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The One That Got Away by Charlotte Rixon


Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: August 15th, 2023

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Adult, Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, Adult Fiction, Womens Fiction

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two years together.
Twenty years apart.
One day to change their story.

2000. Benjamin’s world is turned upside down the night he meets Clara. Instinctively, he knows that they are meant for each other, but a devastating mistake on their last night at university will take their lives in very different directions.

20 years later, Clara has a high-profile job and a handsome husband. But despite the trappings of success, she isn’t happy, and she knows that a piece of her heart still belongs to Benjamin, the boy she fell in love with years earlier. The boy whose life she fears she ruined.

When a bombing is reported in the city where they first met, Clara is pulled back to a place she tries not to remember and the first love she could never forget. Searching for Benjamin, Clara is forced to confront the events that tore them apart. But is it too late to put right what went wrong?

Across the miles and spanning decades, Charlotte Rixon’s The One That Got Away is a sweeping, poignant story about growing up, growing apart, the people who first steal our hearts, and the surprising, winding roads that love can take us on, for readers of Jill Santopolo, Rosie Walsh, and Colleen Hoover.

First Line:

It’s a hotter day than anyone anticipated for April and he’s sweating, but not just because of the heat.

The One That Got Away by Charlotte Rixon

When Benjamin met Clara at university, he knew she was the one. But, two years into their relationship, they are forced apart by a horrible and devastating mistake. That mistake takes Clara and Benjamin in different directions. Fast forward twenty years later, Clara, a successful journalist in an unhappy marriage, is shocked to hear about a bombing in the city where she and Benjamin first met. Rushing to the city, Clara doesn’t know if he is dead, alive, or injured. Will Clara find Benjamin? What happened that night twenty years ago? And who is the bomber, and why did that person target the football (soccer for Americans) stadium?

When I read the blurb for The One That Got Away, I was mildly intrigued. I like books that span decades, and I also like when those books are recent with characters around my age. That is why I decided to accept the St. Martin’s Press widget. But now that I have read it, I am very unimpressed.

The One That Got Away is a medium-paced book that is set in the city of Newcastle in, England. The storyline for this book moved slowly. That slowness kept making me lose interest, and I had to force myself to keep reading.

The storyline of The One That Got Away is centered around Clara and Benjamin. This storyline was chaotic. It was a dual POV storyline (Clara and Benjamin). That is not what bothered me. The author did clearly label the chapters. What bothered me was that it ping-ponged back and forth in time. One chapter would be in the early 2000s, the next in 2023, then the 2010s, and so on. I couldn’t get a handle on anything happening.

I couldn’t stand Clara. When she was first introduced, I thought she was a little immature but chalked it up to her age. But, as the author continued with the book, I disliked her. She came across, even in her 40s, as immature and selfish. She constantly lied to herself, her friends, husband, and Benjamin. She ruined the book for me.

On the flip side, I liked Benjamin. He got the short end of the stick when it came to Clara. I also felt he was made so oblivious by love that he was willing to overlook her behavior. When the mistake happened, and Clara cut ties with him, I pitied him. But, in a way, his life turned out so much better than Clara’s. My only fault with him is that he didn’t push Aiden after the party, and something was clearly wrong.

This book’s storylines with Benjamin and Clara are so chaotic that I will not start explaining or unraveling it. I found some more well-written than others. I also wish the mistake had been revealed sooner in the book instead of being talked about and around.

The bombing storyline was maybe the only straightforward one in the book, and it shocked me. I was wrong about who I thought it was. I also was heartbroken over why that person chose to do what they did. Looking back, it made sense. I just wished that Aiden had told someone sooner.

The end of The One That Got Away was a HEA. Clara was finally living her best life after cutting some dead weight out. I disagreed with the romantic angle, but hey, good for them. I also loved seeing how Aiden turned out!!

I would recommend The One That Got Away to anyone over 21. There is language, nongraphic sexual situations, and violence. There are references to childhood sexual abuse, alcoholism, child abandonment, cheating, and attempted rape.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Charlotte Rixon for allowing me to read and review The One That Got Away. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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