Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Diary Entry #0042: Book Review—Renée Carlino and I Were Strangers Until I Read This Awesome Book

Title: Before We Were Strangers
by Renée Carlino
Date of Publication: August 18th 2015
Genre: Adult | Contemporary Romance

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.

“You can’t re-create the first time you promise to love someone or the first time you feel loved by another. You cannot relive the sensation of fear, admiration, self-consciousness, passion, and desire all mixed into one because it never happens twice.”

This is the first time I’ve read a book by Renée Carlino and—gosh darn, I love it!

I had low expectations for this book despite the rave reviews I kept on reading about. What can I say? I haven’t read any of her books before so I was skeptical whether I’m gonna like her writing style or not. Add that to the fact that the characters’ age were twice as mine, I was afraid that I’m gonna feel disconnected. Which is kind of an oxymoron since “feeling” and “disconnection” are opposite things.

My brain is so funny.

Anyway, as I said, I loved this book. I haven’t read many second chance romance type of books but this one was really good. I’ve been feeling kind of skeptic about love (in books, okay?) lately, which is sooo not normal because I’m such a hopeless romantic living vicariously through these literary characters. But Before We Were Strangers managed to make me feel hopeful about love again. I mean, despite the fifteen years of separation these two managed to find their way back into each other’s lives. If that doesn’t make you believe in love, I don’t know what would. Except meeting me, of course he he he bye gosh I’m so embarrassing and unprofessional.

Renée Carlino wrote the story of Grace and Matt, two people who have so much passion inside of them. At first I wasn’t really feeling it because, yeah, Matt was pretty miserable until he finally saw Grace again. But I wanted to give this a chance because I don’t like not finishing a book. So I read on and then, finally! What I’ve been waiting for was their story in college where they spent a year falling in love.

I loved, loved this part out of everything that happened in this book. I loved how they were genuinely just friends first. I loved the antics they did. I loved how they obviously cared for each other. I loved how their feelings developed over time. As you all know, I absolutely loathe insta-love in books so I was pretty happy with this one. I loved how realistic their situation was—living in New York, in college without money and having dysfunctional family members.

What I didn’t like though, and the reason why I didn’t give this a 5-star rating, was the back and forth decisions that these two lovers did. Before they got separated in college—which inevitable led to their 15-year separation—their relationship was on the rocks because they can’t decide whether they really want to be together despite certain circumstances or not. It happened again when they reunited after 15 years and I was like, uhm wth? This is your second chance, don’t screw it up by acting like you’re still immature college kids!!! Helloooo? I really don’t like it when two characters go back and forth with their decisions when it’s obvious what choice they have to make.

But other than that, I really can’t say any bad thing about this book. I really loved this and I wish I could forget the story so that I could read it again and fall in love with it over and over.

Let me know what you thought about this book!

About the Author:

Renée 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.



  1. Hahaha, I think it says a lot about the books being churned out by publishers this days when we become skeptical about romance books XD But I'm glad to know that this one delivered! I have a hard time connecting to characters who are twice as old as me, so I'm glad to know that despite the age differences, this one resonated so much with you. I agree that having two characters be friends first is a much more fulfilling romance :D :D Will be wary of the back and forth, though. I hate the flip-floppiness as much as the next person too!

    Faye at The Social Potato

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Faye! I hope that when you read this, it'll be as good an experience as mine :)