Book Review: Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino

Title: Swear on this Life
Author: Renee Carlino @renayz
Reviewer: Grace
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 320 pages
Rating: 5 Stars


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?

Grace Review

A captivating second chance love story that will hook you in and consume your life until the very end.  This second chance story centers on something that can appeal to most romance readers, for a promise made between two childhood friends turned lovers, to come to fruition.

This was one of those books that I 1-clicked without reading the synopsis.
Then I read the synopsis and thought, “I hope this book is as good as the synopsis” because it just sounded so perfect.

. . . in real life we have a hard time recognizing seredipitous moments because we’re not making the story up as we go along.

I started this book on a plane ride, battling through a headache, because I literally couldn’t put the book down.  Had I not had the headache, I definitely would have finished this book in one day.  Yes, this book is one you need to set aside some time for, because you will want to know how it ends, both the book and the book within it.  Confused?

This story centers on the story of two kids who built a friendship and then fell in love.  Circumstances tear them apart and the heroine doesn’t hear from the hero again, until the day she picks up his book.  Which is about their story.


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.

This story was compelling in that the story painted of their childhood was surrounded by so many horrible moments, yet that author creates in such a way that you can see how that time was so special to the two of them.  How strong their bond was, how much they meant to one another.

Saying all that, I could absolutely sympathize with Emiline and her reaction to the book.  Here, someone who had disappeared from her life for so long, reappears exposing and rehashing all of those painful childhood moments.  Her anger was justified.  And it really pissed me of with how blasé Jason, the hero, is when confronted.

There are two things that drove me through the story.

1) I needed to know why the two were pulled apart.  The story alternates from present, as Emiline is reading the book and her reactions, to the past when the story covers her past in her POV, which was odd.  I found that I was desperate for her to keep reading, I wanted more.  And that leads me to my second point.

2) It is almost guaranteed that you will be mad at how slow Emiline reads the story.  Didn’t she want to know where it led?!?!  Everyone mocks her for her slow reading pace.  I get that reading her life story wasn’t easy.  She’s pretty much a basket case throughout.  But I was certain that there was a message at the end, a reason for it all.  Didn’t she want that reason?  ARGH!!!!!!

Looking back know, it’s clear why the author laid out the story like she did, and that’s part of why I love this book so much.  This story about her life was emotional, but at the same time, cathartic.  She got a lot of closure for things that have haunted her, which she’s bottled up for years.  Had she rushed to the end of the story, I don’t think she would have experienced the recovery like she did.

I won’t give away how things end, but I can say that Jason had a clear intention with writing his story.  And that intention connects to a promise.  *cue the tears*

“I came here because I would do anything you asked me to.”

If you couldn’t tell by review, this book absolutely lives up to the kick ass synopsis.  The unique way in which the story was built makes it one that is hard to put down, even with a headache.  This is now my favorite book from the author and on my Top Books of 2016 list.  So it goes without saying, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book.

– Grace

*An ARC was received via NetGalley for an honest review.

Amazon US Kindle – Amazon US Paperback
Amazon UK


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