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Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite
Jeanie Ashford is a woman who has lived a life full of love and heartache, joy and despair. In Once And Forever Love by D.J. Phillabaum, Jeanie looks back on her life, from her first failed marriage that occurred when they were too young to deal with grown up matters, to the love and loss of a great man. She is a woman on a journey that takes her across the country and back in search of love, understanding and second chances. D.J. Phillabaum does a good job of capturing that fragile state where a woman wants to enjoy being with a man, but hasn’t really been taught how to ask for what she wants. The sober way Jeanie talks and thinks is as clear a picture as any of how she feels about her self-worth as a woman, and watching that picture change was a pleasure.
Once And Forever Love offers a unique look into the growth and growing up of Jeanie. The woman she was at the beginning of her life is but a distant memory in later years. She is a survivor and D.J. Phillabaum is adept at capturing that without beating us over the head with it. Jeanie did what she had to do, as a woman had to in those days, but eventually she decides it’s time to grab a piece of happiness for herself. Jeanie and Adam had a second shot at love and they went for it, despite the obstacles that tried to keep them apart again. This wasn’t a very fast paced story; it was sedate, but a lifetime of love, happiness and loss isn’t exactly a thrill ride. I thought Jeanie was a strong woman who made choices — good and bad — that shaped the woman she ultimately became. Once And Forever Love is the kind of story that makes you want to take your chances now, while you’re still young enough to enjoy them.