[584]: Before We were Strangers by Renée Carlino


Before We were Strangers \ Renée Carlino

R  E  V  I  E  W

Le sigh. I may have read this book at least three times already. You know, sometimes, I try to tune out the cascade of five-star ratings for a book simply because I’m a cynical reader. It’s a character flaw, but it had saved me money on some occasions. I picked it up a couple of weeks ago in San Diego. I basically read it on our flight home, and since it was a bit of a tear jerker, I might’ve made a mess of myself somewhere between California and Colorado.

The romance between Matt and Grace was just one of those intense things that wasn’t meant to be at first. They met at a time when things were simple, but life was not. Grace was dirt poor and was putting herself through college. She was a gifted musician who plays the cello. Matt, though in a different situation financially, was trying to make do without smooching off his father’s money. Their attraction was instantaneous, but they were both driven to succeed in their fields. Matt was a brilliant photographer who had dreams of working for National Geographic. They both knew a relationship was not the best idea at the time. But they’re young and attractive – and attracted to each other. Long story short, fate intervened and broke them apart. Bitch.

Anyway, they met again after 15 years. Matt was a divorcee; Grace was a widow. So much unresolved resentment between them, but only a blind person wouldn’t be able to see how much they still love each other.

I absolutely loved this story. See? Sometimes, it pays to heed the hype. If you’re a fan of second chance romances, this one is a doozy. Though can I be honest and admit that I’m hung up on Matt wearing a man bun?  A MAN BUN, y’all. A man bun. But hey, trust me when I say the story was good. From time to time, I find myself flipping through my favourite scenes just to remember that feeling. Le sigh. Sorry this wasn’t much of a review.  I’m a little tired. Lol.

Peace out.

GOODREADS SUMMARY | Atria Books | August 18th, 2015 | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars



  • A man bun hmmm? But is he a hipster? 😛 I’ve not actually heard of this one before, but I’ll trust you on the hype. It sounds like you really enjoyed it! And now I’m going to add it to my TBR (damn, you weren’t kidding about all that hype!)

  • Oh god I cringed a little at man bun haha. Some people can pull it off but majority? Yeah no thanks.

    I do like the sound of a second-chance romance. I really want to know what broke them apart in the first place (aside from their aspirations and job)! And it’s just so sweet that after all these years, they still maintained such strong feelings for each other. Seriously awww!!!

  • Sara Walker

    You’ve convinced me! I’ve just requested it from the library. I need this in my life.

  • yes, I trust you, haha. Judging by how you talk about it, it feels that I’m going to like this one. You made me want to see how Matt and Grace’s story goes..

  • Ksenia

    Wow, reread three times? While I’ve
    seen this book around I wasn’t sure, but your enthusiasm is very infectious.
    Also man bun?

  • I can really tell this book was amazing for you – your review is giving all the feels, lol! This sounds like a wonderful second chance romance – yay! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and review, Joy 🙂

  • Erica Miller

    I have heard so many wonderful things about this one 🙂 This sounds like something I will thoroughly enjoy! 😀 Great review.

  • I am so glad you loved this one! It made me cry too! It’s definitely a book I need to read again! What happened after the 15 years broke my heart!!

  • You may be tired but you sure have tempted me! Great review as far as I am concerned 🙂

  • Keertana @ Ivy Book Bindings

    I looove second chance romances with adult characters and, ugh, I love when you read a book and you just can’t express it in words because it’s that good. Also, those books where you flip back to your favorite scenes so you can never leave that world? YES. Definitely picking this up ASAP!

  • I enjoy your reviews so much. Your always able to make us love a book we haven’t read without spoiling any details. Your amazing, don’t ever stop reviewing books haha!

  • Jenny @ Supernatural Snark

    Not sure about the man bun situation Joy, but everything else sounds AMAZING! I have a feeling I’m going to need a lot of chocolate on hand when I read this. A lot. I do so love a second chance romance, especially one where things didn’t end all that well originally and there’s a lot of hurt and resentment lingering. I just get all the feels:) Thanks for the recommendation, so glad this lived up to the hype!

  • Not sure about second chance love affairs, I think life made me swear off that. LOL. The man bun seems to be a fad these days, but only a few can really pull it off. Setting that aside, I’m glad this book got you through your flight, even though it made you cry. I hope nobody thought you’re crazy 😛 (This happened to me before.)

  • Awesome review Joy. <3 So so glad that you loved this book so much 🙂 I do sound pretty good; but not for me :p Yet you have made me curious. How mean 😀 Thank you for sharing your stunning thoughts about it sweetie. <3

  • I AM! I AM! I’m totally a fan of those second chance, run into one another years later type romances. Realising that what might have been your first love or an intense romance that didn’t work the first time around, and BAM, unresolved feelings. Even better when they try to start as friends and make it work as platonic partners. This sounds beautiful Joy and I can’t wait to read it now either *BIG HUGS* fantastic review <3 <3

  • RO

    Sometimes we just connect with a really cool book with a fab story. Sounds like this was it! Hugs…ro

  • Hyped books almost always fall flat for me, and this was yet another that flopped! The characters grated on me and I found it predictable. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Oh it was hyped? Did not know that

  • You totally had me at ‘MAN BUN’.

    I kid, I kid. I am a picky romance reader, but I’ve seen and heard enough about this one to want to give it a try! Lovely review, Joy. <3

  • i personally think you did an awesome job with this capturing this book because you did it with emotional and left me wanting more

  • Wait wait wait… what is a Man Bun? Hmm? It sounds… odd. O.o I am glad you loved this one! I am the same way with overly hyped up books. It takes me FOREVER to pick one up because half the time, I do not enjoy that 5 star reads. Alas, I am trying to be better about it. I do love good second chance romance, though, so I am adding this one to the top of my TBR List!

  • kindlemom1

    You’ve read this three times and are still rating it five stars? Sold! It does pay to listen to the hype every now and then for sure. 😉

  • Jasprit

    I’m so so happy that you ended up loving this one just as much as I did Joy. I’m a sucker for second chance romances especially when they’re done well and this one was done beautifully! Gorgeous review! 🙂

  • This makes me so happy!!! Before We Were Strangers was one of my favorite books this year, so I love seeing others adoring it as well. <3

  • I’m happy you loved this one, Joy. I read this one because of peer pressure (LOL!), but I ended up really disliking it. For some reason, the writing didn’t click with me and I despised the twist at the end. But I can certainly see why the book appealed to others. Second chance romances are always so lovely to read!
    Lovely review! 🙂

  • Jazmen

    I’ve been wanting to read this so bad. They finally got a copy at my favorite bookstore, now if I can just go get it! Great review!

  • Can I just start by saying how much I love that photo? Secondly, you have been reading a lot of great books lately, which must be epic. I am gonna have to add this one to my TBR now 😀 It sounds wonderful and like it makes for an epic read 🙂

  • I think that was all the review I need, because I want to read this bad now.

  • Melliane

    It’s great that you had such a good time with this one! It’s nice to have a second chance romance like that!

  • Adriana C

    It sounds really good, I´m just add it to my wishlist. thanks for the recommendation.