Book 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?

SWEAR ON THIS LIFE by Renee Carlino was my first pick for #2018FWTBRPick for the month of December – this is my way of trying to take care of my uncontrollable TBR this year and you can read about it all HERE. 

Okay.. I have a feeling that this one will not be in the majority; but I promise I tried my best to actually like a book, a romance, that has received such amazing reviews from some of my favorite bloggers & reviewers. 

Swear On This Life, on the face of it; has an amazing premise, for an angst – y second chance romance – and I was honestly looking forward to a story that would end up bawling my eyes out.  

But what I got was a lackluster execution of a romance that had the possibility of searing itself into my soul.  

This book is a second – chance romance between Jax and Em; who were childhood best friends, later turned lovers in their teenage years; when a tragic situation that made sure they were separated for a span of 12 years. 

At 27 years of age, Em is barely surviving in her life, emotionally – she is an unimaginative writer in a relationship that she knows is absolutely not working, with a man she also knows she doesn’t love.  

Imagine her surprise, when her roommate, a fellow writer, gushing about a new bestseller “All The Roads Between” – forces her to read the same. It doesn’t take long for her to realize that it is a semi – memoir of her and Jax’s childhood.  

Here’s the thing.. The author, Ms. Carlino voyages smoothly between the book and the present time – this is essentially a book within a book, and somehow the author makes it work effortlessly. 

But if I had to use one word to describe the book as a whole and my experience reading it, then it would be.. FLAT. 

  • Em and Jax’s teenage romance? FLAT! 
  • Em as an adult? FLAT, but also cringe – worthy, irritating and exasperating. 
  • Em and ax’s meeting as adults? FLAT; yet somehow even more disappointing the book itself. 

There is no character development, immaturity of the protagonists and the flat emotional affect of the plot – every single thing altogether made sure that I ended up going through the motions of completing the book.  

While I do believe the author has immense talent to tell a story; it’s the story that didn’t cooperate with the author this time, in my opinion.  

⭐ ⭐


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