Swear on this Life

Renee Carlino
Swear on this Life
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Atria Books
Release Date
August 2016
Contemporary Romance, New Adult

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?

Book Review by BJ (reviewer)
Aug 09, 2016   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
125 people found the following review helpful
4 "When Fiction and Life Converge" Stars!

Ms. Carlino never ceases to amaze with her creative and inventive plots. Having fallen in love with When We Were Strangers last year, I just knew I had to read Ms. Carlino's latest romance. But have your tissues ready, this story will definitely take you to some hard, heart-wrenching places, so be prepared for an emotionally-laden, angst-filled romance that will leave you guessing as to whether an HEA is truly possible until the very end.

Emiline has always dreamed of writing a bestseller, but for now is settling with teaching until she can write her own break-out novel. So imagine her surprise when her best friend--also an aspiring writer, though she is having a bit more success--brings to her attention the latest book sensation from a brand-new, previously unknown author, J. Colby.

Although Emiline is bitter that someone who hasn't paid their dues is experiencing this kind of success when she has been tolling away, she reluctant undertakes reading the novel. However, the minute her eyes begin to feast on the book's pages, she has the spine tingling feeling of recognition. And after her first chapter, she is convinced that she knows the writer, because the extremely sad and heartbreaking story of two extremely poor children neighbors struggling to survive in different and yet equally sad parenting situations is one she personally lived (though she has never spoken of it). Therefore the writer can only be one person--a boy turned man who taught her how to live and love and then broke her ability to experience love when he left her all those years ago.

But why would Jase do so such a cruel thing? Can there possibly be another side to the story? And even if there is, would it matter now that she has been in an "ideal" relationship with a former star quarterback, even if it is a routine and uncomplicated one from a feelings perspective?

This is an incredible story that really reads like two separate ones. Some of the passages are told in the present day and others are in the past and presented as excerpts of Jase's book. How Ms. Carlino is able to bring this all together is fascinating and her choice for the order of these passages also had the added effect of heightening the suspense.

But for me, what I fell in love with in this story was Jase (both present and past) and Emiline (when she was young). However, I had more difficulty accepting some of Emiline's actions as an adult. I really can't say more without spoiling the unfolding of this story for you, but suffice it to say that without this, this would have been a 5-star read for me.

However, it is not necessary to love every aspect of a character to love a book--instead what is important is that the story be compelling, intriguing and leave you with but no choice to read it to the end. SWEAR ON THIS LIFE is definitely all of these things, and thus if you are a lover of new adult romances, this is one you definitely will not want to miss.
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