Title: The One That Got Away
Author: Bethany Chase
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: March 31st, 2015
Length: 352 pages | 11 hours 34 minutes
Source: Gifted by Vickie, the force behind Making Our Sustainable Life
Sarina Mahler thinks she has her life all nailed down: a growing architecture practice in Austin, Texas, and an any-day-now proposal from her loving boyfriend, Noah. She’s well on her way to having the family she’s hoped for since her mother’s death ten years ago. But with Noah on a temporary assignment abroad and retired Olympic swimmer — and former flame — Eamon Roy back in town asking her to renovate his new fixer-upper, Sarina’s life takes an unexpected turn.
Eamon proves to be Sarina’s dream client, someone who instinctively trusts every one of her choices — and Sarina is reminded of all the reasons she was first drawn to him back in the day. Suddenly her carefully planned future with Noah seems a little less than perfect. And when tragedy strikes, Sarina is left reeling. With her world completely upended, she is forced to question what she truly wants in life — and in love.
I don’t define myself as a fan of the romance genre, so when I say this book was surprisingly good, you can understand the weight that carries. Sarina is a fun, but not unrealistically so, character- a woman with a bright career and solid talent, who works hard and makes her own way. A woman who appreciates how kind and caring her boyfriend is. A woman who is close to her stepfather and, despite partying like she’s 21 pretty frequently, physically fit and healthy. She was fun to follow along with, and not over-the-top.
I don’t want to give away spoilers, so I’ll try to be as vague as possible with this next bit. Chase did a great job handling real-life emotions. Not just the zingy excited ones, but the harsh, painful, exposing ones. The adults in her novel are adults, and no punches are pulled for the sake of a meet-cute or sexy scene. Speaking of sexy, there is plenty of it but it never went too far (I squick out easily and unrealistically passionate and fulfilling sex scenes will make me DNF *and* throw a book). No turgid metaphors here!
I found this to be a bit of a pick-me-up, even though Sarina goes through a bunch of ups and downs throughout the story. It’s one of the few romance novels (and contemporary romance, at that!) that I truly enjoyed. So naturally, I recommend it for fans of romance, chick lit, hot Olympic swimmers, and female architects.