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From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

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?


I find myself consistently in awe of Renee Carlino’s craft. Her past works like The Sweetest Thing and Before We Were Strangers put her in my “go to” list. An author with such raw talent for telling movie-worthy romances which all end up being far more than your typical love story. A prolific storyteller with thought provoking messages.

Well, she’s done it again. In her most latest release, Swear On This Life, Ms. Carlino has managed to give her readers something extremely innovative, you’ll be left feeling reinvigorated by the sheer brilliancy of this book.

Told in such a way I’ve never experienced before, Renee Carlino took me back into her protagonists pasts through the words on the pages of another book, Through the Roads Between. Yes, that’s right… A book within a book. I was entirely fascinated with Renee’s ability to switch between the past and the present; she practically had to be two different authors at the same time. In my opinion, she couldn’t have pulled it off any better than she did. The past and the present took on a life of their own, both written and sounding so differently yet mutually connected in such a way that you can’t help but be completely submerged in the characters’ worlds. I felt like I was living through the emotions of Jackson and Emerson in Through the Roads Between and at the same time seeing through the eyes of Emiline and Jase. It all just worked.

Renee Carlino made me ache both in pain and pleasure in every single page of Swear On This Life. I cried (many tears) for the hurt and the helplessness that Emiline and Jase had to go through during their childhood. I felt the power behind their love for one another at such an early age. Unfiltered and unconditional, they continued to fight for each other’s happiness, always putting the other before themselves. And as the years pass them by, I felt sorry for the innocence they had to leave behind in order to live in the real world. Emiline’s inability to fully open up to the people around her was stifling and I yearned for her to be able to genuinely let go of the past so that she could finally live the life that Jase had always envisioned for her. I ached for them both to fully embrace the beauty of freedom that came from their sacrifices for one another. The hope of a happily ever after for the protagonists ran deeply. A strong undercurrent that wouldn’t ebb until the very last page. I absolutely loved that Renee was able to make me feel this way– hostility for a fairytale ending; a hopeless romantic’s dream come true. I tried to drag out this book as long as I possibly could. I felt strangely like Emiline did, saving the last chapter until I was ready to let go and accept that it had to end.

Swear On This Life stands uniquely on its own. Written with such finesse and skill, Renee Carlino has once again upped her game. A love story worth re-reading time and time again. This book has my #bookshelfworthy stamp of approval.

We Like It Big Tunes:

Lost Stars- Adam Levine


About the Author:

513GqzYmqYL._UX250_Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. 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 her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at



One thought on “BOOK REVIEW: SWEAR ON THIS LIFE by Renee Carlino

  1. Pingback: Melanie’s Best of 2016 Picks | welikeitbigbookblog

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