Review: The One That Got Away by A.J. Pine (Kingston Ale House #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by Entangled Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

"It's good to see you like this," she said, and he raised a brow.

"Like what?"

"Like your heart is finally mine."

"Always was. Just took me a while to tell you."

"I should have know," she said, and he hated that tinge of regret in her voice.

"Now you do."

She kissed him, her lips languid and soft against his.

"You have my heart, too, you know," she said. "I lost it to you ten years ago. Just took me a while to find it again."

I've read author A.J. Pine's two previous series--If Only and Only You--plus the short story Drummer Girl, which was part of the '80s Mix Tape multi-authored anthology, but I dare say that her latest novel and the starter to her contemporary romance series entitled Kingston Ale House is the her best work to date. She's taken the friends-to-lovers trope and knock it off its axis, giving it her own uniquely beautiful and heart-tugging spin to it. If you've never read an A.J. Pine novel before, you can't get any better than beginning your love affair with her storytelling with The One That Got Away. It's lighthearted but has just enough angst and drama to let you know that what best friends since middle school Jamie Kingston and Brynn Chandler feel for each other and the journey they are to embark upon is neither trivial nor fanciful.

James David Kingston and Brynn Elise Chandler have known each other since middle school and quickly became best friends, a friendship that was tested when they kissed that one and only time at the age of seventeen. They both wanted more but Jamie couldn't commit to a relationship outside of friendship, stressing that he needed his best friend more than he needed a girlfriend. Two wounded hearts and ten years later, they remain the best of friends, but now Brynn is ready to use their high school reunion to see if the kiss she was hoping to get ten years ago from Spencer Matthews--and the one she hopes to finally get upon seeing him again a decade later--is the kiss she was meant to have instead of the one she ended up sharing with Jamie. After all, Jamie's with someone else now and all they'll ever be is best friends...right?

When Jamie finally comes to his senses that he needs to do what he should have done ten years ago and let Brynn know he's in love with her, things don't go as he envisioned. His back-up plan has him inviting Brynn on a road trip that will take them both to California--him to the Beer Fest and her to Spencer's book signing. Maybe this will be his opportunity to convince Brynn that she should choose him over Spencer. Until she makes that choice, Jamie has decided to not say anything about his feelings or admit to the other things he's currently keeping from her. For ten years, he thought they were okay with keeping their friendship the way it was and that one kiss was all they were ever meant to share together. But are Jamie's realizations coming one decade too late and is Brynn prepared to risk getting her heart broken yet again?

Oh, the feels this book gave me! Jamie and Brynn had two weeks on the road together to figure out where their relationship was headed, albeit Brynn wasn't aware that that was the purpose for the trip in the first place, but actually, they've been on this journey for ten years and it all started with that one kiss. There were times that these two so frustrated me because all I wanted was for them to be honest and admit how they felt about each other. Easier said than done, especially after what happened after that first kiss, but gah! Thank goodness these two had people who cared about them and wanted to see them happy around to help them open their eyes to what everyone else has been privy to for years. My heart soared and broke and mended as many times as Brynn's and Jamie's did, but it was all worth it for a book this flippin' good.

This is the sort of series starter that I love because it gives me a story and main characters I can become emotionally invested in while introducing me to a host of supporting characters that I find myself wanting to get to know more about as the series progresses. A.J. Pine has a talent for doing that every single time she's given her readers a new series, to the point that, when it all ends, you feel a certain amount of devastation because you have to say goodbye to characters that feel so familiar already. The One That Got Away is only the beginning of the author's new series and already the bar is set impossibly high, so I'm really anxious to see where A.J. Pine takes us when we get the second book in this Kingston Ale House quartet, but I'm already expecting it to meet my expectations. I'm that confident. Five-plus stars, people. ♥

Release Date: 18 April 2016

Date Read: 18 April 2016

Learn more about A.J. Pine.

Purchase The One That Got Away on Amazon | B&N | Kobo.


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