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Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story by [Carlino, Renee]
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Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 493 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Before We Were Strangers is as steamy as it is sweet. With two characters who are meant to be but just can't get the timing right, Renée Carlino has mastered the missed connection. I found myself rooting for Matt and Grace at every turn and aching to crawl into the book to go back to the ’90s to join them. Evocative, tender, and satisfying, Carlino has outdone herself." (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Maybe in Another Life, After I Do, and Forever Interrupted )

“Powerful and poignant, Before We Were Strangers captures the magic and heartache of first love. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.” (Tracey Garvis-Graves, New York Times bestselling author of On the Island and Covet )

“I loved every single thing about this book! Nostalgia, first love, the echo of heartbreak, the rocky road to where you were always meant to be—this book has everything and then some. You can’t help but be transported.” (Jay Crownover, New York Times bestselling author of Better When He’s Bad )

“Sometimes we need a reminder that love is worth fighting for. Before We Were Strangers is a beautiful, real, heartfelt reminder.” (Kim Holden, author of Gus and Bright Side )

“I felt like I found a piece of my soul in this book. I've highlighted so many lines to use as a reference for daily inspiration. I was that moved.” (Kim Jones, author of Red )

"Compelling and evocative. Matt and Grace’s story will pull at your heartstrings while reminding you that true love can conquer the most difficult challenges. This is Renée Carlino’s best, most poignant work to date." (Vilma's Book Blog )

“Exquisitely written… I highly recommend this if you’re in the mood for a really great, heartfelt journey, loaded [with] angst and healing, all in the name of true love.” (Maryse's Book Blog )

“One of the most romantic, heartfelt, and consuming books I've ever read. To say that I'm in love with it would feel like the biggest understatement, ever… I'm blessed, so insanely lucky, to have found a story that I finished reading with tears in my eyes and a more beautiful outlook on life, love, and believing in second chances.” (Book Baristas )

“Ms. Carlino has a flair for dreamy, passionate love stories that warm our hearts and feed every romantic bone in our bodies, but this time around, she has given us a true gem, a timeless tale of a never-ending love set against the backdrop of a magical city she captured oh-so perfectly, a tale that I suspect will become a favourite for many.” (Natasha is a Book Junkie )

“This is Renée Carlino’s BEST. WORK. YET. This book broke my heart and built it up all over again and is complete and utter perfection. Just read it…. My words won’t do it justice. This is most definitely one of my favorites of 2015 and a book that I will never ever forget <3.” (Shh Moms Reading )

Before We Were Strangers is an extraordinarily superb second chance, friends-to-lovers combination that you won’t be able to put down, or forget. It’s also one that needs to be owned in multiple formats.” (Holly's Red Hot Reviews )

“[T]his is an author to watch… This book was the perfect combination of a swoony romance filled with laughs, touching heartfelt moments, and even a few tears. Such an emotional read that gave me the warm and fuzzy feelings I was hoping for. A perfect summer romance that you will fall into headfirst and come out grinning from ear to ear, and possibly even wiping away a few tears.” (Lost in Literature )

“This book is sweet, emotional, sad, heartbreaking, at times overwhelming, but most importantly it is an uplifting love story! ...I not only highly recommend this book, but can’t wait to dive into other books by Renée.” (Three Girls & A Book Obsession )

“A dazzling and heartbreaking story of missed connections and the possibility of a second chance at love. Epic, emotional, and stunningly beautiful… It’s easily my favorite book this year and one of my all-time favorites.” (Nestled in a Book )

“Mesmerizing. Intoxicating. Heartbreaking. Before We Were Strangers was everything I love about reading. I was completely enthralled by Grace and Matt’s story that I was unaware of everything that was going on around me… This story will stay with me forever… This is one I could reread every year.” (Eclectic Bookworms )

“It’s truly unputdownable once you start it. Renée Carlino gave us a story we won’t forget. We loved everything about it. Incredible, heart pounding, beautiful—pure perfection.” (Schmexy Girl Book Blog )

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… 5 Serendipitous, Sweet Passionate Love, Soulmates Forever Filled Stars!" (A Bookish Escape )

“Heartbreakingly beautiful and wistfully poetic, Before We Were Strangers is the type of book that will immediately capture your attention and won’t relinquish its hold until the very end… [R]efreshingly real, hopelessly romantic, and uplifting in a way that had me smiling nonstop throughout the final chapters. It's rare for a book to have such a deep emotional effect on me that 6 stars is the only possible rating to give Before We Were Strangers.” (Nose Stuck in a Book )

“This lady knows how to write pure romance and infinite love. She writes about seemingly real people with realistic plots. No fluff, no bull! Before We Were Strangers was sheer perfection! It is a timeless and epic love story… This book has it all. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE! Fabulous job Renée. You are one of the great ones! Keep going…” (Blushing Babes are Up All Night )

Before We Were Strangers is no doubt the best contemporary romance book I’ve read this year… What I loved? EVERYTHING… [E]very component of this book is perfect.” (The Book Enthusiast )

“This book blew me away… I was so enthralled with this touching heartwrenching story, and the incredibly well developed characters... This was my first read by Renée Carlino. Now I can't wait to go back and explore some of her backlist titles!” (The Romance Reviews )

“With Renée Carlino’s highly anticipated fifth release, I’d say she has finally found her writer’s groove: she knows what’s up and how to bring it… What sets Carlino and Before We Were Strangers apart from all the other romance novels, in this incredibly fast-moving market, is her ability to set the tone and bring the stage to life… No doubt, Before We Were Strangers will satisfy any voracious romance reader. This novel is writing at its best, and then some.” (Read This Hear That )

“I've read and really enjoyed all of Renée Carlino's previous books. Before We Were Strangers is her best work yet! I loved everything about this book—the unique storyline, the writing style, the characters, the emotion. It is absolutely brilliant…one of my favorite books of the year!” (My Little Library Book Blog )

“I read this pretty much in one sitting. This book was equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking… This will be on my top books of the year. It was just so damn beautiful.” (A Book Whore's Obsession )

Before We Were Strangers is easily one of my favorite books of 2015… Renée Carlino’s writing is effortless, and the story is engrossing and intensely poignant… This book is so skillfully crafted it can be considered both a New Adult and an Adult Contemporary novel. It’s a friends-to-lovers story as well as a second chance romance… This is the first book I’ve read by Renée Carlino, but it certainly won’t be my last.” (The Book Geek )

“[B]eautiful and heartbreaking… Before We Were Strangers was a book I’m thoroughly happy that I picked up; it spans a one of a kind, beautiful relationship that readers won’t want to miss out on.” (The Reader's Den )

About the Author

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and the bestselling author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, and Before We Were Strangers. She grew up in Southern California and lives in the San Diego area with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. To learn more, visit ReneeCarlino.com.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3428 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1st edition (August 18, 2015)
  • Publication Date: August 18, 2015
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00O65X7MI
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,535 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Have you ever read a book that from the very first page you simply feel - connected? Connected to the story, the characters, the setting? That, as you are reading, you have to stop and hold it over your heart and whisper-wish into the void that you love everything about it? Keep a copy on you at all times, hoping that maybe you can revisit your favorite moments anytime you want? Fall in love with it each and every time you read it - the first time, the fifth time, the last time? For me, Before We Were Strangers is that book.

Before We Were Strangers follows Matt and Grace as they enter their final years at NYU. Matt is a photographer whose professional success in the industry is imminent. Much like him, his work is smart, forthright and beautiful. Grace is a cellist favored by her cohorts. She plays with life and honesty and her talent reaches far beyond her insecurities. As friends first, Matt and Grace simply feel themselves into love with one another, not giving chance to anything or anyone on their way. Their relationship is serendipitous and alive with the simplicity of first love. Through shared experiences, joys and insecurities they find their affections received with the utmost devotion and propensity as it is given, but sometimes life, expectations and ambitions get in the way, and you need a second chance. A do-over where you hope not everything has been turned to ash.

Renee Carlino seems to write casts and stories that always leave an impression on me. I want to grab her characters through my book and hug them, talk to them, laugh with them. They're real, and fun, and have flaws the same as the rest of us.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I knew it would have to be a very special story to surpass my love for Sweet Thing, but I now have a new Renee Carlino favorite! Before We Were Strangers has all of the characteristics that I love to see in a contemporary romance. I love the friends-to-lovers scenario, and if it is done right, they can be so very satisfying. Carlino had me wrapped around her little finger with Matt and Gracie. I just love how they dance around each other as their feelings for each other evolve. Before We Were Strangers is also a second chance romance. These are characters that I absolutely adore, and I fell in love with them, their relationship, not once, but twice.

In many ways, Matthias William Shore and Graceland Marie Starr are a typical college couple. They meet at the beginning of their senior year at NYU. They are kindred, free spirits. A photographer and cellist, both having extremely artistic souls. Their relationship is lighthearted and sweet. Matt and Gracie are fast friends, confidants, and before the year is over, lovers. It is a whirlwind year, but graduation closes in around Matt and Gracie, and they are pulled in separate directions. Fast forward fifteen years. Matt and Gracie have been living completely separate lives. That is, until the day Matt sees Gracie on the subway train that is pulling away, and his heart aches to reconnect with her.

There is something very special about Matt and Gracie, and more specifically, how these two interact to each other. Their college relationship is playful, and their personalities are buoyant. They enjoy each other’s friendship, but there is a real tension which sparks between them. In reality, they face problems like all college kids do, but it’s the way they respond to their problems which sets this couple apart.
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Format: Paperback
Some Spoilers

I bought this because of positive recommendations on the AMAZON Second Chance discussion site and because of all the five starred reviews.
Until the H, Matt, went to South America I enjoyed this story. In it, the author depicted a tender tale of two young, beautiful, talented, passionate and (eventually) mutually lusty young people exploring New York (on even less than a shoe-string) as they became instant friends - and then fell deeply in love. I even considered Matt the star of this book, as he showed patience with and care of Grace, the h, who was reticent about talking their close friendship to the next level.
When they did become lovers, I became mildly irritated by the couple's mutual inability to share with one another that they were not just having amazing, obsessional sex, but were also in (emotional) love. It just didn't seem credible for two such characters. This was, however, so obviously considered necessary by the author (so that her BIG MISUNDERSTANDING would be convincing) that, initially, I was satisfied to let it slide.
For a second chance romance to work, however, the reason for the separation must also be credible. In my view, this one isn't. Why?
1. The author makes much of the fact that Matt sends all his possessions back to LA when he leaves for South America and that Grace asks him not to do so. He was only going away for a few months and was supposedly so broke he couldn't make phone calls, but he could afford to send all his possessions (presumably, including his bulky, beloved writing desk) across the country? Implausible.
2. He goes away for months and only makes one phone call to Grace (as previously mentioned, supposedly because he is broke) in which he grumbles about it costing $70.
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