Tag: Renee Carlino

Guest Review: Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino

Posted May 24, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Blind Kiss by Renee CarlinoReviewer: Tracy
Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino
Narrator: Rebekkah Ross, Sebastian York
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 14, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 319
Length: 7 hours and 44 minutes
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A powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.

Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio... Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection."

So…have you ever read a book and you kept thinking to yourself, “I need to stop reading this!” over and over again?  I have, and it’s definitely not a fun experience.  This book was like that.  It was like a car accident that you just couldn’t look away from – horrible, yet you just had to see what was happening.

In this story we start in present day with Penny who is a 35-year-old woman who was once planning on being a dancer.  She now sits out in front of her old dance studio that turned into a Subway in hopes of talking to the building manager about renting the space when the lease runs out on the Subway.   Her best friend of 14 years, Gavin, comes up and tells her that he’s moving to France with his girlfriend.  Thus begins the flashbacks of how Gavin and Penny met and their tumultuous relationship throughout the years.

Penny and Gavin met when they were each talked into doing a blind kiss for a psychology study.  Their chemistry is off the charts and almost immediately they are practically inseparable.  Penny, however, tells Gavin that she can only be friends with him.  Between her studies and her dancing, she can’t concentrate on a romantic relationship and asks him to wait until graduation.  He agrees, even though he wants Penny for his own.  By the time they graduate, Gavin is dating someone else but longing for Penny, Penny is injured and won’t dance again, and then soon after that she’s pregnant and getting married to someone else.

Fourteen fucking years go by with Gavin and Penny stating they’re just friends but yet acting like a couple in every instance except taking that final step.  No, no kissing or screwing, but they spoon and touch and tell each other just about everything, including that they love each other – just as friends, of course. Please – don’t insult my intelligence.  The story revolves around their lives and the non-stop angst of their relationship and the changes it goes through.

This story was a mess!  I have to hand it to Carlino – she wrote the book in such a way that I felt like I needed to keep reading to find out how the shit show that was Gavin and Penny turned out. That fact actually earned this book an extra star, which is sad, really.

The story was about Penny and Gavin’s lives and families as well so there were a few secondary characters in the book.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to know any of them very well so it was mainly focused on Gavin and Penny.

The story is told in a series of flashbacks and I found that annoying.  I didn’t really like Penny at all and wasn’t a huge fan of Gavin’s either.  I thought he could have grown some balls over the years, but that didn’t happen.  On top of not liking the story, I was hoping that I would at least get a great ending with Gavin and Penny getting together.  Didn’t happen.  They did get together, but the ending was a farce and completely rushed. It actually shouldn’t have surprised me that is was bad, but it did.

Overall I disliked this book, obviously, and don’t recommend it.

Rating: 2 out of 5.


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Review: After the Rain by Renee Carlino

Posted November 11, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: After the Rain by Renee CarlinoReviewer: Holly
After the Rain by Renee Carlino

Publication Date: November 11th 2014
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 304
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From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a deeply emotional contemporary romance about the second chances waiting beyond the shattered dreams of youth.
When eighteen-year-old Avelina Belo meets a charismatic cowboy the summer before her senior year of high school, she doesn’t know that accepting his invitation to dinner will lead to a whirlwind marriage three months later and an exciting new life on a Montana ranch. She also doesn’t know that, in a few short years, fate will send everything crashing down around her.
A thousand miles away and fresh out of medical school, Nate Meyers is poised to become UCLA’s next superstar heart surgeon. His laser focus is the key to his success, but it’s also his greatest liability. When a routine surgery ends in disaster, derailing his career, he’s confronted with the hard truth: there’s no one waiting for him at home, no one to help him pick up the pieces.
Regrouping on his uncle’s Montana ranch, Nate meets Avelina, a beautiful but mysterious young woman who keeps to herself and barely speaks a word. As he discovers the details of her devastating past, Avelina teaches him more about matters of the heart than he ever knew before. But can they trust each other enough to put everything on the line?

I was in the mood for something a little more dark and filled with angst, so I picked up After the Rain. I knew from previous experience Carlino’s books are full of depth and emotion. I wasn’t disappointed.

Both protagonists have suffered grave losses, though the heroine’s were arguably the worst of the two. After her father passed away, Avelina dropped out of high school and married Jake, a cowboy she met at a rodeo. Together they moved to Montana to work on a ranch as wranglers. They had a little less than two years of wedded bliss before Jake was injured in a riding accident and fell into a state of deep depression. When he dies, she’s filled with guilt and anger, and withdraws from everyone.

Five years later she’s startled out of her dark well of grief by Nate. He’s a heart surgeon from L.A., who needed to get away after losing his first patient. He’s intrigued by Ava and the way she’s treated by the others on the ranch. The more she opens up to him, the more he wants to know. But he’s dealing with his own emotional crisis, and he isn’t the best at opening himself to others at the best of times.

Ava is deeply damaged. Nate remarks several times that she needs to see someone professionally to help her deal with her anger and grief, and I agree with him. What she suffered – and the age she suffered it – wasn’t something she could easily move past on her own. Especially after five years of bottling her feelings. It was good to see her open herself up to life again, but I had doubts about how healed she really was.

Nate, too, had some growing to do. He was often selfish in his thoughts and actions, especially as it pertained to his career. He seemed to use his status as a surgeon as a shield to keep people at bay. Essentially,”This is important work, I must focus on it and can’t give of myself to you.”. His father was also a world-renowned heart surgeon, but he managed to balance work and his personal life in a way Nate never learned.

It was good that both Nate and Ava had lessons to learn and grief to deal with, but I have to admit both read as very young characters to me. Ava’s emotional growth was stunted at twenty when her husband died, so I understood her lack of maturity better than I did Nate’s. He was focused solely on first his studies then his career, which precluded him from exploring a romantic relationship. I get that. I even understood his lack of real friendships. I did not understand how a heart surgeon of thirty could act so immature. The time he spent at the ranch with Ava showed him acting more like a teenager or newly begun college student than a man of thirty.

I probably wouldn’t have been able to overlook the flaws in her characters if she hadn’t worked to correct the problem at the end. The resolution was very satisfying, however.

The beauty of Carlino’s writing and the emotional depth of the story really drew me in. She has a real talent for tugging at my heartstrings.

3.75 out of 5



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Review: Sweet Thing by Renee Carlino

Posted January 23, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sweet Thing by Renee CarlinoReviewer: Holly
Sweet Thing by Renee Carlino
Series: Sweet Thing #1

Publication Date: August 20th 2013
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 320
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Series Rating: three-stars

A USA TODAY bestselling contemporary romance about the complexities of love and self-discovery in the early post-college years.
Mia Kelly thinks she has it all figured out. She’s an Ivy League graduate, a classically trained pianist, and the beloved daughter of a sensible mother and offbeat father. Yet Mia has been stalling since graduation, torn between putting her business degree to use and exploring music, her true love.
When her father unexpectedly dies, she decides to pick up the threads of his life while she figures out her own. Uprooting herself from Ann Arbor to New York City, Mia takes over her father’s café, a treasured neighbor­hood institution that plays host to undiscovered musicians and artists. She’s denied herself the thrilling and unpredictable life of a musician, but a chance encounter with Will, a sweet, gorgeous, and charming guitar­ist, offers her a glimpse of what could be. When Will becomes her friend and then her roommate, she does everything in her power to suppress her passions—for him, for music—but her father’s legacy slowly opens her heart to the possibility of something more.

When Mia’s father unexpectedly passes away and leaves her the sole beneficiary of his estate, she decides to go to New York City to run the coffee shop he adored and live in his apartment. She didn’t see him a lot growing up, but she cared for him and he her. She needs some time to figure out what she wants to do with her life and to come to terms with his death.

On the flight to New York she meets Will Ryan. Will is a musician and they hit it off right away. They talk the entire flight. About music, life and a million other things. Mia mentions her father’s coffee shop to Will and he turns up a few weeks later. Without thinking, Mia asks him to be her roommate.

Though she’s attracted to him, Will is far from ideal man. He isn’t successful or driven. Though she loves music and plays many instruments, she craves stability and wants someone who can provide it.  So she pushes Will away, and instead starts dating a young professional she convinces herself is everything she’s ever wanted in a man.

I’m not sure why Mia had such a skewed perspective on relationships. Her mother and father weren’t together long, but they maintained a good relationship. She was close with her step-father and impressed by her mother’s relationship with him. Her behavior was often destructive and came across as immature and exasperating.

Though the story is told in first person from Mia’s point-of-view, it’s obvious Will wants a relationship with Mia. He’s open and affectionate with her. He’s the type of man many women would love to have. He was considerate of her feelings, shared many things in common with her and wanted nothing more than her happiness. His only flaw, according to Mia, was that he wasn’t wealthy or driven enough to become so.

While I enjoyed the growth of the heroine, I admit she drove me batty for most of the book. I understand this book was about her changing and growing, and she did.  She begins the novel as a shallow, vain, confused, silly girl. She ends it in a better place. I was glad to see the change in her, but it was extremely painful to watch the process.

If you’re looking for an angsty read, this is the book for you.

2.75 out of 5

This book is available from Atria Books. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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