Monday, April 20, 2020

Review: The Ones Who Got Away books 1-4 by Roni Loren

The Ones Who Got Away
The Ones Who Got Away #1
ARC Edition, 354 pages
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Liv's words cut off as Finn got closer. The man approaching was nothing like the boy she'd known. The bulky football muscles had streamlined into a harder, leaner package and the look in his deep green eyes held no trace of boyish innocence.

It's been twelve years since tragedy struck the senior class of Long Acre High School. Only a few students survived that fateful night—a group the media dubbed The Ones Who Got Away.

Liv Arias thought she'd never return to Long Acre—until a documentary brings her and the other survivors back home. Suddenly her old flame, Finn Dorsey, is closer than ever, and their attraction is still white-hot. When a searing kiss reignites their passion, Liv realizes this rough-around-the-edges cop might be exactly what she needs...

My Review:
If you’ve been on my blog a while you know about my Roni Loren obsession. It all started with one book I grabbed on a whim from Netgalley and I’ve been hooked ever since. I’ve never been disappointed with a story and that hasn’t changed at all with her latest book; The Ones Who Got Away.

Twelve years ago Long Acre High School fell victim to a school shooting during prom. Friends, family, love, and hope were lost that day. The surviving students were labeled as The Ones Who Got Away, the ones who survived. Now, the present-day they want to do a documentary on the survivors and the tragedy that befell them.

Liv Arias was one of the survivors. She faced down death and lived. How? Finn Dorsey, her secret boyfriend or boy she made out with. Finn was popular and going places. Liv was a Hispanic girl whose family helped service Finn’s family's yard. Finn and Liv fell for each other fast, but he never made the relationship public. After high school, Liv never saw or heard from Finn again. Twelve years later, Liv and Finn and thrown back together for the documentary and old sparks ignite.

I flipping loved this story. With all the school shootings that have been going on, I was a tad hesitant about this book. I shouldn’t have worried and I feel this book came at the exact right time.

Liv has always been a little wild. She was the rebel in school who followed the beat of her own drum. After the shooting, she went to college and struggled a lot. She rushed in head first with partying and drinking and boys. Now that she’s older she has a safe boring job. No time in her life for friends or photography. When she leaves for the weekend to help with the documentary she runs into her old friends and they open their time capsules only to realize they haven’t been living the lives they want. With that Liv wants to do everything she can to be the person her younger self would have been proud of, and that leads her straight to Finn.

I adored Finn. He struggles with a lot of demons and guilt over his relationship with Liv, his family, and what happened that fateful prom night. Over the past twelve years, he’s done everything in his power to stop the people who sell guns to kids that assist in high school shootings. After being undercover he’s forced to take some time off and assimilate into society. That’s what leads him to Liv.

Honestly, such a captivating and emotional story. There is romance so don’t you worry. Roni Loren does an amazing job of making the book about the building of a relationship as much as the sexy times, which as super hot. Everything about this story was fresh and amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better story.

The One You Can't Forget
The Ones Who Got Away #2
ARC Edition, 416 pages
Release Date: June 5th, 2018
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca

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 felt...light.

She'd forgotten what that felt like.

My Review:
Roni Loren is an absolute favorite author of mine. Whenever I see she's writing or about to release a new book I may or may not run around the house dancing in excitement. I love her writing. Her characters are always amazingly well written, relatable, and enjoyable to read about. Despite her books in a series being in the same world I never want to drop the character I'm reading to go back to previous characters.

The series The Ones Who Got Away is definitely a series I was on board to read about considering I work in schools and with the rising number of school shootings happening around the U.S. it honestly feels like only a matter of time before I'm caught in one. It's a sad reality a lot of people are facing and I feel like Roni Loren handled this series with grace.

We got to read about Rebecca in The Ones Who Got Away book one where she met up with her friends who we will read about in other books. Rebecca feels like an imposter, especially after reading about her past self's goals. While she is a successful divorce attorney she isn't doing anything else she's set out to do. Despite being a survivor of the Long Acre school shooting she feels like she's barely hanging onto who she is or who she wants to be. One night she gets saved from a mugging and comes face-to-face with Wes Garrett.

Wes has had it rough since his ex-wife misrepresented him in the divorce and stole his restaurant from him. The person who helped him lose everything? Yeah whoops, that was Rebecca. His dream of opening a restaurant is gone and now all he wants to do is hide his head in the sand and maybe open a food truck.

I loved Rebecca and Wes, both together and separate. While you know going into it that they, of course, have to end up together, the journey didn't feel rushed. There's a slow build-up to feelings and more than just distrust over past biases. Rebecca has a lot of struggles with what's expected of her versus who she is with her parents and I couldn't have found that more relatable. I loved Rebecca start to finish and couldn't have been happier that she got a happy ending with more than just a very lovable boyfriend. Wes was amazing too. I hurt for him to realize he'd lost so much but he just needed a nudge to get his butt into gear and I liked that he wasn't too proud to ask for help. 

Very well done story that will have you craving the rest of the series. The story is swoon-worthy with amazing writing and fantastic characters. An absolute must-read!

The One You Fight For
The Ones Who Got Away #3
ARC Edition, 382 pages
Release Date: January 1st, 2019
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca

How hard would you fight for the one you love?

Taryn Landry was there that awful night fourteen years ago when Long Acre changed from the name of a town to the title of a national tragedy. Everyone knows she lost her younger sister. No one knows it was her fault. Since then, psychology professor Taryn has dedicated her life's work to preventing something like that from ever happening again. Falling in love was never part of the plan...

Shaw Miller has spent more than a decade dealing with the fallout of his brother's horrific actions. After losing everything―his chance at Olympic gold, his family, almost his sanity―he's changed his name, his look, and he's finally starting a new life. As long as he keeps a low profile and his identity secret, everything will be okay, right?

When the world and everyone you know defines you by one catastrophic tragedy...

How do you find your happy ending?

My Review:
Okay, let me just say wow wow wow. First off, let me gush about this amazing cover! While I adore the other covers, and I do, I ALWAYS swoon over a cover when they have a character who is brown and with crazy hair like mine. I was so much more excited about this story when I saw the cover.

Taryn is another survivor of the Long Acre shooting. That day she lost her sister and her family hasn't been the same since. Since graduating high school, she's dedicated her life to preventing another school shooting. One night she gets nervous and she goes into a karaoke bar and meets Shaw. Shaw isn't planning on sticking in town very long and is just there to help his friend open a specialty gym. He's changed his name and doesn't want anyone digging into his past.

The One You Fight For just broke my heart. Shaw's brother was one of the Long Acre shooters and has lived with the shame and guilt from that shooting ever since. When he bumps into Taryn he doesn't know who she is right away, but when he does he doesn't want to interrupt her life.

Shaw's and Taryn's characters both broke my heart for different reasons. Early on Taryn's life work gets rejected and she spends a lot of this book doing some much-needed self-care. Life keeps throwing her together with Shaw and after he tells her who he is, it becomes a struggle while she's falling for him while trying to hide who he is.

Shaw is just feeling a lot of guilt and a lot of feelings that he doesn't have a lot of love for himself or his family. He's suffered a lot of trauma and this story really takes a good look at how media and people can twist things around the families of the shooters. It's not something we often get to see, but I feel like this was done amazingly well.

I loved this story. It ripped my heart out and had me feeling all the feels. Taryn is another one dealing with family pressures and expectations along with her own guilt, but at the same time, it's very different than what Rebecca was dealing with. I always love that with Roni Loren's stories. She grasps that issues and situations can be similar on paper but are also very nuanced.

Another absolute must-read. I was super sad to have their story end, but I am so excited with how it ended.

The One For You
The Ones Who Got Away #4
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Release Date: December 31st, 2019
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca

The highly-anticipated fourth book in Roni Loren's unforgettable The Ones Who Got Away series.

She got a second chance at life.
Will she take a second chance at love?

Kincaid Breslin wasn't supposed to survive that fateful night at Long Acre when so many died, including her boyfriend—but survive she did. She doesn't know why she got that chance, but now she takes life by the horns and doesn't let anybody stand in her way

Ashton Isaacs was her best friend when disaster struck all those years ago, but he chose to run as far away as he could. Now fate has brought him back to town, and Ash doesn't know how to cope with his feelings for Kincaid and his grief over their lost friendship. For Ash has been carrying secrets, and he knows that once Kincaid learns the truth, he'll lose any chance he might have had with the only woman he's ever loved.

My Review:
I have to say, despite my love for this series, I was dreading reading Kincaid's story as I knew it was the end of the road for this beautiful series. It's always bittersweet to end an amazing series and say goodbye to characters that I fell in love with from book one and who feel like good friends. This series has been amazing from start to finish. For a premise that is very sensitive, Roni Loren wrote this story with beauty and grace.

While all these stories can be read as standalone stories. I would highly recommend reading them from book one. If you're just coming in on this one, this series surrounds four friends who weren't friends in high school, but after a dance that ended in the death of their classmates, it formed an unbreakable bond.

Now, we've reached Kincaid's story. I have to say I had a feeling her story was going to make my chest ache something fierce since after reading this series I could tell she was carrying around a lot of guilt. Despite her fun, friendly, and loving nature, there have been hints behind her happy go lucky mask. The night of the shooting she lost her boyfriend and then later her best friend. She can't remember anything from that night and doesn't know how to cope with the loss of everything. When she comes face-to-face with her ex-best-friend she's overrun with a lot of emotions.

Ashton has been in love with Kincaid for a long time. I have to say this story held a lot of mystery on Ashton's end since he wouldn't tell Kincaid what happened that night or how he was involved. When the truth comes out it was beyond heartbreaking. I felt for him and I am such a sucker for friends-to-lovers stories. Roni Loren always does an amazing job with any trope and this one was no different.

The romance and love and friendship and just overall story didn't feel rushed or fake or anything like it. It felt real and heartfelt and you could see the progression of the feelings as they gradually grew.

That epilogue was beautiful. I cried, like a lot and just loved everything about this story. I was happy our beautiful ladies got a happy ending with guys that loved them. I couldn't have been happier with how this story ended.

This whole series is an absolute must-read. I have a great love for Roni Loren's stories so I may be biased, but this is a great series to start her books if you haven't already.

Other Reviews for this Author:

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. She holds a master’s degree in social work and spent years as a mental health counselor, but now she writes full time from her cozy office in Dallas, Texas where she puts her characters on the therapy couch instead. She is a two-time RITA Award winner and a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

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