Author: Roni Loren

Review: The One for You by Roni Loren

Posted January 9, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The One for You by Roni LorenReviewer: Rowena
The One for You by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #4
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away , The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget, The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
five-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

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.

The One for You is the final book in The Ones Who Got Away series by Roni Loren. I’m so sad that this series is done and over with because it’s been such a great and emotional journey for me. When we first met these characters in The Ones Who Got Away, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with these characters and their stories so much. I thought Roni Loren did such a fabulous job of telling these stories and giving these characters a voice that resonated with me in each and every single book. I just really liked this series and I can’t wait to see what Loren has planned next. I’m all aboard the Roni Loren fangirl train. 🙂

So this book features our last standing friend, Kincaid Breslin. Kincaid was the bubbly blonde that brought the four friends together again and pretty much held everyone to the words they’d given over a decade ago after the school shooting and their support group sessions came to an end. Each woman had written a letter, that they then buried and promised to revisit 10 years later. Well over time, the four friends each went their separate ways and forgot…Kincaid reminded them and helped each of them move forward with their lives. In this book, we see those three friends return the favor with Kincaid.

Over the course of the series, we see just how important the friendship between the women is to their stories as their romances are. These women have come a long way since that first book and I loved seeing their friendship solidify with each passing book. They became a family and that along with Kincaid and Ash’s story had me in tears for most of this book. I’m talking like ugly cry in the middle of the night because I couldn’t put this book down. I was all in my feels throughout this entire story. From the flashbacks to the here and now, I cried a lot. I’m a sucker for the unrequited love trope and Loren did a great job of showcasing the hurt feelings, the inability to move on, the frustration and just, everything. Every single chapter moved the story along and I loved how seeing the past collide with the present and then build and build and build until everything made sense. When things are finally all out in the open and there are no more secrets, no more confusion, when it’s all out on the table and both characters have to live with the choices they make? Swoon. I had all of the feels.

I loved Ash, I thought he was a great hero. I thought Loren did a great job of showing the reader how his childhood shaped who he was as a man. Though I spent quite a bit of the book, frustrated with Ash for not going after the girl, by the end, every choice he made, every time he bit his tongue, made sense. So when he swallows his pride and does the one thing he never thought he’d do…for Kincaid? OMG, the tears continued. There was no doubt in my mind that Ash belonged with Kincaid. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ash was devoted to KC back when they were kids and then again as adults.

Kincaid turned out to be my favorite of the four friends. I thought my favorite book was going to be Rebecca and Wes’ book because I absolutely loved theirs but nope. This book ended the series on such a high note that Roni Loren shot right to the top of my auto-buy list. This book is my first 5-star read of the year and Kincaid was a huge reason for that. I’m so glad that we finally got her childhood story. Her’s was not an easy story to tell but man, Kincaid came so far from that lost young girl with the neglectful mother and no real home to call her own. When she finally, finally gets the happy ending she’s always wanted, my heart was so full for both her and Ash that I stayed up for an extra 30 minutes just rereading my favorite parts of the book. I re-read the letters. Ash’s declaration. The epilogue. There’s a lot of good stuff in here and if you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend it. These characters really come into their own, moving forward after such a huge tragedy and it was all just so good. I’m going to miss these characters so much. Love this!

Final Grade

Grade: 5 out of 5

The Ones That Got Away

five-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni Loren

Posted December 15, 2019 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I can’t believe that we’re already on Book 4. When I first heard about this series before the first book came out, I was mighty intrigued and I thought it was such an interesting concept though I didn’t know how Roni Loren would pull it off. Telling the stories of victims of a school shooting? That was different but I’ve got to say that Roni Loren has written fantastic stories for the survivors and I have eaten each and every single book that she’s written in this series up.

In The One for You, we are finally getting Kincaid’s story. I’m pretty anxious for this book to be released into the wild because Kincaid has completely won me over throughout this series. In the first book, I didn’t really care for her at first but now? Love the woman. I can’t wait to read her story and it’s a best friend trope along with the one that got away trope? Oh yes, sign me up!

My love for this series is real and that is why we’re featuring The One for You on our Sunday Spotlight for this week. Check out the excerpt below and see Kincaid meet up with her long lost best friend that she hasn’t seen in years. Enjoy!

Sunday Spotlight: The One for You by Roni LorenThe One for You by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #4
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away , The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget, The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3), The One for You
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

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.

Excerpt

Ash’s head was pounding from lack of sleep and absence of coffee as he stepped out of the tiny shower in the apartment above the bookstore. The hot water had helped wake him up some, but the headache was going to take something more drastic. Like a double shot of espresso from the coffee shop on the corner. Maybe a triple. It wouldn’t taste like his usual from his favorite shop in Brooklyn, but he couldn’t be choosy.

Not that many years ago, Long Acre didn’t have a coffee shop at all. If you wanted coffee, you had to go to Toby’s Diner and drink the weak, brown water they passed off as coffee. As a teen, he’d thought it was quality stuff. He and Kincaid used to stop there all the time after their evening shifts at the bookstore to meet Graham, order a pot of coffee, eat cheese toast—the cheapest thing on the menu—and get their homework done. Well, mostly it’d been Ash attempting to do his homework while Kincaid narrated everything about her day or the customers she’d helped in the store. He’d never met anyone who seemed to say every thought in her head even while doing a completely unrelated task. Some people worked to background music. He’d taken to working to the hum of her chatter. After a while, it’d become something he missed when he tried to work in silence.

He grimaced and dried his face on his towel, trying to wipe away the memory. No thinking about the past. Being back in Long Acre was bad enough. He didn’t need to do the memory-lane thing. That road was populated with a whole bunch of sites he didn’t want to visit ever again. That was one reason the little gourmet coffee shop was perfect. It was new, probably some transplant business owner from Austin looking for small-town life, and when Ash had stopped in the last two mornings, he hadn’t recognized a soul and no one had recognized him.

Ash finished drying off and knotted the towel around his waist. He felt around the edge of the sink. Dammit. Where had he left his glasses? He squinted through the steam trapped in the small room and didn’t see them. He sighed, wishing, not for the first time, that he was back in his New York apartment where he had defined places for everything.

He vaguely remembered pulling off his glasses when he’d gotten undressed by the bed, so he headed out of the bathroom, vision blurry but manageable. The apartment was just a studio with a small kitchen in the corner, a bed, and a table where he could eat and work at his laptop, but the layout was unfamiliar. Plus, the place was filled with boxes and dark, the curtains still drawn. He walked carefully, hoping not to stub a toe or knock something over. He finally located his glasses on the small bedside table and slipped them on. He reached for the lamp, but when he heard a sound off to his left, he only had time to register that someone was standing near the door before a woman’s shriek tore through the small room.

He lifted his palms as if it were a holdup and jumped back in surprise. But before he could get a word out, something heavy and solid crashed into his shoulder.

Oof. Pain rocketed down his arm and up his neck. The sound of breaking glass exploded at his feet. “What the fu—”

“I have pepper spray and know self-defense!” the woman shouted. “Don’t you move!”

“Me?” he asked incredulously. “You don’t move. This is my apartment. And if you have pepper spray, why the hell didn’t you use that instead?” He rubbed his throbbing shoulder and took a step toward the lamp to illuminate his unwelcome visitor, but sharp pain pinched the bottom of his foot. “Fuck.”

“Your apartment?” she said, affronted. “I don’t think so, squatter. This place is on the market.”

Ash’s foot was on fire with pain. The glass had nicked him, and he was losing his patience and possibly blood. “Look, calm down. I think there’s been a mix-up, but give me a sec. Let me turn on a light.” He kept his feet where they were and reached for the lamp again. He clicked it on, soft light flooding the room. He was ready to yell at whoever this stranger was for attacking him, but when he saw the blond woman standing there, pepper spray aimed, familiar just-try-me expression on her face, all his breath left him. “Kincaid?”

Kincaid’s face, which he hadn’t seen since their last awkward shared Christmas at the Lowells—an annual tradition that always involved a lot of tense, fake smiling at each other—was the picture of shock. Eyes widening. Lips parting. Her gaze slid down his body, which he now remembered was bare except for his tattoos and the damp towel around his hips. He cleared his throat.
Her attention snapped back up to his face. “Ash? What the hell?”

He grabbed the knotted towel at his hip, not trusting the thing to hold up. Apparently the universe hated him, so full frontal nudity was imminent if he didn’t take precautionary measures. “I could say the same to you. How’d you get in?”

“I have a key. I’m showing the place for the Lowells so they can rent it out.” She lowered the pepper spray and swept her other hand in his direction. “I was bringing flowers by to brighten up the place. I have someone coming over later to see it.”

Ash looked down at his feet where shards of glass glinted in the lamplight and a puddle of water had spread like some kind of abstract art, mixing with the blood from his cut and the scattered flowers. His foot was burning like hell. “Well, it’s not for rent anymore. I’m…using it.”

Her brow creased, and she glanced around, noticing the boxes for the first time. “Using it? You always stay at Grace and Charlie’s when you visit.”

God, he didn’t want to get into this with Kincaid. He’d always made sure to bring a date home for Christmas, and he’d been extra thrilled the last two years to bring a serious girlfriend home to prove to everyone how well he was doing. Without this town. Without his parents. Without Kincaid. That he was just fine. Now here he was, right back where he’d started. “I needed a place for a little longer to get some writing done. Someplace quiet.”

The Ones That Got Away

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: December 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Roni Loren

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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Review: The One You Fight For by Roni Loren

Posted January 2, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The One You Fight For by Roni LorenReviewer: Rowena
The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3) by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #3
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away , The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget, The One for You
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 1, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

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?

Roni Loren strikes again. She writes a captivating romance about two people with difficult pasts, coming together in love in such an emotional way. This wasn’t an easy book to read because it deals with the aftermath of a school shooting, years later, both characters are adults but they’re still struggling with the events of that day. The heroine is a victim, she lost her sister in the school shooting and her family has never completely healed from her sister dying and the way that she died. So throw in that the man she falls in love with is the shooter’s brother? Yeah, you get it.

Right from the very beginning, I was invested in this series. I thought it was such an interesting premise for a bunch of books to be centered around a school shooting, and dealing with that traumatic event years later when each victim and survivor were adults. The previous books featured victims from the school shooting so we saw how the shooting shaped who they were, saw them overcome individual obstacles to finally move on and stop letting that day dictate their lives. This book tackles the other side, the guilt of a family member of the school shooter.

I really enjoyed both Taryn and Shaw’s characters. I thought they were interesting people on their own with Taryn turning to psychology to try to help the cause by preaching preventative actions rather than reactionary ones and Shaw’s guilt really hit me. I mean, how often do people think about the people on the other side of the coin? Shaw carried a lot of guilt for what his brother did and seeing him try to navigate his life and the lengths he went to carry on was pretty intense. My heart hurt for him because he seriously paid for crimes that weren’t his but he took the punishment day in and day out because he felt that he deserved it and man, that was a punch to the gut for me. Seeing them come together, fall in love, and then find a way to be together with everything against them made for some intense reading and I thought Loren handled their story well.

This isn’t a perfect story. It isn’t an easy story either. There were times in the book where I wasn’t a fan of how things were handled but for the most part, I was invested with what was happening. I was invested in who Taryn and Shaw were and the attraction that was building steam between them.

I was torn going on into reading this book because, on one hand, I was excited about Taryn’s story and seeing how things would work out between her, someone who lost a sibling to the horrific actions of Shaw’s sibling. On the other hand, I was scared that because of the issues dealt with in this book, that it wouldn’t be given the care that it needed and deserved but I shouldn’t have worried so much because like I said, Loren handled their story well. I’m glad that I read this book and am pretty anxious to see more from these characters. I recommend.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

The Ones That Got Away

four-stars


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Review: The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren

Posted June 25, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The One You Can’t Forget by Roni LorenReviewer: Rowena
The One You Can't Forget (The Ones Who Got Away, #2) by Roni Loren
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

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.

The One You Can’t Forget is the second book in the The Ones that Got Away series by Roni Loren and it features Rebecca Lindt, one of the Long Acre High School shootings survivors. Rebecca was the middle-man in the couple from the first books romance. The hero from book 1 and Rebecca were a couple when Finn fell in love with Olivia. During the shooting, he left Olivia’s side to rush to protect Rebecca and even with all of the heroics from Finn, Rebecca was still shot in the leg.

Rebecca has moved on from Finn and though she likes to think that she has moved on from the shooting, she never fully dealt with the demons she carries from that night so the school shooting still haunts her. She’s a divorce attorney at her father’s firm and she deals with a lot of unhappy couples. When Rebecca is robbed at gunpoint on her walk home from work, she meets Wes Garrett, a guy that just happened to walk up on her being robbed and the robbers run off before any damage is done to her. A dog, who is her true hero, was shot in the process and Wes helps Rebecca get the dog to a vet (his brother) and helps Rebecca get situated at home.

Going into this book, I wasn’t really sure how to take Rebecca’s character. I didn’t know if I was going to fall in love with her as easily as I did the others because Rebecca is a lot more reserved. She holds all of her cards close to her chest so I didn’t know if I’d connect with her character all that much. I’m super glad to report that I really enjoyed Rebecca’s character. She’s not perfect and there were times when I was frustrated with her thought processes and her choices but in the end, she really comes full circle and when she finally stands up for herself and for Wes in the end with her father? I literally cheered for joy because holy cow, that scene was a long time coming.

Wes was fantastic. He was a new character and what made his character interesting was that he was trying to put his life back together after his ex-wife took him to the cleaners and put a stop on the dreams he was so close to fulfilling for himself. That Rebecca was the lawyer that helped his ex-wife steal that dream from him wasn’t an easy pill for him to swallow but the way that he handled finding out about who Rebecca was, I thought Roni Loren did a great job of writing that out realistically.

I thought that the romance was super sweet and the way that they came together was so organic and just all around real that I had no trouble jumping in and loving the hell out of the two of them. I cannot wait for Taryn’s book and I’m super anxious for Kincaid’s book so I’ll be waiting patiently for these to come out.

Overall, this book was solid. Rebecca and Wes were likable characters with interesting backgrounds that made reading about them interesting. There were times when I wanted to throttle Rebecca and even Wes but for the most part, I loved these two and their story. I definitely recommend.

Grade: 4 out of 5

The Ones That Got Away


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Sunday Spotlight: The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Loren

Posted June 24, 2018 by Rowena in Features, Giveaways | 6 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I was really interested in the premise of this series when Roni Loren first announced it and I couldn’t wait to read the first book once it came out. I enjoyed that book so much that The One You Can’t Forget went straight to the top of my wishlist so I’m super thrilled to be featuring this book today. It’s just as great as the first book and I hope today’s excerpt entices you to read it.

Check it out.

Sunday Spotlight: The One You Can’t Forget by Roni LorenThe One You Can't Forget (The Ones Who Got Away, #2) by Roni Loren
Series: The Ones Who Got Away #2
Also in this series: The Ones Who Got Away , The Ones Who Got Away, The One You Can't Forget, The One You Fight For (The Ones Who Got Away, #3), The One for You
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

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.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

Wes Garrett peeked through the crack in the door to the apartment inside, eyeing the small group of women laughing and drinking champagne. One was wearing a party hat with a big light-up dick on it. He shut the door and leaned against the wall in the hallway. “I can’t believe I’m considering this.”

Suzie grinned wickedly at him, her lip ring glinting in the hallway light. “Don’t be such a prude, Garrett. What happened to that wild, try-anything-once guy I used to know?”

His jaw clenched. “Are you really asking me that?”

She waved a dismissive hand. “You know that’s not what I mean. I don’t want post-apocalyptic you. That sucked.”

“Ya think?”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m talking about the you before everything went to shit. You’ve swung too far in the other direction.” She shrugged. “Walking the straight and narrow doesn’t mean not having any fun or, you know, a sense of humor.”

“Suze…”

“This is a good gig.” She pinned him with her gaze. “Three hundred bucks for two hours of your time. All you’re going to be doing is teaching drunk chicks how to cook simple things. You teach cooking every day. This is no different.”

He gave her a droll look. “I teach cooking to teenagers. I get to wear my chef’s whites. I don’t have to cook naked.”
“Ugh. You’re not going to be naked. That would be a major kitchen hazard. Just…shirtless. And hey, with all your tattoos, you have some added coverage.”

Christ. This was what his life had come to? From four-star restaurants to this? He’d thought teaching at an after-school program was a giant tumble down the staircase from his chef dreams, but this was a new level. The basement. At least with the kids, he could convince himself he was training future chefs. Here he would be the special of the day. “I don’t know.”

She reached out and grabbed his hands, her face earnest beneath the fringe of bright-pink hair. “Come on, Wes. My other guy called in. Shirtless Chefs is just getting off the ground. If I have chefs no-showing for parties, I’m going to catch hell in the online reviews, and the business will tank before I really get rolling. You’ve got the skills. You’ve got the blond bad-boy thing going, which is going to rock their socks off. And once upon a time, you could charm the ladies, so I know you’re capable. Plus, you said you needed the extra money. This is easy cash. Win-win.”

Wes grimaced. He hated needing the money. Hated that he was anywhere near that place he’d been so long ago, where he’d had to scrape together every damn dime. He’d thought he was far past that, and then boom, life had exploded. But need wasn’t even the right word. He had enough to live on right now with his teaching gig. He knew how to stretch his dollars. What he wanted the money for was a stupid idea. Something he shouldn’t be messing with. His family would kick his ass if they even knew he was thinking about it.

Still, he couldn’t help closing his eyes and picturing the beat-up school bus his friend Devin had shown him last week. The old bus had looked like it’d been rolled off the side of a rocky cliff and set on fire, but Wes had been able to see the bones beneath, the potential to be converted into a food truck. He’d gotten that itch he’d tried to ignore since he’d lost everything. The what-ifs.

He’d found himself inquiring about a loan at the bank. He’d known the answer before asking, but he’d asked anyway. And he’d put out feelers with his friends, telling them to give him a call if they had any extra catering or temporary cooking gigs.

Of course, Suzie had been the one to call, and she hadn’t told him exactly how her new private chef business worked or the name she’d chosen for it until he’d arrived. She was smart enough to know he would’ve run in the other direction.

But now he was here and she needed his help. And dammit, he wanted the money. He tilted his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. “What am I teaching them to make?”

When she didn’t answer immediately, he lifted his head, finding her biting her lip.

“Suze,” he said, warning in his voice.

She held up her palms. “Don’t hate me, okay? There’s a bruschetta recipe and a bourbon nut brittle that you’re going to love. But some of the other stuff is…themed.”

His shoulders sagged in acceptance. “I’m making dick-shaped things, aren’t I?”

“Um…” Her nose wrinkled. “There may be recipes for Big, Meaty Balls and Eat My Taco Dip.”

“I fucking hate you.”

She grinned and stepped up to pat him on the cheek. “You’re the best, Garrett. If I didn’t want to put lipstick on the merchandise, I’d kiss you.”

“You say the sweetest things, Suze. I just feel showered by your sweetness and affection.”

“Right?” She pinched his hip. “Now go in there, be nice, and look pretty.”

He gave her a look. “You treat all your employees like cattle?”

She stuck out her tongue. “Only my friends who won’t sue me.”

He let out a tired breath. “I won’t sue you, but if you tell anyone about this…”

“I won’t.”

“I could lose my job.” Not to mention whatever shreds of dignity he had left.

She mimed sealing her lips and tossing the key. “Your secret’s safe. I swear.”

“Fine. I’ll go in.”

She did a little celebratory clap, but then her smile sagged a bit. “And you sure you’re cool with alcohol being at the party? I mean, I know I’m pushing you to do this, but for real, if that part’s a problem—”

“I told you it’s not an issue,” he said, cutting her off, anger trying to surface. “Tonight, that’s the least of my worries.”

She pressed her lips together and nodded. “Okay. Good.”

He ran a hand through his hair, resigned. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Right.” She swept an arm out toward the door. “Godspeed, my friend.”

With one last steeling breath, he stepped past her and pushed open the door. All eyes turned his way, and the blond woman with the penis hat grinned widely and clapped her hands together. “Ooh, y’all got me a stripper?”

Wes almost reversed his steps right there. Three. Two. One. Right back out the door. But he gritted his teeth and kept moving forward.

The Ones That Got Away

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Sunday Spotlight: June 2018

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About the Author

Roni Loren

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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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