Review – Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino



When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

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four star

Since reading Sweet Thing over three years ago, I have fallen in complete book love with Renee Carlino’s writing and will devour anything she puts to paper. After seeing the synopsis for Swear on this Life, I was instantly intrigued about this possible heartbreaker. Carlino delivers an alluring story of first love, tragic loss, and the power of second chances.

If you can surrender to the idea that there might be a plan, instead of reducing every magical moment to a coincidence, then love will find you.

I am a fan of second chance romance but generally prefer for the focus of the story to take place in present time. This is hands down my favorite book that features past events or flashbacks. The childhood and first love relationship between Emerson and Jackson are simply breathtaking. I felt every single emotion and would find myself sad when the moment switched back to present day. This has never happened to me as a reader, and it speaks to how powerful the love between these two was. I have not felt emotion from Renee’s work like that since reading Sweet Thing.

Our innocence was beautiful, impossible to capture again, impossible to recreate.

As enchanting as the story is, it is not without flaws. I wish there had been more present day interactions between Jase and Emiline. I had a difficult time connecting present day Jase with the mesmerizing boy of his past. Despite her background, I found Emiline’s reasonings and behaviors to be infuriating at times, especially those involving her present day boyfriend. Despite my minor irritations, I was enamored from the first chapters until the final page and know most romance fans will too. At its heart, the book is a stunning tale of love and redemption.

I cannot wait for whatever Renee writes next. After six books, she continues to impress me with her gut wrenching and magnificent stories. I highly recommend Swear on this Life to any fan of romance, especially those who enjoy second chance storylines.

A special thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for my advanced copy.

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Barnes & Noble



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