By Renee Carlino
Release Day – August 14, 2018
“From the national bestselling author of Before We Were Strangers, Swear on this Life, and Wish You Were Here comes a powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically-proven chemistry.
Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio… Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.
The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering, And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.
For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.”
Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, Before We Were Strangers, Swear on This Life, and Wish You Were Here. She grew up in Southern California and lives in the San Diego area with her husband and two sons. To learn more, visit ReneeCarlino.
I got an advanced reading copy of this book courtesy of the author and it had no influence whatsoever on my willing and always honest review.
Well this is embarrassing as I don’t know how to rate this. If I would go based on my personal taste I would give a “I did not like” the story. Not because it was poorly written no Renee Carlino did a very good job as usual but I really don’t like angsty books or stories where the main characters obviously love each other but are dead set on being with other people depriving them of what they really want.
Let’s say you are not put out by these same tropes but are an angst junkie then you will adore the book and ask for more. I know this for a fact as one of my very good friends said “talk about angst galore” and gave it four stars. Yes Malene, that’s you.
The book is told in dual POV and goes back and forth between past and present.
We follow this dance between friendship and love all along and get to witness this first “blind kiss” for the sake of an experience followed by Penny’s decision to put Gavin in the “best friend corner”. I adored this blind kiss scene and the first scene when they are fighting in the parking lot.
I also loved Gavin as he was handsome, carefree, made mistakes so he was perfectly imperfect.
As the prologue and the synopsis suggest, fourteen years after their blind kiss an event will happen and they will have to make decisions again: stay friend or go the way down to lovers.
I don’t want to give too much details and I am not allowed to use quotes to illustrate this review at the publisher’s request.
Just know that their “dancing” around each other and denying what they really felt frustrated me. Gavin made a bad decision and was not present when Penny needed him and it led to them going down a path that could have been avoided.
Penny then decided what was best for her future knowing she was not choosing the road to true love. She became a shell of herself, slowly fading from the vibrant girl she’s been. I thought she really made stupid decisions but on the other hand she’s been hurt and distressed at these times so I should be understanding yet I just could not stand it. Sorry but this simply was not my cup of tea.
If you are an angst junkie though this will be your next fix! So please don’t let my review deter you from reading it. Make your own opinion.
About the author
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 www.reneecarlino.com