Pub. Date: March 28, 2017
Source: e-ARC + finished hardback via publisher (Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!)
Summary: Violet and Finn were “meant to be,” said everyone, always. They ended up together by the hands of fate aligning things just so. Three years into their marriage, they have a wonderful little boy, and as the three of them embark on their first vacation as a family, Violet can’t help thinking that she can’t believe her luck. Life is good.
So no one is more surprised than she when Finn leaves her at the beach—just packs up the hotel room and disappears. And takes their son with him. Violet is suddenly in her own worst nightmare, and faced with the knowledge that the man she’s shared her life with, she never really knew at all.
Caitlin and Finn have been best friends since way back when, but when Finn shows up on Caitlin’s doorstep with the son he’s wanted for kidnapping, demands that she hide them from the authorities, and threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy her own family if she doesn’t, Caitlin faces an impossible choice.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
There are some couples whose How We Met story simply begs to be told. Matt and I definitely had a whirlwind instalove romance ripped straight out of a YA novel – complete with an “it turned out we actually crossed paths before” moment. A good friend of mine was convinced her now-husband would forever be a great friend…until, years after doing the whole friend thing, it turned out they really, really liked each other. In Almost Missed You, Violet and Finn meet on a beach (she, newly single and more than happy to take a ‘mecation’ and he, the awkward man out in a group of ridiculously wealthy wedding guests). Just like randomly running into an acquaintance when you’re both traveling abroad, Violet and Finn realized that, despite being multiple states away from home, they’re actually from the same town. Better yet, they were among the tiny handful of kids who attended an all too shortly lived summer camp.
Unfortunately, a medical emergency caused the two to lose track of one another that night, ultimately leaving their brief spark as just that. Fate intervenes once more when Finn posts a Missed Connections ad on Craigslist. The woman who responds most definitely is not Violet, but shockingly the pair hit it off and wind up madly in love – even engaged.
It takes a tragedy to finally, finally bring the two full circle and, this time, Violet is determined not to let this man slip away again. One wedding and a baby later, and Violet and Finn are that couple. The couple who still gaze adoringly at one another, who still hold hands as they walk down the street, the pair who just seem meant to be. Until the day Finn takes off with their son while on vacation, abandoning Violet in their hotel room and shutting off service on his cell so she’s unable to get in touch.
Instantly I was hooked. Told through alternating chapters (and an alternating time line) Almost Missed You details the night Violet and Finn meet, to the years spent without each other (and with other people) and their meeting once again, to the present day. When Finn leaves, he winds up at Caitlin’s house. Caitlin, his best friend. Caitlin, whose secret he holds and is so desperate for a safe haven that he’s not above blackmailing her. Either give him the security code to her family’s lake-front cabin or he’ll destroy her marriage. Now, it could just be that I’m VERY familiar with thrillers, but this terrible, horrible secret didn’t surprise me in the least. I certainly understood her fears however, and the length she felt she needed to go to in order to appease Finn.
What follows is a manhunt of epic proportions. Because Finn crossed state lines, the FBI have entered the fray. Violet is practically worrying herself sick, unable to move from her son’s bed, imagining how scared he must be, all the while unable to make sense of Finn’s abrupt disappearance. Caitlin is torn between keeping her secret safe – and doing what she knows is right. Finn is dealing with demons of his own which are rapidly spiraling out of control. The moment the stories collide together I couldn’t look away (not that I was able to tear my eyes from the book before!)
I’ll be honest. While I was utterly captivated, once Finn’s motives were revealed, I felt more sad than anything. Sad for Violet, for believing in what turned out to be a huge farce. Don’t let my feelings fool you, I seriously enjoyed this one to the point where, when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it and counting down the minutes until I could get back to it. I’m wildly impressed by this debut and can’t wait to see what Strawser does next! As a side note, she’s a Pittsburgh gal! AND she’ll be at my local indie this Thursday! You better believe I’ll be there.