Category Archives: New Adult

Review: Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino

Title: Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?


Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino is a novel within a novel that alternates between past and present. Emiline (Emi) and Jason “Jase” Colbertson helped one another survive their dysfunctional childhoods only to lose touch after Emi moves out of state. Reunited as adults, they still remain separated by Emi’s anger and unresolved issues but will the ending of a bestselling novel bring them together?

Despite her loving relationship with her aunt and her partner and some much needed therapy, Emi is still struggling with the baggage from her abusive childhood.  Her long term relationship with Trevor does not seem to moving forward and her career is somewhat stalled as well.  Emi is rather closed off and she refuses to discuss her past with anyone, including Trevor.  When her roommate convinces her to read the bestselling debut novel by the mysterious “J. Colby”, Emi is stunned then angered to discover the book is based on her childhood so she immediately knows her old friend Jase is the author.  While the story is mostly factual, Emi is incensed that he wrote the book from her perspective. Even worse, Jase changed some very important details of a pivotal event from their childhood.  Tracking down him is surprisingly simple, but will Emi’s confrontation with Jase finally give her the opportunity to heal the wounds from her past?

Emi is so prickly and combative that she is very difficult to like.  She runs from problems instead of facing them and she is fairly hot tempered.  She is not very honest about her past so a lot of her troubles are of her own making.  Emi’s childhood was truly horrific but since she has not properly dealt with it, those long ago events continue to define her and control her actions although she is now in her late twenties.

First impressions of Jase as an adult are not exactly favorable.  He comes across as cocky and arrogant rather than self-assured and empathetic.  This grown up version of Jase is rather disappointing since he was so caring, kind and compassionate while he and Emi were growing up.  His obnoxious behavior at their first meeting as adults certainly does not help his image.  Jase had ample opportunity to reach out to Emi over the years so it is a little perplexing why he chose to write a book about their experiences instead meeting her in person.

The storytelling in Swear on this Life is rather unique since Emi and Jase’s childhood is revealed through the chapters of Jase’s book.  While this insight is invaluable, too much of the novel concentrates on the events of the past.  Emi and Jase’s interactions as adults are quite limited and somewhat acrimonious.  Jase’s novel serves as a catalyst for Emi to work through the residual issues from her childhood which does help her resolve her present day problems with Trevor and her career.  She is also slow to finish reading Jase’s novel which makes it difficult to believe Emi’s abrupt attitude change toward Jase and ultimately, the final resolution to their storyline.

The concept for Swear on this Life is interesting but overall, the execution is little dissatisfying.  While their childhood experiences are certainly heartbreaking, Emi and Jase are little immature and not very easy to like.  Although Emi’s roommate and aunts are much more appealing, Trevor is a bit of a stereotype and he does not treat Emi very well.  Renee Carlino does not hesitate to tackle difficult subject matter in her novels and although this latest release is a bit of a disappointment, it is a fast-paced read with a satisfying ending.

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Filed under Atria Books, Contemporary, New Adult, Rated C+, Renee Carlino, Review, Romance, Swear on this Life

Review: You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross & Mark Perini

Title: You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross & Mark Perini
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult/New Adult, Romance
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Everything she wants. Everything he needs.

The supportive friend, the reliable daughter, the doting big-sister: Finley is used to being the glue that holds everyone together. But while her sweet demeanor makes her the perfect confidant, her wholesome look isn’t landing her the high paying modeling jobs, which are what Finley needs if she is going to reopen her mother’s dance studio.

Enter Eddie. He’s intense and driven, not to mention the life of every party, and he completely charms Finley. The last thing she wants is another commitment to stand in the way of her dreams, but when she’s with Eddie, their chemistry takes over and she can let go of her responsibilities and just be. After all, what’s so wrong about putting herself first once and a while?

Except Eddie is hiding a secret. A big secret. And when it surfaces, he and Finley are going to have to choose between their love for each other and everything else…


You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross & Mark Perini is an absolutely delightful young adult/new adult romance that has a substantive plot, a sweet love story and charming characters.

Eddie Wells stumbles onto a modeling career just as he is trying to make some much needed improvements to his life.  He never takes himself or his photo gigs too seriously and this blasé attitude makes him an instant sensation so he scores some pretty impressive modeling jobs.  There is much more to Eddie than meets the eye and it is impossible not to like him as he tries to leave behind his troubled past while at the same time attempting to make a serious decision that will forever change his life.  He is a likable, sympathetic character that is impossible not to root for as he stands up to his wealthy family and refuses to acquiesce to his father’s self-serving demands.

Finley Belton is frustrated by her inability to get more modeling jobs because she is viewed as sweet rather than edgy.  Like Eddie, modeling is just a stepping stone to help her achieve her goal of  making enough money to re-open her family’s ballet studio.  Devoted to her father and two younger brothers, Finley is a kind-hearted, compassionate young woman who unexpectedly finds herself revisiting an old dream when she begins dancing again.  Torn between her desire to stay close to home, she is unexpectedly conflicted about which dream she should pursue.  Adding to Finley’s confusion is her unexpected romance with Eddie.

Eddie and Finley’s relationship begins as an out of character one night stand.  Trying to change her image and shake up her boring routine, Finley meets Eddie at party and eventually invites him to her place.  Neither of them typically indulge in hookups so the morning after is quite awkward for both Finley and Eddie.  As their paths continue to cross, their discomfort slowly evolves into a reluctant friendship that gradually becomes a summer romance.  While Finley is aware of some of Eddie’s secrets, she has no idea what precipitated his split from his family.  Just as their romance deepens into a real relationship, Eddie’s past collides with his present and he finally reveals the troubling truth about himself and his family.  Their lighthearted, fun romance now takes a serious turn as both Finley and Eddie try to make important decisions about their future both as a couple and as individuals.

Written in alternating points of view, You Before Anyone Else by Julie Cross & Mark Perini is an engaging novel that beautifully blends romance with true to life, relatable subject matter.  The characters are wonderfully developed and although flawed, they are  sympathetic and easy to like.  The dialogue is snappy with plenty of laugh out loud humor.  The plot is unique and compelling with elements that are common to  both young adult and new adult genres.  An all around fantastic read that I highly recommend to readers of all ages.

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Filed under Contemporary, Julie Cross, Mark Perini, New Adult, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sourcebooks Fire, You Before Everyone Else

Review: Signs of Attraction by Laura Brown

Title: Signs of Attraction by Laura Brown
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Do you know what hearing loss sounds like? I do.

All my life I’ve tried to be like you. I’ve failed.

So I keep it hidden.

But on the day my world crashed down around me, Reed was there.

He showed me just how loud and vibrant silence can be, even when I struggled to understand.

He’s unlike anyone I’ve ever known. His soulful eyes and strong hands pulled me in before I knew what was happening.

And as I saw those hands sign, felt them sparking on me, I knew: imperfect could be perfect.

Reed makes me feel things I’ve never felt. It’s exciting . . . and terrifying.

Because he sees me like no one else has, and I’m afraid of what he’ll find if he looks too closely.

The only thing that scares me more than being with him? Letting him go.

An Avon Romance


Laura Brown’s debut novel, Signs of Attraction, is a new adult romance that provides an in-depth look into the world of a person who is Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing.

College student Carli Reynolds has been Hard of Hearing for as long as she can remember but she has still manages to make it through life with no help other than hearing aids.  However, in one of her current classes, she is unable to understand a word her professor is saying.  Assistance comes from an unexpected source when her Deaf classmate, Reed encourages her to look into the options available for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. After a lifetime of feeling ashamed of her hearing loss, Carli is  surprised by how easily she fits into Reed’s world after they begin dating.  Just as Carli is beginning to move past her insecurities, a visit with her family threatens to destroy everything she has been working for.

Carli does not let her doubts and uncertainties affect her dream of becoming a teacher.  She does not let physical pain, her hearing loss or her unconventional way of studying stand in the way of accomplishing her goals.  She tries not to dwell on her dysfunctional family but Carli still feels judged for her hearing loss. Although at first skeptical of Reed’s suggestions, she is pleasantly surprised by the difference these changes  make in her day to day life. Carli is thrilled by the his friends’ acceptance and for the first time in her life, she feels like she belongs. While she does not believe in love, Carlo finds it impossible to say no when Reed asks her to go out with him.

Reed is fighting his own demons when he meets Carli and although his friends are concerned for him, he cannot resist offering her advice.  He is a genuinely kind and caring young man and he wants to do everything he can to help her reach her full potential.  Although Reed was betrayed by his last girlfriend, he does hesitate to risk his heart again. He is incredibly sweet and patient with Carli but he is eventually forced to walk away from their relationship when she begins coping with her problems in a very unhealthy manner.

The first half of Signs of Attraction is rather light-hearted and easygoing.  Reed and Carli are a good fit for one another and their relationship easily flourishes despite their busy schedules. Both Carli and Reed are somewhat reluctant to discuss certain things from their pasts, but this does not seem to affect their blossoming romance too much.  However, after the horrifying events of Carli’s visit with her family, these unresolved issues quickly derail their relationship. Carli is drowning in self-pity and her downward spiral affects every area of her life. Despite Reed’s continued efforts to reassure her she is experiencing a temporary setback, Carli’s self-destructive behavior becomes a major point of contention between them.  At an impasse, Reed has no choice but to end their relationship.  Will this be the wake-up call Carli needs?  Or will she continue to self destruct?

Despite the somewhat angst-ridden second half, Signs of Attraction is an engaging romance that is quite compelling. The storyline is enlightening and educational and Laura Brown provides readers a insightful look into everyday life as a Dear or Hard of Hearing person. A heartfelt and emotional debut that fans of new adult contemporary romances are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Avon Impulse, Contemporary, Laura Brown, New Adult, Rated B, Review, Romance, Signs of Attracion

Review: Invincible Summer by Alice Adams

Title: Invincible Summer by Alice Adams
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Genre: New Adult, Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.

Inseparable throughout college, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien graduate in 1997, into an exhilarating world on the brink of a new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and eager to shrug off the socialist politics of her upbringing, Eva breaks away to work for a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to complete his PhD in physics, devoting his life to chasing particles as elusive as the object of his affection. Siblings Sylvie and Lucien, never much inclined toward mortgages or monogamy, pursue more bohemian existences-she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partyer.

But as their twenties give way to their thirties, the group struggles to navigate their thwarted dreams. Scattered across Europe and no longer convinced they are truly the masters of their fates, the once close-knit friends find themselves filled with longing for their youth- and for one another. Broken hearts and broken careers draw the foursome together again, but in ways they never could have imagined.

A dazzling depiction of the highs and lows of adulthood, Invincible Summer is a story about finding the courage to carry on in the wake of disappointment, and a powerful testament to love and friendship as the constants in an ever-changing world.


Beginning in 1995, Invincible Summer by Alice Adams is an engrossing novel that follows the friendships of four college friends through an array of ups and downs over the course of twenty years.

Despite the very different directions their lives take, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien remain friends after graduation.  Eva, the daughter of a professor with Socialist leanings, casts off her father’s ideology and climbs the corporate ladder as an investment banker. Benedict, whose family is wealthy, continues on with his education as he seeks his PhD in physics. Sylvie, a free-spirited budding artist, appears destined to a great career as a painter while her brother Lucien becomes a successful club promoter. Although their friendship waxes and wanes over the years, the friends maintain contact, (albeit sporadically on occasion), as they weather the various storms that life brings them. However, as they reach different levels of success, jealousy and discontent lead to unpleasant confrontations and hurt feelings.

Instead of continuing on to grad school, Eva abandons her dream of becoming a physicist to work in finance. Working eighty hours a week, she slowly but surely works her way up the ranks but her personal life suffers as she concentrates on her building her career. Eva does find time to date, and a surprising romance leads to a long term relationship but are they destined to live happily ever after?

Benedict is a bit of a science geek but he knows exactly what he wants to do once he completes his PhD.  His life takes a rather unexpected turn when he is close to completing his degree but he still manages to secure his dream job.  Benedict makes a few missteps in his personal life but overall, he is mostly satisfied with what he has achieved although he suffers a few pangs of regret for some of his choices.

Of the four friends, Sylvie’s path in life seemed crystal clear but surprisingly, she never quite achieved the success everyone expected.  Despite her very obvious talent, her career as an artist never quite came together and she works one dead end job after another. Drinking too much and indulging in numerous one night stands, Sylvie is on a fast track for disaster when her friendship with Eva takes an ugly turn. Finally deciding to get her act together, she spends a restful summer away from London, but will this hard-won tranquility last once she returns to her regular life?

Lucien’s charm and devil may care attitude translate into a successful career as a club promoter but how long can he sustain this hard drinking, partying lifestyle?  Never taking anything or anyone too seriously, he is charismatic and well-liked but he never lets anyone get too close to him. When his world falls apart in a somewhat spectacular fashion, Lucien is rather pragmatic about his fate but will he learn from his mistakes?

Spanning twenty years, Invincible Summer by Alice Adams is a captivating novel of friendship.  The chapters alternate between the different characters’ perspectives which provides intriguing glimpses of the friends at various points in their lives.  Although they drift apart occasionally through the years, their friendship evolves and strengthens as they undergo some very unanticipated and sometimes heartbreaking, life-altering events. 

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Filed under Alice Adams, Invincible Summer, Little Brown and Company, New Adult, Rated B, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas

girls whoTitle: Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Women’s Fiction
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A hilarious, deftly written debut novel about a woman whose wanderlust is about to show her that sometimes you don’t have to travel very far to become the person you want to be…

There are many reasons women shouldn’t travel alone. But as foul-mouthed, sweet-toothed Kika Shores knows, there are many more reasons why they should. After all, most women want a lot more out of life than just having fun. Kika, for one, wants to experience the world.

But ever since she returned from her yearlong backpacking tour, she’s been steeped in misery, battling rush hour with all the other suits. Getting back on the road is all she wants. So when she’s offered a nanny job in London – the land of Cadbury Cream Eggs – she’s happy at the prospect of going back overseas and getting paid for it. But as she’s about to discover, the most exhilarating adventures can happen when you stay in one place…

Wise, witty, and hilarious, Girls Who Travel is an unforgettable novel about the highs and lows of getting what you want—and how it’s the things you least expect that can change your life.


In Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas, heroine Kika Shores’ most important journey is one of self-discovery. This fast-paced and engaging novel has a cast of adorable characters and a surprisingly thought-provoking storyline and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a light-hearted read.

Now her yearlong globetrotting adventure is over, Kika is working a dull office job that leaves her pining for her ex-lover Lochlon O’Mahone and the freedom to travel. Not exactly the most reliable or engaged employee, it is no surprise that Kika finds herself unemployed due to her lackluster performance. But as luck would have it, she is quickly hired as an au pair for a wealthy American family living in London. Surprisingly, Kika turns over a new leaf as she begins to look more to the future than her past, but will a reunion with Lochlon force her to rethink her plans?

Kika is a sassy, smart and colorful heroine that is a bit immature at first, but slowly but surely comes into her own after moving to London. She is fun-loving but she takes her duties as an au pair seriously and the two young girls in charge begin to thrive under her tender loving care. No one is more shocked than Kika when, instead of taking short European holidays during her weekends off, she begins to save money and create a serious business plan for her on line shop.

While still looking forward to reconnecting with Lochlon, Kika is confused by her unexpected attraction to next door neighbor Aston Hyde Bettencourt. Their first meeting was quite inauspicious and their subsequent encounters are full of misunderstandings. Therefore, Kika is quite stunned when Aston rescues her from a potentially damaging meeting with someone from her past. Afterward, Kika finally clears the air with Aston and they form an unlikely friendship that has strong undercurrents of mutual attraction. However, her rendezvous with Lochlon is imminent so she keeps her relationship with Aston firmly in the friend zone. Kika’s reunion with Lochlon becomes a turning point but a series of unexpected events becomes another obstacle for her to overcome.

Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas is an entertaining novel that has a surprising amount of depth. Kika is a wonderful protagonist and watching her grow and mature is immensely gratifying. The storyline is quite refreshing with several unpredictable twists and turns. An all around delightful read that fans of contemporary women’s fiction are sure to enjoy.


Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Girls Who Travel, New Adult, Nicole Trilivas, Rated B, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: Letting Go by Jessica Ruddick

letting goTitle: Letting Go by Jessica Ruddick
Publisher: Entangled Embrace
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


How long do you hold on?

Cori Elliott likes order. Her schedule, her social life…even her GPA is perfect. Then she finds out her high school boyfriend’s death wasn’t an accident—it was suicide. The devastating revelation is enough to fracture her perfectly structured life, sending Cori in a downward spiral of self-doubt and impulsive decisions.

And right into the arms of Luke Evans.

But Cori’s life isn’t perfect anymore. In fact, it’s all coming apart. The only way she can save herself is to let go of everything—including the girl she used to be. Even if it means losing the one guy who might just be perfect for her in the process..


Letting Go is a very charming new adult romance by Jessica Ruddick. This debut novel is a sweet, fun read with minimal angst or drama. The characters are endearing and the plot is refreshingly unique.

Cori Elliott is a type A personality whose second year of college is not beginning under the best of circumstances. She is scrambling to cover her tuition after her financial aid falls through and she is devastated to learn her boyfriend Tyler’s death the previous spring has been ruled a suicide. Cori makes an impetus decision to go to a frat party where she acts even more out of character when she gets drunk and makes out with a hot stranger, Luke Evans. Luckily for Cori, Luke is actually a really great guy, but her inability to be honest about her past becomes a huge stumbling block for their burgeoning relationship.

Cori is a likable, but frustrating, character. She has very high standards for herself and she works hard to maintain her perfect GPA. Cori is quickly overwhelmed trying to balance her classes, a new relationship and finding last minute financial aid. She is also struggling to make sense of Tyler’s suicide and she is caught in an endless loop of blaming herself while at the same time playing the “what if” game.

Luke is a couple years older than Cori and he, too, is very serious about college. While he devotes plenty of time to studying, he also knows how to have a good time. Contrary to Cori’s assertions he is perfect, Luke made his share of mistakes in his previous relationship and he is completely honest about his role in its eventual demise. The only thing he asks in return is that Cori also come clean about her past as well.  Although she has numerous opportunities to explain her relationship with Tyler, Cori tells a bunch of half truths and tries to convince herself that lying by omission isn’t really lying. However, it is only a matter of time before Tyler discovers her secrets but will he be as understanding as she thinks he will be?

Letting Go is a very engaging novel and Jessica Ruddick does a wonderful job keeping the story moving forward despite Cori’s inability to completely let go of her past. The characters are beautifully developed with realistic issues to overcome. The romance between Cori and Luke is absolutely delightful and although their love scenes are not explicit, there is no denying the chemistry between them. It is an all around terrific read that fans of new adult romances are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Entangled: Embrace, Jessica Ruddick, Letting Go, New Adult, Rated B+, Review, Romance