Book Review and Bonus Scene: Nowhere But Here by Renee Carlino


Title: Nowhere But Here
Author: Renée Carlino
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 320 pages
Rating: 4 stars

A Chicago reporter in her mid-twenties unexpectedly finds love in Napa Valley when she’s assigned to spend a week with a famously reclusive genius.

Kate Corbin has lost her spark. From the outside, her life seems charmed. She has a handsome, long-term boyfriend and a budding journalism career at a popular Chicago newspaper. But in reality, her relationship is going nowhere, and she’s quickly losing motivation for what she once believed was her dream job. When her boyfriend dumps her unceremoniously, Kate loses all hope of finding love.

With no living family and few friends, Kate confides in her boss. Trusting that the hungry, ace reporter is buried somewhere deep inside, he gives Kate the opportunity to jumpstart her career. The assignment: to interview the famously reclusive R.J. Lawson, a wealthy tech genius who disappeared years ago but recently reemerged as a Napa Valley vintner. The week takes an unexpected turn, however, when Lawson refuses to divulge any information. Desperate for a lead, Kate turns to Jamie, a vineyard hand who shows her the romance of wine country—and stirs her aching heart. But his connection to Lawson is ambiguous, and when Jamie disappears before the end of the week, Kate is left to investigate another story: the truth behind the man who stole her heart.

My Review
I had mixed emotions throughout this book.  There are highs and lows, both for the characters and the storyline.  But in the end, it’s a beautiful love story about two people living life to its fullest.  Taking risks. Not giving up on a chance at happiness.

Kate Corbin was a funny yet often very frustrating heroine.  When the book starts off, Kate is struggling through a pathetic relationship with this douche, Stephen Brooks.  There is absolutely nothing redeeming about him.  So I’m immediate challenging Kate’s choices.  Is she settling because she’s desperately lonely?  Abso-fucking-lutely!  I can so no other reason she would be with him.  Given a hot new assignment, she heads off to beautiful Napa Valley.  This gives her some space and perspective from all of Stephen’s douchiness.

From the minute Kate lands in San Francisco, my thoughts on the story pick up considerably.  I loved her inner monologue, quirkiness, and inability to drive.

To my absolute horror, he used the speaker again. “Yes, ma’am, I am talking to you. Please pull out of the drive-thru.” Holy shit, I’m being pulled over in a Wendy’s drive-thru.
“Excuse me, Wendy’s people? You need to scratch that last order.”

Her arrival at R.J. Lawson vineyard is a bit of a mess, but we are introduced to Jamie (no last name is initially given).  Let the swooning commence!  Seriously, this guy was perfect from the get-go, and only got better with each page.

Let me take a minute to review some of Jamie’s redeeming qualities:
• Attractive
• Hard working
• Sense of humor
• Good with his hands *ahem*
• Smart
• Thoughtful
• Not afraid of karaoke (this is pretty rare in men unless they are plastered)
• Mysterious
• Sexy

I really could go on and on.  You sense his connection to Kate.  That he is being more than a thoughtful host during her visit.  That she means more to him.

Nowhere couple

It’s around the mid-point where I had a problem with the story.  With a turn of events, Kate is left thinking that Jamie’s attentions were all just a ruse to get her to write a favorable article on the vineyard.  And she goes off the deep end.  She has a complete and embarrassing meltdown, even yelling at a dog.  For no reason.  So she thought she got played.  But really now, if she had taken some time to assess everything, rather than think irrationally, hearts might not have gotten broken.

My frustrations only grew as the story unravels.  Literally.  The plot twist, which isn’t really a surprise at all, only makes me judge her more.  How did she not see what is so blatantly clear from the beginning, or at least it was clear to me.

Thankfully, the story takes another turn, and the spark is back. Through most of the book, Kate evaluates her life as a disaster, destined for solitude.  But at her deepest levels of depression, it is clear that she is not alone.  Her co-workers, Jerry and Beth, her neighbor, Dylan, and Just Bob, all offer her support and guidance in figuring out her path.

“Don’t be scared. All of the skeletons and the blood and the guts and the emotions – that’s the stuff that makes you human and alive. When I said you’ve lost your spark, I meant that you were shutting everyone out. That spark is the beauty in you, Kate. But sometimes when it gets too hot, when people get too close, and that spark gets too bright, you stifle it because you’re scared.”

Kate frustrating ways nearly derailed this story for me.  Nearly.  When she finally wakes up and realizes that her life isn’t hopeless, and that she wasn’t played, the beauty returns.  The author skillfully captures Kate’s roller coaster of emotions, and adds a strong mix of secondary characters to pull her out of the lows and guide her back to the highs. And I liked how we didn’t have to wait for the HEA until the last minute. Kate gets light back in her life and it just keeps getting brighter.

Side note: Fans of the Sweet Thing series will be happy to know that Mia and Will have a cute cameo in the story.

*An ARC was received from the publisher for an honest review.

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To read an exclusive bonus short from Nowhere But Here, click the following link: Nowhere but Here bonus scene


About Renée Carlino:

Renee’s first friends were the imaginary kind and even though her characters haven’t gone away, thankfully the delusions have. She admits she’s a wildly hopeless romantic and she blames 80’s movies staring Molly Ringwald for that. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on the next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.

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