Title: The One That Got Away
Author: Bethany Chase
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, this bright, funny debut from a fresh voice in fiction offers a delicious take on love, family, and what it means to build a home of one’s own.
Sarina Mahler thinks she has her life all nailed down: a growing architecture practice in Austin, Texas, and an any-day-now proposal from her loving boyfriend, Noah. She’s well on her way to having the family she’s hoped for since her mother’s death ten years ago. But with Noah on a temporary assignment abroad and retired Olympic swimmer — and former flame — Eamon Roy back in town asking her to renovate his new fixer-upper, Sarina’s life takes an unexpected turn.
Eamon proves to be Sarina’s dream client, someone who instinctively trusts every one of her choices — and Sarina is reminded of all the reasons she was first drawn to him back in the day. Suddenly her carefully planned future with Noah seems a little less than perfect. And when tragedy strikes, Sarina is left reeling. With her world completely upended, she is forced to question what she truly wants in life — and in love.
Every woman has one. That name you Google at two o’clock in the morning. That intoxicating connection that somehow never solidified into anything real; that particular memory you still visit every now and then, for that guaranteed hit of pure, sugar-packed dopamine. It’s that story that starts with “There was this one time” and ends, reluctantly, with “but I guess . . .”
Tonight, I’m going to see Eamon Roy again, for the first time in more than seven years. My one and only one-night stand; the lone exception in thirteen years of not-on-the-first-date sex. It’s not that I put a lot of stock in rules when it comes to dating; I just don’t find it appealing to sleep with a guy until I know I like the idea of waking up next to him. I liked waking up next to Eamon. I liked it a lot. And every other guy I’ve been with has felt the same way about me—including, notably, the man I’m planning to marry. But Eamon was different. Eamon was a first and last in several categories.
“Sarina! Penis straws or penis shot glasses?”
Oh, my good holy lord. They’re back to the party favors again.
My roommate, Danny, perches his pointy elbows on the edge of the restaurant table, swinging one long, loafer-clad foot expectantly. He’s serving as Best Gay, a Technicolor hybrid of best man/maid of honor/wedding planner/emcee, for his business partner, Jay, and Jay’s fiancé, Dominic, who are getting married this fall up in Palm Springs. Tonight, his self-appointed mission has been to convince the reluctant couple to throw a raunchy double-bachelor party here in Austin a few weeks before the wedding.
I glance at Jay for guidance, but all I receive is a bug-eyed headshake. Clearly Jay wants neither straws nor shot glasses. Too bad for Jay.
“How about penis pops?” I suggest, relishing Jay’s gape of horror.
“Genius!” crows Danny, clapping his hands so loudly that more than a few heads swivel toward us.
“They had them at this bachelorette party I went to a few months ago,” I continue, straining to be heard above the din of the crowd filling the back courtyard of the restaurant. “Cherry-flavored. Lots of anatomical detail. I’m talking veins and everything.”
Jay grabs one of the leather-backed drink menus stacked on the table and swats my shoulder with it. “Danny, we are not having penis pops, for the love of god.”
Danny raises a peremptory hand. “Yes we are. You ceded control when you put me in charge of this whole thing.”
“Well, then we have to have it somewhere other than Albion,” says Jay. “I’m not giving our staff a photo op of me with a red candy penis in my mouth.”
“Nope, it’s happening here. Though it’s cute you think they take you seriously as it is.”
Jay, who treasures his status as the enforcer of their managerial duo, starts to protest, but Danny quells him and the conversation moves on to other details of the party. My work here is done—the back office at the restaurant will be festooned with high-fructose genitals for weeks.
About Bethany Chase
A native of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Bethany Chase headed to Williams College for an English degree and somehow came out the other side an interior designer. When she’s not writing or designing, you can usually find her in a karaoke bar. She lives with her lovely husband and occasionally psychotic cat in Brooklyn, three flights up. This is her first novel.
Q & A with Bethany Chase
• What got you interested in writing?
• I’ve never not been! My love for words has been one of the most consistent characteristics of my personality for my whole life, though it’s taken many different forms. (Poet, journal-writer, email-writer, blogger, novelist.)
• Tell us about the first book you didn’t finish.
• It was a historical romance I started writing when I was fifteen years old and heavily in the thrall of the film version of The Last of the Mohicans, with Daniel Day Lewis. (Which means, specifically, I was in the thrall of Daniel Day Lewis.) So heavily enthralled was I that my novel consisted of a first-person account of a well-bred colonial English lady who for unclear reasons found herself trailing her muddy skirts through the Adirondack forest, accompanied by a ruggedly handsome and ambiguously Native American trapper wearing buckskin. Shockingly, I didn’t complete it.
• Did you ever keep a journal?
• Is there a writer on earth who didn’t? I had kind of abandoned journaling by the time I graduated college, as by that point I had moved on to burdening all of my nearest and dearest with my woes over 2,000-word emails rather than pouring it all out into a journal. But the high school journals are EPIC. Basically, you would have thought I was the first person in the history of humanity to have emotions and be attracted to people who didn’t like me back.
• Did you always want to be a writer?
• Nope. In fact for most of my life I avoided the idea, because I assumed it would be too hard and I’d never make enough money. I’ll let you guess which of those two assumptions has proven to be true.
• What were your favorite books growing up?
• The Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon series were HUGE for me. I mean, they were books about smart, dreamy, romantic, highly verbal girls who wrote, loved beauty in all its forms, hovered at the fringes of social popularity and also really liked being alone. Emily and Anne were and always will be my spirit sisters. Also, I think my many rereads of James Herriot’s marvelous All Creatures Great and Small books legitimately helped form my sense of humor. Between Herriot and all of the Monty Python I watched growing up, I think I wound up with a fairly British sense of humor for an American.
• Who are your favorite authors now?
• Chuck Wendig, Guy Gavriel Kay and Philip Pullman for fantasy; Mary Kubica for suspense; Emily Giffin, Taylor Jenkins Reid and Joshilyn Jackson for women’s fiction; Cara McKenna and Julie James for romance.
• Do you have “one that got away?”
• I did. He was my high school boyfriend. I tracked him down seven years after the fact, like, legitimately slightly stalker-style, and we actually started dating again, and you know what? We weren’t right for each other. At all. It was all very romantic and fraught as long as one of us was pining for the other one, but actually just together, with no angst? It didn’t go anywhere. We are now both very happily married to other people.
• Your bio says you are married—tell us about your love story.
• True story: when we first started dating, we had such strong physical chemistry that I assumed that meant there wasn’t going to be any more to it. My friends would say, “How’s Allen?” And I should shrug and say, “He’s hot.” This led to him being known amongst my circle for the first couple of months as Hot Allen. As far as Sex-and-the-City-style nicknames for guys go, I think he came away in a pretty strong position with that one. But then he just kept growing on me, until a few months into it I realized, holy shit I’m in love with this guy.
• What’s your idea of romance?
• No flowers, no candles, no gestures, will ever be as genuinely romantic as those random little moments that happen when you least expect them and you just get this flash of piercing sweetness and you think, yep, this is it. For me, personally, it often involves humor, or awkwardness, or both. The questionnaire on the dating site where I met my husband asked, “What’s your favorite movie sex scene?” And my answer was, the one in that 90’s Liv Tyler movie Stealing Beauty, where she’s with the guy and it’s all kissing and dreamy music and then he goes to take her underwear off and it gets stuck on her ankle and she laughs—that is THE BEST. Those little beautifully imperfect moments. And also just those moments of kindness and support; like how Anne of Green Gables doesn’t marry the wealthy guy who pulls out all the stops on the glitz and glam—she marries the guy who gave up his local teaching position, at tremendous personal inconvenience, in favor of the farther-away one so that Anne could live at home with her family. That is romance.
• What does home mean to you?
• The place you belong. I think for most of us the specifics of that place change, but the definition never really does.
• How did you come up with your characters’ name?
• Well, Eamon has been my favorite name for a guy ever since the first time I fell in love, at four years old, with my neighbor Eamon McCormick (a nice Russian boy, obviously). And despite the fact that I am usually a strident purist about name spelling, I’ve always thought the unusual spelling “Sarina” had something especially graceful about it. Everyone else was pretty arbitrary. I tend to just go, “okay, think of a name!” and the first one I think of sticks.
• What do you love about the cover for THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY?
• EVERYTHING. Seriously, I hit the cover jackpot. I love the colors, the bird, the graceful lettering, and the way the lettering moves rhythmically back and forth across the page. I could give you a full art-history-style image analysis of how wonderful this cover is in every way.
• What are you reading right now?
• I just started Liza Palmer’s Girl Before a Mirror and am really enjoying it. She’s such a funny yet thoughtful writer.
• Who’s your favorite book couple?
• Anne and Gilbert. Obviously. In all seriousness, in terms of their mutual love, caring and respect for one another I think they are a model partnership for young girls to read about. Clearly it worked for me.
Good Luck to you all!
To know more about Bethany Chase and The One That Got Away go Here