by Nick J. Russo.

The story captivated me from start to finish. Once I started listening to the audiobook, I found it very difficult to press pause. Two days and I had finished the audiobook. And it certainly won't be the last time I listen to this masterpiece.

Jersey and Koa meet at summer camp. Koa is teased by the other children and he behaves differently from all the other children. With Jersey, he begins to form the tender bonds of a friendship. A promise is made at the last summer camp. Promises are forever - until they are broken.

The story takes place 30 years later and I love it when the characters are a bit older. Jersey's life has also been bumpy and when he returns to his parents' house, he discovers letters from his childhood and makes contact with Koa after 30 years. Koa is now a respectable English teacher, but he has never learned to be happy.

Koa's attitude to life broke my heart. I would have loved to hug Koa right at the beginning and whisper to him that everything would be okay. I admired Jersey: for his honesty and for his strength to scratch at Koa's walls in order to be able to tear them down at some point. Niles was a lifeline, a great character who was always there for Koa.

The story is very intense and emotional and the tension is there right to the end. Another plus point is the connection I felt as a reader between Koa and Jersey. A connection that was already very strong in their childhood and is strengthened in adulthood.

An outstanding story about a second chance with lots of emotion, learning to trust and ultimately allowing happiness.

Nick J. Russo is a brilliant narrator. I felt every single emotion of the characters and felt like crying at times, but I could also smile at times. He did a fantastic job bringing this story to life!
Highly recommended!

Reed Kaye's review:

Tear your heart up story. Nicky is back at the normal broken characters I just have to love.

Jersey has made plenty of mistakes. From when he was a child till present. Then he tries to be more than his past. When he finds letters from his childhood friend he decides to get in touch again.

Koa has been what people consider strange since he was a child. Most people don’t know about his past or his reasons for being “strange”. He has had a past relationship that just didn’t work out and they even became bff’s but it isn’t until Jersey gets in touch with him that his life changes. Koa isn’t sure he wants to reunite but Jersey is persistent.

This story broke my heart with both lovable characters lives. Jersey has made mistakes, some he can’t undo and some he is trying to resolve. Koa’s life is just one tragedy after another. He was raised by a grandfather who didn’t know how to deal with a kid. He had other situations that contributed to his problems and these followed him his whole life.

This is Nicky writing those stories that put her books on the top of my watch list. Nick J. Russo has done an excellent job again bringing so much reality and emotion to these characters.

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