Review: The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
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.

Full of both humor and heartbreak, The One That Got Away is the story of one woman’s discovery that, sometimes, life is what happens when you leave the blueprints behind.

Some spoilers.

I really, really enjoyed The One That Got Away, author Bethany Chase's debut novel. It has all the ingredients I love in what I consider really good women's fiction and a very satisfying read. 

I'm not going to summarize what the book is about because the synopsis did a really good job of that. I'll just jump into my thoughts.

Sarina. I liked Sarina--she was likable, smart, confident and witty. She has great friends, a loving boyfriend (albeit he's currently abroad), her architecture practice is taking off--she basically had a pretty good life. She's far from perfect, though, and there were instances when I thought she acted more like someone in her mid-20s than her 31 years. But now that I think about it... we're close in age (I'm 28) and both at that point in our lives where we feel like we know what we want with our careers, we're on the right path, and it's starting to take off, but we don't have the responsibilities of marriage and kids. So, she can still go out during the weekends, party with her friends and have a drink (or three) guilt-free. 

I do love her easy relationship with her stepfather John. Their mutual love for her mom, their shared love for architecture, how they both celebrated her successes and despite them living far away from each other, they still have that connection. I just loved that! 

Noah and Eamon. They're both good men. I was unsure about Eamon at first though. We're in Sarina's first person POV the whole time and he's one of those flirty, charming types so I wasn't sure what his intentions were until it became glaringly obvious. Then, I felt sorry for him because he really, really liked Sarina but she was with Noah. 

As for Noah, he wasn't my type of guy so I never warmed up to him. We differ in opinions about women's role when it comes to children versus careers so he irritated me at times. But he was a good guy. I felt really bad for him too.

Emotional infidelity. I liked Sarina overall, but all the emotional infidelity going on with her rubbed me the wrong way. She was attracted to Eamon (and vice versa) but because she was with Noah they developed this great friendship, which I loved that. They would hang out, have a great time and there was always this sexual tension between them. Then, there were times when Sarina was upset with Noah and they kind of cross the friend line a little bit and her rationalizations were flimsy at best. I found myself screaming at one, Break up with Noah already! You keep saying you love him but you don't love him that way! Gah! I hate cheating of any kind and as I reader I was very torn. I wanted to root for Sarina and Eamon because they're so good together, but then there's still poor Noah who was also good guy in his own way. 

Other things I loved. I really enjoyed all the other secondary characters, especially Sarina's group of friends. Theirs was was the kind of friendship that makes me want to use the #friendshipgoals. As someone who loves to watch HGTV, I found the whole building design/renovation fascinating. I really want to see Eamon's house when it's all finished. Hmmm... I wonder if the author has a Pinterest and had some visuals in mind for his house? The One That Got Away is set in Austin and it sounds like a fun city and I like the contrast the author made of Austin and Sarina's hometown of Floyd County, Virginia. I looked up pictures of both places and I fell in love with Floyd's small-town charm--I'm a country girl at heart. 

Writing and plotThe One That Got Away is author Bethany Chase's debut novel and I am very impressed. The concept of The One That Got Away wasn't original, but it read fresh. Ms. Chase is an excellent writer--I found her writing to be very coherent, straight-forward and engaging and I was sucked in from chapter one and I kept turning the pages late into the night. I mentioned my dislike of infidelity but I still really, really enjoyed it a lot despite having some elements that I normally avoid. This novel will definitely not be my last novel by Ms. Chase. Actually, after reading the excerpt that was included in the paperback edition, I'm very much looking forward to her next novel, which will feature Eamon's brother Colin and Sarina's veterinarian friend Hilary.

OverallThe One That Got Away is reminiscent of Emily Giffin's earlier works (Something Borrowed and Something Blue--I'm not a fan of her newer books) and Catherine McKenzie's (her novel Arranged is one of my all-time favorite women's fiction title) novels. If you're a fan of rom-com type of women's fiction, then I highly recommend this one, and with summer coming up, add it to your list of pool-side reads.

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