Review: The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren

Reviewed by Joanna

This tale deals with the second chance romance of Liv and Finn—survivors of a high school massacre where two other kids took their deadly teenage angst out on their fellow pupils.

While the tragedy of that event frames this story, it isn’t the core focus, as the story picks up several years down the line when our protagonists reunite for a documentary being made on their experience.

Liv runs into Finn—her secret ex-boyfriend—at the filming, and the trauma of it all triggers her panic attacks and she flees. Later, in the bar with friends she’s drifted apart from, the women open a time capsule they buried after the shooting, and Liv reads the words teen-her wrote to herself. The full life she expected with passion and adventure is far from her overworked existence, and she realizes all she’s missing. Then she sees Finn again, and the two come together.

Problem is, Finn is an FBI agent, in rehabilitation following a two-year undercover mission. He’s got the summer to learn to be human again before he returns to his dangerous work and his next immersion. He has nothing to offer Liv, except the freedom and space his lakeside rental provides to her quest to live up to her time capsule dream.

So as he fixes up this old house, she starts up her photography hobby on her weekend visits. And you can guess where it goes from there.

This is a pacey and enjoyable story, with a passionate couple in the center of it. I liked the little segments of their teen love history, but most enjoyed it when current-day Liv and Finn were on the page together and finding their way to friendship while trying to resist more. There were demons to be worked out between them, as well as in their own lives via their shared tragedy.

Finn was meant to have a dark side from the dangerous work he’d been doing, but this never materialized into anything more than him not being able to be gentle in ‘certain’ situations. Not a bad habit to have. Even so, this wasn’t unduly alarming, and overall he was sexy, funny and appealing.

Internally, he cringed. Yes, Olivia, I’ve been celibate for over two years and am in a meaningful relationship with my own hand, so sorry I fell on you like a rabid dog.

Liv was a typical girl-next-door, with a gentle, understanding personality as she got walked over in her web designer job. She was meant to be a little more wild-child with a tattoo on her neck, but mostly she was placid and friendly. Her group of friends supported her through her planned change in her life, though frankly I had limited interest in them and their joint scenes slowed the pace. One of them was Finn’s acknowledged girlfriend when they were teenagers (his father didn’t want him dating hard-up Liv) and though this had the potential for a greater degree of drama, it fizzled out.

With the school shooting such a sensitive subject, this doesn’t tackle any of the big issues, but deals with people getting on with their lives. At no point did I feel strong emotions over this awful event, so if you’re worried about this, it’s pretty gentle as a plot device. You do see the scenes but in a gore-free way. Mostly the angst is reduced to self-effacing humor.

The writing is good (I don’t think I noticed even one typo and this is in a pre-publication edition – bravo) and there’s series potential with the other characters in Liv’s friendship group.

Rating: B

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Ones Who Got Away
by Roni Loren
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

 

 

 

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