Title: Swear on this life
Author: Renee Carlino
Genre: NA contemporary romance
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?
Okay, I legit did NOT know that this book came out only on the 9th of August. I just kept seeing it around a lot and finally got it on 14th and began reading it.
I have a like-dislike relationship with this author’s books. I read Before We Were Strangers and really liked it (so much that I read it three times in a row) (read my very amateur-ish review here) and recently, I also read Sweet Thing, which I hated. (Here is my very ranty review). But the premise of this book seemed to have a lot of potential, so I went ahead and read it. And oh mah gawd, am I glad I did.
- Emiline is an adjunct college professor, stuck with her writing and love life. Her roommate raves about a book called All the roads between by a debut author and Em finally picks it up.
From the moment I read the second line in the first paragraph, my heart rate tripled. Instantly, I was sweating. By the end of the first page, I was almost hysterical.
- The story written by J. Colby was her story. Written from her point of view, written with exactly all the emotions she had then. It was basically her memoir. Except of slight name changes, everything was the same. She was sure that her childhood best friend and first love Jase was the author.
- Only, they hadn’t spoken for over a decade and she’s furious that he’s making money off HER story.
We read on as she reads the book over a long period of time, following how it impacts her life and the choices she makes after finally accepting her past as she reads the book.
Also, at one point we are reading through Em who is reading through another Em who herself is reading about an Em. The depth goes three times in. The way it all came together was just amazing.
- I really liked Emiline’s character. she felt so real and her choices were understandable. I found it very easy to relate to her and fuse with her during the story. Her character development to acceptance and finally moving on was admirable.
- Honestly, Jase felt a little unreal. Okay, quite unreal. He never had the reactions that I would expect and I couldn’t figure out how he’s a normal human with issues and problems. He was too perfect. Never any issues, always supportive, patient. I mean, there was never a selfish action or decision, no rants or demands or declarations of love. He just.. didn’t feel real.
- The side characters were pretty perfect. From ugly, sad and pathetic ones to the perfect, loving, supporting.
- The childhood stories, difficulties and heartbreak was on point.
- To the present, I’m glad that when they met again there was no clash of love. They took their time, Em has enough sense, brain and thought to go slow. She also recovered first, made herself whole before giving in to loving Jase.
- The epilogue threw me off a bit. It was kinda required as an ending but the narration was a bit off, I don’t know why or how. I just felt off then. Especially the way it portrayed Jase—like he was an all-wise all-knowing person.
I really liked this book. It didn’t quite come up to how much I love Before We Were Strangers, but it was good. Recommended if you like best-friends-turn-lovers, lost-love, meet-years-later and characters with sad pasts.