Charlie Falkingham is sure that someone is following him. He’s thought that many times before, but this time he’s sure of it. Everyone knows that Charlie has mental health issues after living through a childhood kidnapping, and while his father fully supports him and the local police appease him, no one actually believes him. The detective that rescued Charlie listens to him and placates his fears, but when he retires, Charlie is left without the one lifeline that was helping hold him together. That’s how he meets Takoda Dyani.
Takoda is new to the police force, but has made quite a name for himself already. His partners don’t want to work with him and Takoda doesn’t just have a chip on his shoulder, he’s carrying the entire mountain. When Takoda is assigned to be Charlie’s consultant, he’s livid as he thinks he certainly has better things to do then coddle a rich boy with an overactive imagination. But, if he can’t handle Charlie in a polite, civil manner, his career is over. Takoda starts to see things happening around Charlie and maybe not all that is going on is in Charlie’s head. Charlie is convinced that someone is stalking him and Takoda starts to soften as he wants to protect Charlie, but Takoda has to figure out the truth before it’s too late for both of them.
Nicky James keeps the tension high in this romantic suspense novel. The title of this book, The One That Got Away, sets up the scene as we learn that Charlie is indeed the only one that got away from a horrific ordeal. Kidnapped at the age of 12, Charlie’s mental health has never fully recovered from the trauma he suffered. Now, at the age of 29, he has a lot of mental health issues and, while he is a successful writer, his triggers control his life. His father devoted his life to watching over Charlie and Charlie has a therapist and he has medication, but when life overwhelms him, he retreats into the fantasy world he created. He has never dated and he thinks that part of his life is closed off forever until he meets Takoda.
Takoda is tough to take and most people don’t like him. He’s rude and abrasive, he carries the scars of his father abandoning his family, and he is resentful and jealous of anyone that appears to have had an easier time in life than he was given. He’s on his last chance at the station, but he has zero sympathy and zero empathy and his mouth and his attitude cause distress for Charlie until Takoda realizes that some issues may not be all in Charlie’s head.
The tension in this story stays dialed up most of the way through. From Charlie’s everyday rituals of lock checking and window checking, to the very real fear he feels that someone is watching him, it feels effortless to be transported to Charlie’s mind. Takoda and Charlie form a real connection and having a policeman take his concerns seriously can set Charlie’s mind at ease even the littlest bit and Takoda starts to thaw and care for Charlie.
The detective that rescued Charlie continued on at the police station and Charlie brought every single one of his fears and concerns to the man and it’s said that the detective cares about Charlie. However, when the detective retires, no one tells Charlie, although they all know it will blindside him and completely unravel his sense of safety and that I didn’t understand. Also, I felt that Charlie was owed a fairly large apology by the police at the end, which never came. For as high as the tenson was for most of the book, the last portion slowed down for me and the reveal—well I saw that coming way before it happened and I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. We also only learn the tiniest of details about what Charlie experienced and, while I didn’t need every detail, some more would have helped pull his character together.
The One That Got Away handles psychological issues woven into a romantic suspense plot. It’s easy to become caught up in Charlie’s fears and it’s easy to want to root for a more stable life for him. Nicky James once again creates intriguing characters and ties them to an intense plot, which makes for a thoroughly absorbing read.