New Release Review: Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino

Swear on This LifeSwear on this Life by Renée Carlino
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: August 9th, 2016
ARC provided by Netgalley and Atria Books

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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?

Angie’s Review – 2.5 Stars – C

The blurb for Swear on This Life had me practically rabid to read this book, and I think it’s something that will appeal to a lot of readers. And there’s no denying that this book got off to a really wonderful start. It’s clear from the beginning that Em has issues from her past that she hasn’t been able to work through, and when J. Colby’s book finds its way into her hands, those issues come back full force. Em’s life isn’t bad. It may be lacking a bit of direction and she’s not quite up to par with her fellow students and colleagues, but she’s leading a decent life if you’re on the outside looking in.

Like I said, the first half of this book was sooo good I had a hard time putting it down. The difference between this and other contemporary romance, for me, was that this was so realistic it hit me right in the gut. Plots are often amped up for entertainment value, but I didn’t feel like this was the case here, and it sucked me in. I even reached a point where I wanted to put it down and never pick it up again, because I was so afraid of what was going to happen next. I knew it was going to be bad, and I knew it was going to come close to breaking me. Then…all of a sudden, this book went flat. I mean, totally-lost-my-interest-what-the-hell-happened flat. And it stayed that way until the very end for me. I think it paralleled what happen with Em – I think what I am supposed to think happened was that Jase’s book struck such a chord with Em that she just couldn’t deal with picking it up again, but that just did not feel real to me. I cannot believe that she would let this book just sit on her nightstand (for a long time, now mind you. I mean, she actually moved cities with this book un-finished,) and Em’s characterization went to hell with that. I just can’t believe that would ever happen.

To be fair, there were some things I liked about this book – Jase’s book (at least parts of it; the end of that was flat, too) and his playboy ways in present day captured me from the moment he hit the page. And I really didn’t know where this was going to end up – was this a story of long lost loves finding their way together, or was this a story of a woman finally dealing with her past and working things out with her current love? I didn’t know the answer to that, and I liked that. But in the end Hey people? This is a spoiler--Fair Warning!

The epilogue was also a huge letdown; I didn’t feel like it added anything extra to the story and was a predictable path for their future.

Swear on This Life didn’t pack the emotional punch I was hoping for, and ultimately, the blurb was much better than the book.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Thank you to ATRIA BOOKS and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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