“The Ones Who Got Away” by Roni Loren ★★★★★ [Expected Release Date: 1-2-18]

 

I received a three-chapter sample of this book from NetGalley to read and review. Let me just quickly say: Put this on your TBR list now! Expected release date is January 2, 2018.

Author Roni Loren has effectively produced a warm romance surrounding a tragic high school event. I wouldn’t have thought that premise could have been done in a tasteful way, but she’s done it. And let me just go ahead and lower the classiness level a bit by saying, “Hubba, hubba!”

“We’re supposed to move on, but not too much.”

Olivia Arias returns to Long Acre High School twelve years after a prom night shooting turned her small Texas town upside down.  She still suffers from nightmares and panic attacks, but she and a few others have agreed to be interviewed for a documentary which will serve as a fundraiser to help the victims’ families.  She knows going in that reliving the events of that night are going to be difficult.  She’s surprised to learn that her former secret flame, Finn Dorsey, has also agreed to be interviewed.  She hasn’t seen him in over a decade after his family moved away.

“They stole not just my friends’ lives but the could be’s from us.”

They both are carrying secrets from the night of the shooting. Both are fighting with guilt and unresolved feelings about the incident and about each other. Although as adults Liv and Finn feel an instant and undeniable attraction toward each other, they are required to rein it in (for now), and for the reader it feels like a slow-burn romance because we are taken back to relive their more innocent teenage years, with secret stolen moments and make-out sessions that only involved kissing. I was impressed by the author’s ability to create a believable romance between these two, even in the span of the three chapters included in the sampler.

This story also gives insight into what it must be like for survivors of a tragic event like this, especially to people so young. Not only are they dealing with the trauma of the event itself, but they are now thrust into the media spotlight, tagged with a persona given to them from one fragment of time out of their lives. The Hero. The One in the Closet. The Wounded Valedictorian.

“Before that, we were totally different things, but we got stuck with how they branded us. …Everything we were before that night got erased. Gone. Just like that.”

I’ll be on the lookout for other titles by this author. She has a real talent for manipulating the mood of the story causing the reader to be drawn in immediately and feel a part of it.

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