Published by Atria Books on August 9th 2016
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I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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?
Based on all of these early five star reviews, I can already tell that this is a book that people are going to love, but it’s just not for me. One thing that I personally dislike in romance books is tons of pointless angst that never feels fully explained, and that happened in Swear on This Life. I wanted more intensity and chemistry between the two main characters instead of mostly seeing that through the flashback chapters. I didn’t believe in this romance and I just found the book as a whole to be rather disappointing to say the least. I hope you guys have better luck with this if you choose to read it!
I’m a total fan of the concept that the love of your life is suddenly a bestselling author after writing about your tough childhood. Honestly, I didn’t realize that it was going to be a book within a book. Meaning, as Emi reads the book, we get to read these chapters with her. Sometimes I find really long flashbacks extremely boring, but Carlino wrote it in a way that immediately drew me in. The story of Emi and Jase’s is definitely a tragic one, my heart continually broke for them as they faced hardship after hardship. So I didn’t have any issues with J. Colby’s book, I had issues with everything occurring in the present day.
As a person, I did like Emi for the most part. Her childhood was beyond difficult and I really sympathized with her in those pages. I love that she was able to overcome her past and be able to make something of her life. I loved that she was a writer, it was something I could identify with on a personal level. However, some of the decisions that she made in the present were beyond the point of simply being questionable. I didn’t understand why in the world she strung along her long term boyfriend when she still had deep feelings for her first love. I understand that she developed a different kind of feelings for the boyfriend, but her feelings for the other were so strong that it just seemed cruel to keep going along and leading the other guy on. In my opinion, that’s the worst type of love triangle, because the answer is so obvious, but there’s still a ton of drama with the boyfriend before she can achieve happiness with her first love.
Look, I strongly disliked Jase from the start. I didn’t find him all that charming now that he’s reached some level of fame. Besides that, it’s actually never made clear why he didn’t contact her for a decade. Like that’s such a huge part of the plot so you think it’d be addressed in a more direct way, but nope, you never get answers really. I did fall for the Jackson character in the story that Jase wrote, but I honestly believed that they acted completely different. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, the whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way. I also felt like he was a bit of a douchebag who reveled in all of the female attention. Yeah, he wrote the book to catch Emi’s eye, but he just didn’t feel all that genuine in person to me. The gesture was definitely nice, but he was beyond cocky when it came to winning her love one final time.
I have no doubt that this book will win over many people, it just didn’t do it for me. Did I mention that this book has hardly any sexual content at all? It’s pretty disappointing since I expected this book to be a bit more mature, but it really doesn’t. Swear on This Life would have been a better book if the main character was more decisive and handled her decisions in a more mature fashion. I’m never going to be a fan of a romance that includes a love triangle that makes no sense. Though I’m all for this concept, the general execution could have been so much better, in my opinion. I hope you guys like it, but I’m hoping to find a romance that I can personally connect with in a way that I wasn’t able to do here.