From the national bestselling author of Before We Were Strangers, Swear on this Life, and Wish You Were Here comes a powerful story of two people who spend years denying their scientifically proven chemistry.
Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio—and she was a dancer on the rise. Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.
The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering. And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.
For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.
Carlino (Wish You Were Here) impresses and astonishes with this complicated, beautiful contemporary that shifts between past and present with devastating effect. Penny Piper and Gavin Berninger meet at Colorado State University in Fort Collins in a most unusual way: participating in a psych class experiment that has them kissing blindfolded. Little does either realize that kiss will be life-changing. Dance is Penny's deepest passion, and she refuses to allow herself to fall in love with Gavin, even though she thinks the engineering student is drop-dead sexy. An accident ends Penny's dancing dreams and leads to both Penny and Gavin making a series of terrible life decisions, and it seems that the two of them will never find their way back to each other, but after almost two decades, they get a second chance. Carlino's sharp, incisive prose calls the traditional romance novel ending into question throughout. The expert characterizations and a constantly surprising plot are enthralling. Deep and complex, this heartbreaking and heartwarming tale will live in readers' memories long after the final page is turned.
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Review: Blind Kiss
Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino is a second chance romance for the ages. Told in dual POV and spanning from college through adulthood the story is told in a well woven intricate balance of now and then, past and present, Penny and Gavin's first meeting to their current situation and all the drama that unfolds in between is epic. Highly emotional and bittersweet at times, this story will have you flipping the pages faster and faster to finally see what happens when two best friends stop denying fate and allow love and what was meant to be just be.
Penny is a dancer. It is her love. Her relationship with her father is strong, but her mother's focus is on her much younger sister and the beauty pageants she is always involved in. In college she is bribed with coffee shop gift cards by a friend to participate in a study - a "Blind Kiss". It is nerve wracking leading up to the experiment but once her lips land on Gavin's she is hooked. She refuses to allow a boy to deter her future goals however and keeps him at arms length. But the chemistry between them is off-the-charts.
Gavin is flighty with women but serious about Penny and all the new things she has stirred up inside him. Taking her anyway he can get her, if friends is what she wants, friends is where he'll be but he'll always be ready for more. The bond they build is nearly indestructible until the one tragic accident that splinters their friendship and sets them both on the wrong course, heading away from each other. It takes years, but they always remain friends and eventually the story ends on a happily ever after. Enjoy!
Love is not blind
The couples in Renée Carlino's books tend to be torn apart due to circumstances beyond their control, whether job transfers or illnesses. In this case, Penny and Gavin are not together simply because one of them, at various times, thinks it's a bad idea. Carlino makes it very clear, however, that this couple transcends soulmates. They are not so much meant to be together as they must be together.
The two meet when they volunteer (or, in Penny's case, are voluntold) in a college psychology study about how rooted attraction is in the visual. In their case, their attraction is immediate. It's combustible and visceral. And yet Penny is not ready. She has her senior year dance study that she must prioritize, and she can't let her focus waver, not even for Gavin. So they settle into a best friendship, pledging their devotion to each other.
Renée Carlino goes back and forth in time, from fourteen years ago when Penny and Gavin met to three years in the future. She shows you how their relationship builds, how deeply they love each other, and how devastatingly they can hurt each other. She also shows you that no two people operate in a vacuum: there are friends, family members, and classmates who affect how Penny and Gavin behave together, separately, and toward each other. Some of the scenes will crush you, others will make you smile and laugh. There will be times when you want to shout at Penny or Gavin - or both of them - and beg them to reconsider what they're about to do. All along, Renée Carlino shows you that this relationship will never truly be broken. The question is, though, what sort of relationship will it be?
I could not put this book down, and when it was over, I was furious. I did not want to say goodbye to Gavin and Penny or their friends and family members. I wanted to spend more time with them. I wanted to see more of Gavin's silly tee shirts and watch Penny dance.
I was not ready to let go.
Isn't that the surest sign that you've spent time with a great book?
When you read this - and you MUST - please come back and let me know your thoughts.
One hell of a ride
Holy angst, Batman! I have never wanted to cheat and read the end of a book so bad! But I was a good little reader and didn’t do it. I actually didn’t even read the synopsis so I went in totally blind.
This is a story of friendship, family, life, and love. It all started with a kiss. An epic kiss. A kiss that starts a friendship that Penny and Gavin didn’t expect. A friendship that walked the line. That line between friendship and more. Until she had to make a decision that would change their lives.
Sorry...I can’t go into it more than that except to say how it made me feel. I felt for Penny and Gavin. I fell for Gavin from the very beginning. He is funny, smart, sexy, and protective. I liked Penny from the beginning. She had a lot to deal with with from beginning to end. I got it. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to throw my kindle at her head a few times. The angst, I tell ya, the angst is strong with this one. The anticipation killed me. Their story pulled me in. As much as I wanted to slap them, I want to hug them.
Overall...this book is one hell of a ride. I cried. I laughed. I swooned. I cried some more. I was a mess.
“Yes, Penny. I want to study you . . . I mean with you. I’ll be here.”
“I’m looking at you. I always see you, Penny.” His eyes were intense.
“Well, Tiny Dancer, I came here to see a show.”