by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #2
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Fight For
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Most days Rebecca Lindt feels like an imposter...
The world admires her as a survivor. But that impression would crumble if people knew her secret. She didn't deserve to be the one who got away. But nothing can change the past, so she's thrown herself into her work. She can't dwell if she never slows down.
Wes Garrett is trying to get back on his feet after losing his dream restaurant, his money, and half his damn mind in a vicious divorce. But when he intervenes in a mugging and saves Rebecca―the attorney who helped his ex ruin him―his simple life gets complicated.
Their attraction is inconvenient and neither wants more than a fling. But when Rebecca's secret is put at risk, both discover they could lose everything, including what they never realized they needed: each other
She laughed and kissed him. This morning she'd melted down. But somehow this man had her laughing and turned on only a few hours later. Everything inside her felt buoyed.
She'd forgotten what that felt like.
There are a few authors who have the amazing ability to rip my heart out and make me love them for it, and Roni Loren is one of them. This is the second book in her The Ones Who Got Away series. I think this could easily be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend reading the first book anyway!
“That’s actually one of the things I like best about you. You’re all about the action, lawyer girl.” He waggled his eyebrows, trying to lighten the mood. “It’s come in handy so far. Random kissing the first night I met you. Basically seducing me yesterday after we decided to take things slow. Your lack of patience is paying off in great dividends for me.”
Rebecca and Wes meet when she’s mugged at gunpoint by two teens on the way home from work. Rebecca’s attackers are scared away by a stray dog, and Wes comes along in the aftermath and takes the dog – who’s been shot – to his brother, a vet. Rebecca is a survivor of a school shooting, a divorce lawyer in her father’s firm, and on track to make partner when her dad retires to go into politics. Partly because of the shooting, part of his campaign platform is tougher sentencing for juvie offenders – his reasoning being that if the justice system had been harder on the school shooters, they would never have gotten the chance to shoot up prom. Her dad loves her in his own way – and is proud of what she overcame – but he’s also willing to use her. He doesn’t seem to care that she doesn’t want to give talks about her experience as a survivor, that she’d rather talk about her work as a lawyer or pretty much anything else. Wes is, in his own words, “a recovering alcoholic who let his dream slip through his fingers.” He’s a recovering alcoholic and lost his restaurant before it even opened in a divorce mess. The best part? His ex-wife’s lawyer was Rebecca. His current job is teaching cooking at an after school program for troubled teens, and though he dreams of opening his own restaurant, he worries that being back in that environment could cause him to backslide. They don’t seem to have anything in common, but something draws them to the other person. Can a relationship between two such different people work?
“He didn’t blame her for not wanting to talk about it. They’d only agreed to have a good time together, to be casual friends. He wasn’t her boyfriend or confidant. He was a distraction, as she’d said.
So if she wanted a distraction, he would happily distract the hell out of her.”
What I love most about Ms. Loren’s book is how well she deals with trauma. In this book, to the outside world, Rebecca has it all – great job, “supportive” father, she’s a successful survivor. But inside, she’s being swallowed up by a secret she’s kept since the shooting, and after the mugging, it starts to pop out in flashbacks. She masterfully weaves together all the different plotlines – the school shooting, Wes’s childhood, his alcoholism, the kids he’s teaching, the mugging – to arrive at the final big reveal. Neither character has been in a relationship for a while – if at all! While they both feel a draw to the other, Rebecca wants to keep this “thing” with Wes superficial, and she especially doesn’t want to talk about her flashbacks. She views Wes as a distraction from her real life, from running her dad’s charity work, speaking at his fundraisers, and taking care of her own clients. Wes’s family, on the other hand, worries that Wes is getting too focused on Rebecca, that he’s repeating the same obsessive behaviors from before. In some ways, Rebecca worries that she’ll never be worthy of love, and once Wes realizes that, they’re finally both able to confront their demons and move on. I loved how much Rebecca and Wes believed in each other and how incredibly supportive they were.
“You see, Bec, you’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t pretend to be someone else around me. You gave me the best gift. You let yourself be who you really are with me. Underneath all this hurt and trauma, all the pressure and expectations, this is you. I got to meet that girl, and I’m so damn lucky for it.”
Overall, I absolutely adored this book and couldn’t put it down, even when it was ripping my heart out. I can’t wait for the next in the series!