Forever Innocent by Deanna Roy
Publication date: October 1st 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
“Our baby died on prom night, and nothing was ever the same again.”
Corabelle doesn’t feel like any of the other college girls. On what should have been one of the happiest nights of her life, she and her boyfriend Gavin watched a nurse disconnect the ventilator from their seven-day-old baby. During the funeral two days later, Gavin walked out and never returned.
Since then, her life has been a spiral of disasters. The only thing that has helped is her ability to black out whenever the pain gets too hard to bear, a habit that has become an addiction.
When Gavin shows up in her astronomy class four years later, he is hell-bent on getting her back, insisting she forgive him. Corabelle knows she can’t resist the touch that fills the empty ache that has haunted her since he left. But if he learns what she has done, if he follows the trail back through her past, her secrets will destroy their love completely. And once again, she’ll lose the only person who always believed she was innocent.
Forever Innocent by Deanna Roy is truly a heart breaking, emotional roller coaster of a read. It was one of those books that could be read in one sitting, but I personally was getting way too emotionally involved and had to take a couple breathers. It is a very well written duel POV between Gavin and Corabelle, I equally enjoyed both perspectives and thought it gave a lot of depth to the story since both characters had their own set of personal demons even though they experienced the same tragedy.
Corabelle is damaged from the start, she is starting at a new school and consciously cutting herself off from any deep relationships. Even her best friend is a girl she only sees at work and class. As bits and pieces of Corabelle's tormented past come to light it becomes apparent that her unrelenting grief of losing her 7 day old child consumes her entire life. Gavin had grown up with Corabelle. They were best childhood friends who bloomed into each others' firsts for almost everything. When Corabelle fell unexpectedly pregnant Gavin not only stayed by her side but also purposed to her. But their world was forever changed when their baby came premature and had a life threatening heart defect. Corabelle's grief and self blame were multiplied one hundred times over when Gavin left, never to be heard from again right after their baby boy's funeral. The hardships followed Corabelle with her to college and then again 4 years later when she transferred schools to attend UC San Diego only have none other than Gavin be a fellow student in her astronomy class. Both Gavin and Corabelle had done massively destructive things to themselves over the passed years, but the spark in their relationship was still burning strong. But ultimately they had to decide whether fate had brought them together again to continually torture their souls or finally find healing for themselves in each other.
This is one of those stories that will emotionally rock you to the core. Roy does a phenomenal job of writing characters that the reader becomes incredibly empathetic with and creates such a believable and relatable state of emotional and mental anguish. She does not simply say "Corabelle and Gavin's baby died" she created the entire scene of them being in the hospital that week with him, teenagers having to make medical decisions for their baby to remove him from life support, and having to be with him as he passed (there is no way any mom finished reading that part with dry eyes). I also had a very great appreciation for the way she wrote grief and depression not just as tears and sadness, but also the physical toll it takes. This is definitely a NA book, but far far from smutty. The sexual relationship between Corabelle and Gavin is undeniably hot, but more utilized as a way to continue to show the many forms of grief and loss. The book does end with a sequel to come, I am curious to see how Roy will continue the story, it was so good that I have a fear the following book could be a bit on the redundant side. I really hope not, it just didn't seem like there was a whole lot left to tell without creating a whole new set of circumstances for the couple.
Deanna Roy is a sucker for romance and drama and dumps hefty amounts of both in her novels. She is also a powerful advocate for baby loss moms and has founded multiple support groups for women, from teens on up, who endure this impossible heartache. Her other novels include Baby Dust and Stella & Dane: A Honky Tonk Romance.