Book Reviews

How to Forgive (LOVESTRONG 6) by Susan Hawke

Genre Gay / Pansexual/Panromantic / Nonbinary / Contemporary / Bikers / Romance
Reviewed by ParisDude on 01-October-2020

Book Blurb

Take one fabulous unicorn of a person…

Grayson Davis came back to their hometown after college to help a new generation of kids who might be reliving their own past as a bullied young teen and LGBT teens who are struggling to find their identities in small-town USA. Taking a job as a youth counselor at The Rainbow Kids Foundation is their dream come true… even if it means working for the very man who once bullied them. So what if they can’t forgive Clark Danvers for the past? They can peacefully coexist with Clark and that’s good enough for Gray. As for their personal life, well… who needs one? They have family, friends, and their crazy cat Spike. As for everything else? Well, there’s an app for that.

Add one flirty, pansexual biker who’s the opposite of an outlaw…

Canaan “Wolf” Matthews isn’t looking for love, let alone commitment. He’s busy running a club of bikers who do their part to rescue kids from bad situations, help abused spouses escape, and accompany social workers into the rough areas when it’s not a case for the cops but backup is a necessity. Meeting Gray while on his way home from a hookup—with the evidence clearly crusted on his shirt like a merit badge—isn’t quite the meet cute Wolf would’ve wanted when he found the one person who could make his little pan heart go pitter-pat. Like everything else in his life, Wolf decides to roll with it and see what happens.

To equal two people who might just be what the other needs.

Gray only wants to have fun with Wolf. No strings necessary. So why do they keep reaching out to the annoyingly cute biker when things get dicey for a teen who’s dealing with a situation that is far too relatable for Gray? Anxieties flare and forgiveness beckons as Gray starts to see their old nemesis, Clark, for the person he is today. Before Gray can plan a future, they need to make peace with their past. With Wolf’s support, can Gray finally learn how to forgive and find their way to a full and happy life?


Book Review

Everyone who has read the previous books of Susan Hawke’s series ‘Lovestrong’ is already familiar with the main as well as most secondary protagonists of this sixth installment. Grayson Davis appears in the first book ‘How Not To Blend’ as the nonbinary son of Dr. Corbin Davis, and a subplot shows them trying to come to terms with their gender identity as well as being bullied by a classmate, Clark Danvers (who is then the main character of book number five, ‘How to Heal’). Grayson (called Gray) has finished their psychology studies on the West Coast and decides to come back to their hometown. Fortunately they immediately find a job at the Rainbow Kids Foundation, created by the same Clark Danvers, their ex-“torturer”: a counselling place, safe haven, and shelter for youngsters who experience trouble at home because of their LGBTQ+ identities.


Soon Gray meets Canaan “Wolf” Matthews, one of the Matthews brothers (encountered throughout the series, and particularly in ‘How to Heal’, where police officer Rick Matthews is the second main character). Their first encounter isn’t what one would call conducive to seduction; nonetheless, both are intrigued at once by the other, and they hook up a few days later. Chemistry seems to draw them closer, but both are reluctant at first to admit they are falling in love. Moreover, Gray’s life keeps them busy; there’s their job, where they often stumble upon their former bully Clark, and they have to struggle with their PTSD; there’s also young, nonbinary Danny asking for their help and Danny’s homophobic father swearing revenge for Gray’s interference. Things start to move faster and faster, until an almost deathly showdown takes the decisions out of Gray’s hands…


As much as I overall liked this sixth book of the series, I must say that it wasn’t my favorite. For one, I’ve never been a huge fan of insta-love stories, and here I got a prime example. Gray and Wolf meet in a café, and Boom!, they’re all of a sudden smitten and obsessed with each other. All right, there was a teensy bit of tension as both didn’t won’t to acknowledge it at first, but that tension felt rather artificial. Nothing was ever open or in jeopardy; from the moment they bumped into each other, it was clear how their story would end. I know that most romance stories work that way, but I would have hoped for a bit more real-life obstacles, even more genuinely felt reluctance. I read about both thinking this and that and then acting differently. I do admit that their story, after the first awkward insta-thing was behind me, turned out to be a sweet one; and I do admit that most of my sympathy went to Wolf, who really seemed like someone who could make me swoon, too: empathetic, intelligent, funny, easygoing, intuitive, hot, and a gentleman. Gray felt a bit off, and I know this will sound cold-hearted, but his hurtful past with Clark got old after a while, too.


What didn’t work for me at all in this book were most of the dialogs. Talk about two people oversharing and overexplaining things! I simply cannot believe that real human beings talk to each other the way Gray and Wolf talked; it was partly too sugary, partly too much Psychology 101-babble, but hardly ever a conversation I could have overheard in real life. There were moments were I wanted to slap them and tell them to stop playacting and start behaving like two normal, young Americans. Luckily, that’s when the subplot around young Danny and his homophobic father kicked in; there I found real tension, at last, which kept me going. Of course, at the end, I was rewarded with a Happily Ever After for all and sundry (except maybe for Danny’s father) plus some hints as to what I could expect in installment number seven. I hope that one features real-life people again.


DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the author. This book has been provided by the author via GRRT for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 202 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 16-September-2020
Price $3.99 ebook
Buy Link