Review: Swear on This Life – Renee Carlino

Posted 31 August, 2016 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 24 Comments

Review: Swear on This Life – Renee CarlinoSwear on This Life by Renée Carlino
Published by Atria Books on 9 August 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle
Source: Kindle Purchase
5 Stars

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?

2nd Chance - (un) Conventional Bookviews Adult - (un)Conventional Bookviews Contemporary - (un)Conventional Bookviews

Swear on This Life is one of those books, you know the ones… Emotional, strong, realistic, but kind of not. Very meta, with characters that draw you in and won’t let go. Beautifully written and well executed, too!

Review - (un)Conventional Bookviews

Swear on This Life is the story of a woman who reads a book about a woman reading a book about a woman… That’s just a tiny part of what happens here, though, but I loved the way it was meta of meta in more than one way. The premise is very original, and I found it to be a fantastic way to do a second chance at love romance. There is a lot of heart-ache, and Emiline has a lot of anger to deal with. Both because of her buried past, and because of that stupid book! The one written by her childhood sweetheart, which features her fractured past – the one she has been thinking about fictionalizing herself.

Emiline was a flawed character just the way I like them. In many ways she was strong, and in others, she really needed people she could trust and lean on around her. Swear on This Life goes back and forth between the past and the present, both in Emiline’s real world and in the book she’s reading… but doesn’t want to finish. I loved how reading bout her own past – even if it was fiction – made Emiline finally talk about it to other people. And in a way, that was what she really needed in order to leave it where it belonged, too. As it was, her past had influenced her present in rather disastrous ways, because she hadn’t been able to make her peace with it.

I have to admit that Carlino has a way of getting all my emotions going haywire! I absolutely loved reading about Emiline’s and Jase’s childhood. The bittersweet feeling of something great that is lost. How they could always count on each other when life at home was too difficult to deal with. And how their friendship grew into love that was stronger than the horrible things they had to live with. Until one fatal day. That changed everything.

Written in first person point of view, past tense, the story unfolds partly in the present, and also through the book Jase has written. There are some great dialogues, and all the characters are well fleshed out. I still get a little emotional when thinking about Swear on This Life, even if it’s been a while since I finished reading it. Contemporary romance fans who enjoy stories where a couple get a second chance will love this one! So go pick it up, like, now!

Fave Quotes - (un)Conventional Bookviews

As I walked, I though about where my mother had gone. She was dead to my father but to me she was still alive somewhere living a better life. I didn’t hate her. i didn’t understand her, but I didn’t hat her. I just wished she would’ve taken me with her. 

I laughed bitterly, and my smile faded quickly. “How could she just leave her daughter, though?” “It’s hard to understand because you’re not like her, thank god. You never were.” Hearing those words felt like a hug from God. When your own mother, the woman who conceived you and gave birth to you, is heartless enough to abandon you on a dirt road in some rural town in Ohio with a mean alcoholic, you’re always a little concerned that those awful genes will come to life within you at some point.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,927 other subscribers

24 responses to “Review: Swear on This Life – Renee Carlino

  1. I feel like I’m seeing the cover of this book everywhere lately, but it never intrugued me enough to go on it’s GR page and see what is actually about.
    However, your review is the first one I read for this book and you made it sound like the story in it is better then the cover looks, so I aim to go and see more reviews on GR now. Thanks! 😀
    P.S. As you can clearly see from my comment, I do judge books by covers and I can’t help it. :/

    irena_bookdustmagic recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday (#14): Glitter by Aprilynne Pike
  2. Renee Carlino is an author I’ve been meaning to read, Lexxie. And THIS book sounds absolutely incredible! The was in which it’s told seems very unique and the emotions it obviously evoked in you leave me with no doubt I’ll enjoy it. I’m fascinated by the story being partially told through a fictionalized account of Emiline’s life! I also want to know what the fateful moment was… Your review has me struggling to control my one-click finger, wifey. 😉
    Happy Wednesday! **BIG HUGS**

    • I get goose-bumps just thinking about this one, Brandee… but then again, the other Carlino book I’ve read was the same – I just fell so utterly and completely in love with the characters and their story. Plus – 2nd chance at love!
      *BIG HUGS*

  3. Berls

    You know, I think I would have passed on this one if it weren’t for your review. While it’s cool, the whole reading a book and about a woman reading a book kinda made me go, nah, too head spinning! Lol! I don’t want to work to hard while I read these days 😉 but you’ve convinced me that the emotions and the way the author employed the reading the book is well done. So I’ll put it on my list!

    Hope all is well 🙂 Hugs!

    • You wouldn’t have to think too hard, though, Berls, because it’s really very clear when she’s reading the book, and when she’s in the present time, living her life 🙂
      I’m so happy to see you even though school has started again 🙂 I miss you!!

    • I think if you enjoy second chance romances, and you’ve enjoyed other Carlino books, you’ll enjoy this one too, Stephanie! I love Carlino’s writing, the depth of her characters, and the way she manages to pace the story just right 🙂

  4. I really need to read this book because everyone and their Mom is loving it. I need to check it out for myself. Thanks for the lovely review, it’s made me even more excited to get it.

  5. Whoa! A 5* read! I think this read would be excellent as an audiobook, but I have a feeling that I’ll probably end up taking notes to compare how the heroine was portrayed in the book and how she currently stands in the present stage of the book actual book (see I’m getting confused a little lol). Great review.

  6. *fist pump* Oh yeah!! This author is the bomb in my book!! I’m soooo tickled you loved this story!!! Wasn’t Jase the hottest and sweetest the entire time?!?! Perfect in my opinion. And Emiline totally deserved him. Eh gads, I’m swooning again 🙂 Thanks for reminding me what an awesome story this was and putting another smile on my face… great review!!

Thanks for commenting - chat soon!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.