Roni Loren brings her emotional The Ones Who Got Away series to a close with The One for You, a rollercoaster friends-to-lovers romance between two childhood best friends whose lives were forever changed by a traumatic event.
Kincaid Breslin and Ashton Isaacs were best friends until their prom night turned to tragedy when Graham, Kincaid’s boyfriend and Ashton’s friend, was killed in a school shooting. Consumed by their shared grief, Kincaid and Ash shared a single night together, a mistake that fractured their relationship for years. Over a decade later, they are unexpectedly reunited in their hometown, haunted by memories of that night.
In the years since, Ash moved away and became a successful author. Kincaid stayed in her hometown, putting on a brave face as she pursued a career in real estate. When Graham’s parents begin planning to sell their much-loved bookstore, both Kincaid and Ash find themselves fighting for the same cause with a metric ton of baggage waiting to be addressed.
Ash and Kincaid’s road to romance is fraught with tension, unaddressed feelings and PTSD. The story switches between past and present, showing readers how the attack created a fragmented before and after for the survivors. Loren ably handles every emotional, heartbreaking layer of The One for You. Ash and Kincaid have built walls upon walls around themselves to avoid addressing their trauma and the guilt they feel for sleeping together while in mourning. Kincaid is a woman who denies her own fragility in the most heartbreaking ways, a master of plastering on a smile, denying herself chances to grieve. Meanwhile, Ash adopts the persona of an affable nerd, and his world travels make it easier for him to forget the terrible events of his past. Reunited by the memory of Graham and wanting to help out his parents, they quickly hand-wave away their years of silence. But as the time they spend together becomes more frequent, simply ignoring what happened between them, as well as the death of Graham, becomes unavoidable.
There is truly something special about Loren’s writing and the way she handles the all-too-real realities of gun violence. Devoted fans of the series will find this finale bittersweet; it packs an emotional punch with a hard-won happy ending, but the realization that there are no more books for us to enjoy is a hard pill to swallow. Though Loren most likely has something fantastic on the horizon, The One for You and its predecessors aren’t romances readers will soon forget. Loren has easily created one of the most memorable contemporary romance series of the last decade.