All roads may lead home, but for Samantha Millson it's a trip down not-so-good memory lane. Saying goodbye to her affluent family years before and moving to San Francisco, helping a friend in need means crawling back to stuffy Concord, New Hampshire to reinstate the trust fund she hoped she'd never need. A five-day road trip takes a few left turns when Sam accepts a ride-a-long in the form of her childhood crush Adam Fallon who needs a lift from Vegas to Vermont.
Reuniting as an adult with one's first childhood love is a secret fantasy everyone harbors and is what makes watching Sam and Adam tread that tricky path of getting to know each other again both excruciating and satisfying. Add in a traumatic incident from Samantha's past that severely cripples her capacity to be intimate, it takes forever for these two to get closer than a bucket seat away from each other and allow the sparks to fly. An endless string of awkward motel-room situations and needless dog-sitting details makes the reader itch to get on with the story, but sadly must remain scratching for a long time. However, the drawn-out pacing lends the advantage of really getting inside the character's heads and turn what might have been bland, predictable cameos into real people that we care a great deal about by the end.
The end itself is rather rapid, and the resolution coming a little too easily after such a long buildup. It's a bit like a roller coaster ride, slow to the top and stealing your breath to the bottom--but who doesn't love the thrill of a roller coaster? Whether you prefer amusement park or open road, Always Was offers an interesting ride.