Monday, April 18, 2016

The One That Got Away by A.J. Pine

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How far will one man go for the woman he's loved since high school?

Jamie Kingston has been Brynn Chandler's best friend since middle school. Only once was their friendship tested—when Brynn gave Jamie a single kiss. Since then, they've had an unspoken agreement never to cross that line again, and she’s ready to let go of the past and move on.

But Jamie has loved Brynn for as long as he can remember, and now that he's ready to tell her, she has her sights set on someone else. Knowing this is his last chance, he asks Brynn to go on a two-week road trip. But their time alone brings old hurts to the surface, and Brynn has to decide if the one that got away lies at the end of the journey or if he's been by her side all along.

The One That Got Away – there’s something about that phrase that always hooks me. It screams of a missed opportunity and the potential that there may be another chance. And that’s what we have here.

Jamie and Brynn have been hung up on each other since high school. Their friendship goes farther back but it was in high school that Jamie developed feelings for Brynn. On a night when she was looking forward to being kissed by her crush, she ends up kissing Jamie instead. The circumstances leading up to this are interesting. Anyway, it all kind of dissolves shortly after with Brynn never truly knowing exactly what it happened.

Ten years later, they’re still best friends and getting ready for the big high school reunion. This time nothing is going to stop Brynn from sharing a kiss with her high school crush. Jamie stands by helplessly because far be it from him to actually speak up and declare his true feelings to her. When things go terribly awry at the reunion, he make it up to Brynn by suggesting that embark on a road trip together to LA where she can meet up with her crush and he can take care of his business venture. It doesn’t go every smoothly with plenty of hiccups along the way. But for Brynn, each of these inconveniences turn out to be an opportunity to see Jamie in a completely different light.

The narrative, told from both viewpoints, is repetitive but that’s because both of them are so caught up in reliving where things went south in their friendship. They’re simply stuck and as the reader you’re stuck with them as their thoughts and memories play on an endless loop. They keep quiet under the pretense of keeping the status quo. At some point during the roadtrip there’s a shift and I was so happy because seriously, about time you two!

A few things stood out for me. One, is the playful chemistry they have. It’s sickeningly obvious how much they adore each other and the fact that there’s always some sort of mishap when these two are together is very funny. It’s their thing and it’s cute. Two, is that Jamie and Brynn feel tangible. They’re both described as attractive with none of the over-the-top romancey stuff. That just made them relatable to me, like these two goofballs could very well be my friends hanging about in Chicago, bringing me to my third point: I did love the Chicago references. 

TOTGA is cute and almost like a slapstick comedy at times when you look at how clumsy they are around each other. If you’re someone who believes in second chances and adores the friends-to-lovers trope, this will certainly please you. TOTGA is a fun roadtrip or vacation companion to take with you!

~ Bel

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