Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Release Day Launch & Book Review : Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

Before We Were Strangers
by Renee Carlino

Release Date:
August 18th, 2015

Atria Books

Publisher via NetGalley

eARC received in exchange of honest review

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From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City. 

To the Green-eyed Lovebird: 

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House. 

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more. 

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other. 

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding… 

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello. 

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half? 

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My Thoughts:

Before We Were Strangers was a stunningly beautiful story.  I would go so far as to say that it is in my top favorite second chance at romance stories.  I have read all of Renee Carlino's books, and loved them all.  However, this one and Sweet Thing are my top two favorite's.  I don't know how to describe what this story did to me, but I will try my best to do it justice.   My reading experience with Matt and Grace was profound.  It took my breathe away, and resonated in to my very being.   This story pulled on my heart strings, and I experienced every emotion, a deep sense of longing, and the once-in-a-lifetime type of love that these two characters experienced right along with them.

The story begins in the present time.  Matt is in his late thirties, and unhappy with his life.  He is divorced and works with his pregnant ex-wife and her husband (who use to be his friend) at National Geographic.  He is a successful photographer, but you quickly realize that he is not in a good place.  One day, while at the subway with his boss and current friend, he captures a glimpse of Grace in the window of the train.  They both make eye contact, and he races towards the train, but it is too late.  As a reader, you quickly realize that he and Grace have a strong connection and she is someone from his past.  Matt does everything in his power to find Grace, but to no avail.  He finally writes a passage in the missed connections section on Craig's list at the urging of his boss/good friend.

From this point, Matt reflects on the past, (fifteen years ago when he was a senior) when he met Grace.  We get her perspective as well, and learn about the epic love that these two once shared.  There is no other word to describe what these two meant to one another except to say that they were soulmates in the truest and deepest meaning of the word.  The story then takes us in to the present and future with the alternating perspectives of Matt and Grace.  I can't possibly recommend this book enough, except to say, please read it.  You will fall in love with these two characters and their amazing love story.   

I loved Matt and Grace.  They complimented each other perfectly, were very likable and unique characters.  Their story was romantic, bittersweet, heartbreaking at times, extremely passionate, and full of surprises along the way.  Their story was brought to life by their unique voices, and Ms. Carlino's brilliant insight in to human emotions, love, and loss.  I would love to see this story turned in to a movie.  It was powerful and wove a magic spell on me with the way that it transported me in to the very lives of Matt and Grace.   

My Rating:

I give, Before We Were Strangers, by Renee Carlino, 5 Serendipitous, Sweet Passionate Love, Soulmates Forever Filled Stars!


About the Author:

RenĂ©e Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of romantic women's novels. 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.

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  1. I def need to add this one to my ever growing wish list. Great review!

  2. Happy release day. Glad you loved it.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  3. You sold me. I'm a second chance fan and I can see how much this book moved you. Nice review! It is going on my wishlist now.

  4. Love second chance stories! High praise...guess it needs to go on the list.

  5. Love that after 15 years they still are into each other. I like how it wove a magical spell over you.


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