Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

I have to admit, I am normally very fussy about what romances that I read and I can be a harsh critic of the genre, especially when it is an NA romance. This time around, something about this book had me hooked from the moment that I read its description. I guess that I have a bit of a soft spot for love stories that involve second chances, or the one who got away ...

Before We Were Strangers opens with Matt, a thirty-something man who has recently suffered the humiliation of his wife cheating on him with one of their colleagues and then leaving him. He claims to be over it and not interested in finding anyone else. Then one day while he is travelling on the subway, he sees a familiar face, Grace, a woman who he loved during his college days and who mysteriously disappeared when he went to work abroad one summer. And with no way of being able to contact Grace, Matt publishes a beautiful note to her online. From there, the story goes back in time to tell the how Matt and Grace met, details their friendship that developed instantly despite their very different backgrounds and a relationship where they were never quite open with one another in the right ways. When we move back into the present, we discover a cruel betrayal and a very unexpected surprise ... But can Matt and Grace overcome all obstacles to be together the second time around?

For me, this book was enjoyable light reading. Although both Matt and Grace infuriated me at times, the author wrote both characters with a lot of empathy, which is very important for a story like this. I did feel that Matt's voice was a little inauthentic--I think that it could have had a more masculine edge. But that said, he is an interesting and likeable character.

A beautiful, light story about second chances. Recommended.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my reading copy.


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