Aug 4 2016 8:30am

First Look: Renée Carlino’s Swear on This Life (August 9, 2016)

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

Renée Carlino
Swear on This Life 
Atria Books / August 9, 2016 / $15.00 print, $7.99 digital

Holy schNikes, this book…The Book Goddesses have been smiling down on me because of late, each book I've reviewed has been exquisite…like eating the best Belgian chocolate money can buy. But I digress. Let’s focus on Renée Carlino and her storytelling brilliance. Swear on This Life is a tale within a tale, where we learn the fate of our heroine (Emiline) as her childhood comes to life on the pages of a bestselling novel—written by her former best friend and lover from twelve years ago—J. Colby. Hence, the story unravels for us at the same time it does for Emi. Only when Emi finishes reading this novel, do we get our HEA. For Emi it took her too long—for me it was over too fast.

Emi has a rough history. She’s forced into the foster care system as a teenager before she moves in with her Aunt. But prior to foster care, she lives in chaos with her father, walking on eggshells, and never knowing which father will present himself. The abusive one? The apathetic one? Or the caring but barely getting by one? The only person she can rely on is her neighbor Jason (Jase). Their friendship grows into a love that is over the moment it starts.

I started tearing up. “I don’t want to cry any more today.”

He tilted my chin up so we were eye to eye, and then he ran his index finger down my jawline. He studied my face, looking from my eyes to my mouth. There was reverence in his expression.

“What?” I sad, and then his lips were on mine. He kissed me slowly, sweetly. He gently braced my neck with both hands and deepened the kiss. I anchored my hands on the outsidees of his biceps. He felt bigger to me. He felt safe, warm, familiar. When he broke away, he opened his eyes and smiled for a moment. I smiled back, and then he kissed me again. I moved my hands to his ribs and pulled him closer. He trailed kisses up my jawline and to my ear. My breath was quickening. Near my ear, in a low voice, he said. “I have wanted to do that for so long.”

“Was it okay?” I said nervously.

“Shhh, it was perfect.”

And it is perfect. Just like I feel about this story. But it takes Emi time. Time to make a decision about her current boyfriend. Time to decide if she will be able to forgive Jase for immortalizing her life in the pages of fiction.  Time for our hero and heroine to reconnect. And time for her to finish reading her novel.

“Jase!” I shouted.

Our faces were inches apart. He smelled like mint and men’s body wash.

“Why didn’t you stay the other night? Why’d you make me drive all the way to New Clayton to see you?” he asked.

“You were wasted, I have a boyfriend, and I had my own hotel room in Nashville that night. Plus, I didn’t make you come here.” I rolled my eyes at him and he pinched my butt. “Ouch!”

“Answer me. Why didn’t you stay? We’re just friends, remember?” My heart was speeding up. “Don’t tell me it’s just because of Taylor.”



Swear on This Life shifts from present day to the chapters in the novel, as we read Jase’s words. I love the juxtaposition of the story within a story and I’m addicted to Emi and Jase’s ill-fated love. If only she would finish the book! Just like Emi needs to read to the end, so will you. And, as one fan of J. Colby put it, her favorite point in the book is the ending. Words I couldn't agree with more, because the ending is well worth the wait. 


Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino, available August 9, 2016:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes




Tanya is a fanatic of all things romance, dabbles in Happily Ever Afters under the pen name of Lily Kay, and teaches sociology part-time. You can follow her on twitter @tamushamu, @AuthorLilyKay, or on


Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Jen Wattley
2. JenWattley
I'm reading this now, and so far it is excellent. I'm so happy to see this story unfold.
3. Kareni
This sound intriguing. And, better yet, my library already has it on order.
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