Cover Image: The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away

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Member Reviews

A beautiful book, I felt like I was falling in love for the first time again. The dual timeline brought us back and forth 20 years, seeing a romance unfold, but interspersed with post university life, I loved this and read it in one sitting ❤️❤️

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DNF @ 31%

Thank you, Netgalley, for the ARC!

Apologies in advance.

None of my ARCs have been doing me well so far as I try to catch up on them.

The premise is way cooler than the actual book itself, and I say this having not finished the book because it just couldn’t grasp my interest. The characters were boring and the two timelines were challenging to follow.

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I am so grateful to Aria & Aries, Aria and Netgalley for this book. I was never bored reading about realationship. Each one is unique. And I love the nice ending and I wished they never ended. If you need something deep I think this is perfect

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If you’re looking for heart wrenching angsty love then The One That Got Away by Charlotte Rixon should be your next read.

It is full of heartfelt portrayals of growing up and making mistakes and while still having your happy ending in the end. The dual point of view will take you through Claire’s and Benjamin’s lives in the years leading up to the bombing and their various life mishaps.

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More creative than some I have seen in this trope. Did not strike me as particularly remarkable, but still a pleasant reading experience.

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I’m not sure how I feel about this one. I binged it in one sitting as I was compelled to find out if the characters got their HEA.

I will say that it’s definitely well written with complex characters and a really interesting storyline that kept me hooked. But, I found myself a little lost at the end of the book. I felt the story, for me, wasn’t quite finished. I didn’t get my usual feeling of contentment I get when I’m done….

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'The One That Got Away' follows the story of CDC, Clara Davies-Clark and Mr BE, Benjamin Edwards, two second-year students at Newcastle University trying to find their place in the world in 2000. When they meet, their worlds shatter: it's like love at first sight. Clara and Benjamin know that a deep connection links them together. And this proves true. But a month into their relationship, Benjamin refuses to reveal to Clara that he's struggling to accept his mother's death, and Clara, who's been cheated on, and traumatised by her own sister's cancer, fears abandonment. This relationship is complicated.

In 2022, Clara remembers the sweet memories of their relationship. She is married, but she can't get Benjamin out of her head. Until the day something terrible happens at Newcastle's football stadium. Clara knows Benjamin would have never missed a match, so she fears the worst. To know the truth, she goes back in time. She returns to Newcastle with the strong wish to find him again and make up for the terrible way they parted at the end of University.

I'm not gonna lie: this book was a rollercoaster of emotions. While I could barely bear Clara's 2000 version, which I found extremely annoying, infuriating, and suffocating, I learned to understand her and empathise with her. The theme of the story, losing someone with whom you had great memories and relations and connections, spoke to me in many ways. That's why I choose to read this novel. It made me reflect upon myself, somehow, upon how I was at Clara's young age, how I am now, and how I think about things and relationships that I had in my younger life now. Making this work on myself, and as a reader, I could grow sympathetic with Clara. After the first part, more specifically, I thought her story very interesting. Charlotte Rixon puts her finger on issues occurring in romantic relationships nowadays--issues that aren't often discussed. Clara's problem with sex and being loved by Thom, her experience of seeing a sex therapist, and the supposed help from her supposed friend, Lauren, were super relevant to the story and understanding how adult relationships work. I found it educative in a way, at least I learned a lot from Clara.

The same thing goes for Benjamin. While I could relate to his vulnerability as a person and someone who just lost his mother, I struggled to understand the reasons why he kept everything bottled up inside him. Additionally, pleasing people was kind of the job he gave himself, and while it was part of his personality and his character, I found myself rolling my eyes several times and wanting to shake him up a little. I suppose I saw myself in him, and that annoyed me. His relationship with his son was very sweet and, similarly, I enjoyed that Rixon tackled important topics associated with men: peer pressure, sexual abuse, vulnerability, etc.

On the whole, I found the story entertaining, though quite predictable. I think I could recommend it to a few of my readers, but it would come with the warning that it is NOT a love story. This isn't romance, not entirely. Although romance takes a little part of the plot, the story is much more complex than that. Instead, I will speak of it as both a coming-to-age, a contemporary, and a social novel. These, I believe, are much closer to the truth than simply 'romance'.

Thank you Netgalley and Aria & Aries for the opportunity to read this book in advance and for letting me review it!

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This was a beautiful and emotional story that dealt with some very heavy topics. This was definitely not a light romance but it will still make you smile. It’s a story about the power of first love, the repercussions of mistakes that are made, and how a tragic incident can bring people back together. Highly recommended.
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

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I enjoyed this while I was reading it, but it was so jam-packed with very intense drama that it was at times a bit overwhelming to read.

There's a lot of different threads here, but I didn't get the sense that the story truly knew what it was trying to be. A lot of these threads (including everything from second chance romance to football culture to alcohol abuse to senseless violence and sexual assault) were only barely explored.

On top of this, the ending was so abrupt. So many of these themes felt only partially explored, and it just ultimately made the read unsatisfying to me.

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The following review was posted on my blog two days ago, on Thursday, February 2nd, the day of publication. It was shared on Instagram yesterday and today, and has already been posted on Goodreads. The blog post includes links to order the books and to its Goodreads page, so readers can add it to their to-be-read books.

“A simple life with people I love. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

Genre: General Fiction
Actual Rating: 5 stars
Spicy Meter: -10, but also 3 fire emojis
Content Warnings: The present timeline revolves around the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Describes rape and sexual assault, alcoholism, mass death, missing people, parental death, cancer, self harm, suicidal thoughts, suicide, and cheating.

“The One That Got Away” follows Clara and Benjamin at different times in their lives—from meeting in uni and falling in love, to a horrible fallout and not speaking for years, to reuniting after a great tragedy fell onto their college town. With a handful of imperfect characters, this is as close to life as fiction can get.

At the beginning, this book felt like I was watching a late 90’s movie, I don’t even know how to explain the feel, but I absolutely adored it. Then it just proceeded to shred my heart to pieces. This is not a second chance romance, this is the heartfelt story of life.

It worked the multiple timelines beautifully—leaving questions along the story that were all answered by the end. The not knowing was something else here, I would’ve read this book in a single sitting if I had had the time.

I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a heartbreaking but captivating story. I would compare it to “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara, but perhaps a little less traumatic (and with a smaller page count).

If you click here, you’ll be redirected to Goodreads, so you can add the book to your TBR list.

Or you could click here, and be redirected to Amazon, so you can order the book.

ARC provided by NetGalley and Aria & Aries in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: February 2, 2023

“And now it’s as though a switch has gone off in her brain, a kind of amnesia for her current life. All she can think about is him. About the past she never truly left behind.”

“I just feel sometimes like my life has gone off-track somewhere. That I’m living the wrong life. The wrong version of my life. (…) With the wrong person.”

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Thanks to NetGalley for the arc!

The story begins with a news alert about a bombing. This shocked me a little! But our main character, Clara, heard the news and instantly thinks of her first love. He always attends football games where the bomb went off so without further thought she travels to the scene to see if she can find Benjamin.

It’s been twenty years since they’ve lost touch. The reader then takes many journeys about the beginning of their relationship and also glimpses into both of their adult lives. So much has changed in 20 years. Clara & Benjamin were an unlikely pair in college- her coming from privilege, and he not. She was a party girl and he was quiet, reserved. But they found something magical in their relationship. An event occurs that causes things to end. Now she’s looking back at her life wondering what if.

This book isn’t what I was expecting. There’s a lot of heavy topics. I was thinking this was a second chance romance. Doesn’t everyone wonder what life would be like if they’d stayed with their first love? That idea really captured me. I wouldn’t classify this as a romance but maybe women’s fiction. I did struggle with this book a bit, maybe due to my preconceived notion of its topic. I felt like we got a little too much information on unnecessary things. Overall it was well done but heavy.

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The One That Got Away.
I love a second chance love story - I’m married to the one that got away. So this is right up my street. It starts unusually for a story like this with the end. Which gives the reader the enjoyment of spending the book trying to connect the dots (and in my case getting it wrong). This isn’t your typical fluffy romance so be prepared for some dark topics. It covers addiction, sexual assault, mental health and cancer to name but a few. A lot of things I wasn’t prepared for going in. Clara & Benjamin are our main characters in this story. A lot of reviews I’ve read suggest Clara is quite unlikeable, but if I’m really honest I see a lot of younger myself in Clara’s earlier story. I remember being a neurotic teenager very well. It’s definitely a great take on first love, the rose tinted classes we look back on it with and how we move forward and accept our flaws and the flaws of those we love.
4 Stars!

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Fave quote: “A simple life with people I love. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

Going into this I expected a light-hearted romance. This book is not that. It’s a story filled with emotion and follows Clara and Ben who fall in love at university. They sadly grow apart due to varying factors and circumstances, but they always stay in each others minds and hearts.

The book is a dual timeline, flicking between past and present day. I love dual timelines in a book and I found it really well done and easy to follow. The characters were well developed and I was really invested in the story. There were a few twists which I did predict but it didn’t ruin the story or suspense for me. It covers an array of topics, including sexual assault, abuse, cancer, addiction and mental health.

Definitely recommend this one!

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Thank you St. Martins Press for this digital ARC.

I picked this one up thinking it would be a light read and because I love a good second chance romance story. However, this wasn’t a light read, it actually dealt with some really heavy stuff. There also wasn’t much romance in these pages.

Clara and Ben were teenagers and in love, but their relationship fell apart. She married a man and he went off and had a fling that ended up with him becoming a parent. It is now decades later and a news coverage story of a bombing has Clara thinking about the one that got away.

I really struggled with caring about the characters in this book because they weren’t very likable, especially Clara. I did find myself having a soft spot for Ben, but I didn’t feel the connection he had with Clara.

I think if you want to pick this up, just know that it is packed with triggers (bombing, drug abuse, child neglect…to name a few).

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A heart-wrenching tale for fans of Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Love of my Other Life by CJ Connolly. A particular niche of second chance "what if" fiction that moves me.

Can we ever really make things right? Can we overcome the trauma of our pasts? This is a heavy book so if easily triggered, maybe skip this one.

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I am really surprised that this book doesn't have a higher rating, I absolutely loved it. It was quite different than your usual romance novels and it is a unique take on the second chance romance trope. Benjamin and Clara meet in 2000 and dated for a couple of years. It was an intense relationship. Twenty years later there is a bomb at the stadium where Benjamin has season tickets. Clara sets off to find him in the melee.

There is a lot of heavy subject matter in this book...spousal abuse, sexual assault, addiction and cancer to name but a few. The author handles these situations in a realistic and sensitive manner and I appreciated that. The book is very character driven and they are well rounded and fully flesh out, flaws and all. I really enjoyed the two timelines as we get to see how this couple meets and how their relationship changes over time, it was also great to have the story from both points of view. The chapters are short and I liked that because as soon as I came to a new one I kept repeating oh just one more. Imagine my surprise to find that the author is none other than Charlotte Duckworth, I have loved her books for years. This one is captivating, emotive and I highly recommend it and the author's other works. All. The. Stars.

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In THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, Charlotte Rixon explores soul mates through the story of perfect life partners who met, fell in love, battled, and parted, to live the rest of their lives with the lingering feeling that they let the love of a lifetime get away from them. For me, the story of Clare and Ben rang true, as awkward and loving and confused any pair of young lovers might be, making the contrast to their current day selves all the more fascinating and heartbreaking. Rixon brilliantly uses a literal inciting incident to put the once-lovers back into each other's lives with the years between them presenting both challenge, opportunity, and sense that time was not on their side -- and neither were they ready for it to be. At both time periods, the past and the present, there are so many forces pulling the pair apart, from geography to social class, that Rixon did a marvelous job of making their union believable. Yes, the characters acted terribly, making stupid life choices, and causing incredible hurt, but they also felt like real people to me, true to themselves, to the essential people they are at heart. I received a copy of this book and these thoughts are my own, unbiased opinions.

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An interesting story and a great concept for revisiting first love but I found the main characters really hard to warm to and made it harder to finish the book

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This is a really smart twist on what could have been a run of the mill romance/Sliding Doors kind of story. It takes the relationship between Clara and Benjamin, who meet and fall in a volatile kind of love in college, and flashes backwards and forwards between then and their history up until the present day. There are some pretty great twists along the way that are cleverly hidden in plain sight, which keeps the momentum of the story going right when it could start to get predictable. I truly enjoyed this one and look forward to Charlotte Rixon's next books.

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A tale of young love, the mistakes made and the consequences that follow.

Ben and Clara meet in college and the feelings between them are overwhelming. The characters are not easy to like, they fight all the time, make horrible choices and fall apart.

Years later, Clara is married to Thom when a tragedy strikes in Bens hometown. She returns not only searching for Ben but also for herself.

While it was a slow read for me and I found myself annoyed with the main characters and their miscommunication, I only had to remind myself of how young they are when they meet.
I think if we look hard enough we can each find ourselves in their story. The jealousies and insecurities that arise with our first love are like no other. Rixon does a great job of putting that to paper.

The story picks up about 3/4 of the way through when we can really focus on them as adults and the lessons learned. The character development was well done.

This one does touch upon some serious topics such as: alcoholism, infertility, mental health and sexual abuse.

Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for my Advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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