TeriLyn's thoughts: ***Before We Were Strangers generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
My first Renee Carlino novel most definitely slayed me. Reading this great love story gave me reason to immediately one-click this author's previous love stories. Needless to say, this won't be the last time I fall entranced in the words of Renee Carlino.
Before We Were Strangers gives the reader a little bit of everything and gives in such a way I felt part of the New York City landscape in which this love story was set. It's a contemporary romance with New Adult woven into the middle of the story. Carlino structured the story in such a magnificent way that we meet Matt first as the book opens fifteen years after the year he met Grace at a time in his life he's holding to something he lost so many years ago. He's a man trying to make sense of his life. Learning of his current life and feeling so powerfully towards his melancholy outlook on where he ended up leaves a permanent mark on our reading hearts setting the stage for this book beautifully.
Jumping back in time, fifteen years in time, to Matt's senior year at NYU when he meets Grace. Two young, budding artists in their own right who click from the very moment they meet in such a natural way the readers know it's right. The wistful way in which Matt & Grace relive the memories of this vulnerable time in their lives perfectly represented the fragility and lasting effects of falling in the love for the first time. Carlino writes this time of their lives with such reverence and honesty as though nothing else is sacred to them. This author's words elevate the connection between these two characters for the reader in such a way we feel the joy of their friendship, the love of their passion, and the heart break of their devastation.
As they meet again in the present the story travels the theme of second chance love. How much can be forgiven? Will the scars of their past heal to seal their future? What went wrong all those years ago and how can we possible fix it now? For a while it's unknown but there was so much poignancy and beauty in that unknown that the story forever cemented itself in my heart.
I loved the characters of Matt and Grace, I love being told the story in parts and from both of their points of view. The secondary characters, friend and foe alike, all added something really special to the development of the book and the relationship between Matt and Grace.
I read Before We Were Strangers on a beautiful summer afternoon in the sun the perfect way to read this story full of angst, heartbreak, first love, second-chance love, regret, friendship, forgiveness - all set in a city where the impossible becomes possible where magic and music surrounds you - in the sun reading I felt alive with that same magic and music thanks to the excellent writing and story telling of Renee Carlino. I'm grateful for the opportunity allowing me to read this book and am so excited to discover more stories from this author.
ABOUT RENEE CARLINO:
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.