They were together in a janitor's closet on the night of their prom, where the majority of their class was shot dead, and then he left her alone, trying to save as many of their classmates that he could, leaving her exposed to the shooters.
Now they meet again, twelve years later, during interviews for a documentary. They're strangers, completely different from the boy and girl that used to make-out in secret, the experience having shaped them both, but the spark is still there...
Sometimes giving a new-to-you author a shot pays out big time. This book is one of those. I went in without expectations, and was blown away by the story and its characters. I'm not really a big fan of straight-up contemporary romance, but this one hit all the right notes, despite not having any real suspense or dangerous situations.
It's a lesson in life, really. How a tragedy can shape a person, influence their choices, and how much strength and stubbornness, it can take to get out of the boundaries of predictability and "safety" a life without risks offers. But that is only a half-life, as both Olivia and Finn proved with their story.
I liked their relationship, the reunion that showed there was still something there between them, but I loved how they tried to be just friends in the beginning, tried to ignore the big elephant of their attraction. And I loved how they made the decision to give it a go despite knowing it was temporary and it was going to hurt in the end.
Did I find the romance, the reunion, the reconnection somewhat too easy, too much like it was nicely tied with a bow? Yes, I did. It was too convenient and neat they way they found each other and slipped into a relationship, but it worked because it was so convenient. They've been through that night together, they knew the "pressure points", and they knew the drill. I don't think it could've worked without that experience and that "intimate" knowledge from twelve years prior.
This was a poignant story with wonderful, nicely-developed, layered, scarred characters (supporting cast included, and I cannot wait to read the other three girls' books), filled with friendship, snark, humor, and topped by a sometimes bittersweet, sexy second-chance romance.
Speaking of humor...
“Do you need us to get you anything, sweetie?” Kincaid asked, sitting on the opposite side of the bed from Finn. “Water? A pill? A former football player in his underwear? Because we’ve got the last one covered. And I can make the first two happen.”
Liv looked up at that, registering the fact that Finn was shirtless and his thick hair was sticking up every which way. Her gaze drifted down to his black boxer briefs. “You’re in your underwear.”
“’Fraid so,” he said. “Good thing I don’t sleep naked.”
“We’ve got to up our game. Liv’s about to tackle a letter item and her football player. She’s officially become my patron saint.”
“Hey, erect is a perfectly proper word. I can’t help it if your mind was in the gutter.”
“I’ve been celibate for two years. Assume it’s always there. I’ve set up shop and built a little gutter town. We’re about to elect a mayor.”
“You’re allowed to have fun. You’re allowed to have a fling with an old boyfriend and not feel like it’s some big life decision or an unhealthy coping mechanism. Be smart about it, but don’t deny yourself some simple life pleasures. Taking your photos. Hanging out with your awesome, amazing, super-wise friends. And hot cop penis.”
A real laugh burst out of Liv this time, and she quickly pressed her hand over her mouth to staunch it. “He’s FBI, for the record.”
“Federal cop penis,” Kincaid corrected. “That’s top shelf. It has authority across state lines.”
“They sell engagement rings at the airport?”
“Yep.” He smirked. “Next to the Cinnabon.”