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Blind Kiss

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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... 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."

319 pages, Paperback

First published August 14, 2018

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About the author

Renee Carlino

17 books6,935 followers
Renée Carlino is a bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including Cosmopolitan Magazine, InStyle Magazine, USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, Publisher's Weekly, Redbook, Sunset Magazine, Coastal Living and the Union Tribune. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two sons. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

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5 stars
1,013 (29%)
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1,346 (39%)
3 stars
738 (21%)
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87 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 609 reviews
Profile Image for Christy.
3,706 reviews31.5k followers
August 9, 2018
4 stars!!!

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I'm not sure if I've ever read a book so frustrating before. Seriously, this one messed me up. I finished it days ago and I don't know if I loved it or hated it. I have no idea how I felt about the story or the characters. Renee Carlino is one hell of a writer, though and she sure did make me feel. I felt so many emotions while reading this story. Not all of them were good, but they were all strong and powerful and that says a lot about this story! It's not very often that a story effects me this much. 

Gavin and Penny meet in college after they were asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” When it came to the two of them, the answer was an astounding  yes. They become fast friends after that blind kiss, but you can tell there is so much there, simmering just below the surface. During the college years of Penny and Gavin, it seemed like they never could get it together. That maybe friendship was all that would ever be between them.
I ran my fingers through his hair. It was intimate, but we were intimately close friends. He was truly my best friend, and there were a million reasons why he was—more.

Fast forward 14 years later and Penny and Gavin are still best friends. But their lives are still on totally different tracts. No matter how in-sync they may be, things were never easy for them. This story is told from the past and present and we get both Penny and Gavin's pov. It stressed me out. It was the timing. The timing was never right. And I loved to hate it and hated to love reading about these soulmates, these two people who couldn't be together, but couldn't be apart, and could never get their shit together at the same time. 

I honestly spent days pondering on how to rate this book. There were moments I was sure I was going to rate it on the low side because I was so ragey. Then other moments I knew it had to be a 4 or 5 because the writing was THAT GOOD and it effected me so much. So a 4 it is. If you are a lover of angst, you need this book in your life. Period. 

This couple has an undeniable connection and their friendship and love is beyond. When I was reading their story, all I could think of was this Beau Tapin quote:
One day, whether you are 14, 28, or 65, you will stumble upon someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die. However, the saddest, most awful truth you will ever come to find- is they are not always with whom we spend our lives.
It always makes me cry and this book had me in tears all the way through. I feel like is review is kind of all over the place, and I'm not really clear on if I'm recommending this book, but I AM. Renee Carlino is an amazing storyteller and this book is a journey. Some people might hate it, but I think most who read it will love it and appreciate it no matter how many times they wanted to throw their kindle ;) 
A minute is forever. A kiss left on your lips to remember. I’m your lover, I’m your friend. You’re mine. You were always my lover . . . for a lifetime in my mind.
Profile Image for Jenny••Steamy Reads Blog••.
987 reviews1,799 followers
August 14, 2018
***Now Available***

Gonna be straight up honest, this book took a year off my life. So be warned, you want angst, you want emotional frustration, crave the chase, seek lie after lie, and literally after years, and I mean years, you get what your heart has been dying for, then this is your book. My poor heart. My poor heart ached throughout this one

I’m gonna be vague, maybe a bit confusing but I don’t want to give too much away

We start off falling in love with a strong, independent woman, one that put her education and career before a relationship. She was up front, said after school finals, graduation, and her dance final, she was all his, just wait for me, she had said. So easy just a couple months. Penny, this strong passionate woman endured so much heartache, family troubles, losing loved ones, shattered dreams, she lost all her drive. When she needed her best friend most, he had other priorities. Bad choices are made when grief takes over. You have to remember your drive, your happiness, your will to live happily. Right??

“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”

Gavin, my soul hurt for him. He had me so tied up, twisted, begging to be slapped. He’s a gorgeous, sexy, tatted up man. He seeks acceptance in the arms of a woman, no matter who it is. His downfall is not following his heart. So once it’s crushed and broken into pieces, it’s as if he grows up and gets his shit together over night....

Timing, it all comes down to timing. Growing from mistakes, watching from the sidelines what should have been yours. This was pure torture, absolute hell. My heart hurt for Gavin, it hurt for Penny, but it shattered for Lance & Milo. This story tore me up, I wanted more, yet wanted it to end. Yes I am healed and happy in the end, but...... there is so much in the middle of this book that I needed and wanted more, that’s me 🙃

If you love the chase, the angst, the deep soul love soulmate lovers seek, and you crave the deserving HEA, grab this one!!!!!! It’s all in this one

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Profile Image for jessica.
2,475 reviews29.6k followers
September 14, 2018
this is, without a doubt, the most emotionally draining and painfully frustrating book i have ever read. but goodness me, i am so in awe of how a story could be so imperfectly perfect.

yes, the characters had their flaws, but neither of them were unlikable. they were real and honest and relatable. they were the type of characters that slowly grew on you - the type of characters who, by the end of the book, you would do anything for. i spent so much time whilst reading this just heartbroken that the two of them, these best friends, just couldnt seem to get their timing right. but how often is life like that? where things beyond your control come up and you have have to make really difficult decisions, decisions may lead to heartache. i couldnt help but become so invested in penny and gavin and their rollercoaster of a relationship, both the ups and the downs.

when it comes to contemporary romance, i wont enjoy the book if it doesnt have a clear happy ending in sight. but for once, i really appreciated seeing these characters struggle and learn and grow and figure out what they meant to each other. this story was the perfect example of what it means to fight to keep those who mean something to you in your life, that sometimes the love of a best friend is the most wholesome kind of love, and that there are many different definitions of happiness.

this book was raw and emotional and tender. this book was a story of two ordinary people trying to make their ordinary lives and relationships something extraordinary. and i loved every page of it. <3

5 stars
Profile Image for KAS.
317 reviews3,130 followers
August 26, 2018

Talk about squirm in my seat angsty-ness!!

So, Me and Angst are bosom buddies! The more angst the better. A friend of mine told me if I liked angst, this one was for me, so of course, I pounced.

By chapter two, the heaviness in my chest started. I was on pins and needles wondering where this story would lead. My heart definitely knew which way I wanted the scenario to play out and the suspense was killing me.

And by darn, I was going to be steaming mad if I didn’t get MY outcome.

Okay, so I am going to be extremely vague about the plot line. You have two guys, Gavin and Lance, and one girl, named Penny. Of course, both are in love with her. Sorry, that is all you get out of me.

I totally dig the reason this book s named “Blind Kiss.” It sets the stage for everything.

The storyline takes you an emotional roller coaster ride spanning fourteen years, and goes back and forth between the past and the present. It is also is told in with a dual narrative, so major plus.

It would surprise me if most readers didn’t pick sides early on. The ending could have gone either way.

Did I get my ending? Not telling!!

Will you get your ending? Will the angst pure eat you alive? Only one way to find out ;)

Profile Image for Jennifer Kyle.
2,338 reviews4,595 followers
August 17, 2018
“It’s been this way forever. I’ve always been your lover...for a lifetime in my mind.”

This a frustrating story yet I loved it even though so much pain and distance was self inflicted by the main characters. I was glued to every word and every scene. Well done what a ride!
Profile Image for Angie - Angie's Dreamy Reads.
686 reviews13.5k followers
July 27, 2018
4.5 Stars

THIS BOOK. THIS FREAKING BOOK. What a whirlwind! Wow! You’re either going to LOVE it or HATE it. These characters are infuriating, undeniably flawed and frustrating and addicting and compelling and beautiful. THE FEELS. I don't even know what to say, what to think, where to start, but it most definitely bears repeating: THIS IS A LOVE OR HATE IT TYPE OF READ. Penny and Gavin are intense. In fact, their chaotic story demands your attention. It screams for it, relentlessly pursues it, and forces you to feel it whether you want to or not. It strips you, drives under your skin, into your bones, and I fucking loved it. I love being pissed, devastated, and everything in between. Those feelings of being ravaged and spit out by a book make for an intoxicating reading experience. I feel so much right now, I truly don't know where to start. Blind Kiss is an emotional free-fall, and I'm breathless!

Penny Pipper and Gavin Berninger are two best friends who meet in a study. Immediately, it's evident that they have an explosive chemistry and an intrinsic connection. As two compelling personalities, these characters have you eating out of the palm of their hands. Gavin’s a musician and a mechanic, a free spirited, quirky personality who gives you tingles, makes you swoon, but also drives you utterly crazy. Penny, a fierce and feisty dancer, ignites feelings just as strong with her stubborn ways and sometimes thoughtless actions. Blind Kiss drives from past and present, unveiling these characters to us in all their gritty glory. I was spellbound by the inner workings of Gavin and Penny's friendship and just couldn't get enough. This most certainly isn’t a picked fence type of read, it’s throw your Kindle worthy, and I have NO DOUBT that it’ll fire up some strong opinions in readers.

Intensely infuriating yet explosively romantic and breathtaking, this is story about two friends who make impulsive decisions that affect their friendship for years and years. It’s not an easy read, the timing is never right for these characters, but it's riveting. Riddled with twists and turns that have your heart stopping, Blind Kiss WRECKS YOU.


I love a book that makes me shake with rage, that makes me want to scream at the characters, that makes me want to cry and pace my house, and ultimately close my eyes in relief and breathe deep when it’s all over and done. Renee Carlino delivers a messy, complicated tale of love that happens between two people who just AREN'T READY FOR IT. Gavin and Penny fight the attraction because their longing, their yearning, their aching for one another SCARES THEM (devastating you in the process).

Overall, I'm so so sooooooo into this story. I loved it’s unique, gritty, intense, and thought-provoking words. I’m so curious to see what others will think, because I know it's going to STIR PEOPLE UP, and I can’t wait for that. Books should test you! This one will. With Renee Carlino's exquisite writing and a set of characters that will have you shaking your head, I think Blind Kiss is a MUST READ. I absolutely loved it.
Profile Image for Patty ~ Wrapped Up In Reading Book Blog.
1,260 reviews9,894 followers
August 18, 2018
*****4.5 STARS*****
{ARC Generously Provided by Author}

Penny and I still had a spark that couldn’t be snuffed out. All the plans I’d drawn for the life I thought we’d have together were playing out in some parallel universe. Even if I was stuck in this stupid version of us, where she was encouraging me to go out with other women, I knew there was a Penny and Gavin living as a couple out there, right along beside us.

Renee Carlino has a knack for writing some of the most angst-filled stories I’ve ever read, and I almost always hate her Heroines. That was certainly the case with Penny. I think I was angry the entire time I read this book but also had trouble putting it down. When a story makes me feel emotions so strongly, I know that it’s well written. I almost threw my iPad against the wall but overall I was thoroughly entertained.

It’s hard to categorize this story. It could be considered a love triangle but in all honesty from the moment Gavin and Penny met, you know right away that they’re meant for each other and that anyone who comes between them is just a temporary distraction. While Penny and Gavin label each other ”best-friends”, there is no doubt that they were lovers from the start. These two were so wrapped up in each other and obviously head over heels in love, it’s just Penny’s stupidity that drove the wedge between them. I spent almost the entire length of the book thoroughly disgusted with Penny. I thought she was extremely selfish and Gavin was just a little too good to be true. While the chemistry between Gavin and Penny was palpable, it almost seemed like their relationship was more toxic than healthy.

The whole tone of the story was depressing. I couldn’t wait to be finished reading this one, just to shake the gloomy feelings off.

Here are my overall ratings

Hero: 4.5
Heroine: 3
Plot: 4.5
Angst: 5
Steam: 4
Chemistry Between Hero & Heroine: 5

BLIND KISS is currently available. I recommend that you have a nice bottle of wine handy before diving into this one! Those of you who crave angst will definitely want to get your hands on this book!

AMAZON: http://amzn.to/2oLi4B8
B&N: http://bit.ly/2H5u47f
iTunes: https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/...

Profile Image for Malene.
1,168 reviews497 followers
June 26, 2018
Talk about angst galore. My heart is beating overtime after finishing Blind Kiss. Holy moly I’m exhausted emotionally after have experienced Penny and Gavin’s story. Their story is one emotional roller coaster. My primary emotion while reading Blind Kiss was frustration. I was frustrated with Penny and Gavin. Frustrated by their choices and of course because their story didn’t went where I wanted it to go but that’s also why I enjoyed Blind Kiss so much. Their fourteen years of friendship is filled with so much love and pain but despite their struggles they were always there for one another. As years went on they were never out of touch with one another. When it finally did happen it was because it was what they both needed in their life. To gain perspective and to be ready for their next chapter in their lives.

Their first meeting, the blind kiss is truly a remarkable and intense scene of human connection. Emotionally and physically. Wow. I felt their kiss and their connection instantly. Penny and Gavin were inseparable from that moment and a beautiful friendship was formed. Not only with one another but also with each other’s parents. Their dads played a very important role in both their lives. Their scenes were highlights of mine.
To watch Gavin and Penny holding back and not just say screw it all and try a relationship was excruciating at times because their love was so obvious but life always came in the way making years fly by but they always drifted back to one another. They truly were each other’s constants and best friends.

Blind Kiss is angst at its best. I really enjoyed Gavin and Penny’s story. I had my doubts as the story went on but Renee Carlino delivers flawlessly with a perfect ending. The last five chapters almost tore my heart out but that’s really what this talented author do best and I welcomed the hurt. The epilogue healed me and left me feeling content. If you want a story about unconditional love, friendship and angst then Blind Kiss is THAT BOOK.

4 BadAssDirtyLifetimeStars

**Blind Kiss generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,170 reviews25.3k followers
March 26, 2022
Holy shit I didn’t expect to love this as much as I did. Before We Were Strangers is one of my all time favorite books but Wish You Were Here was one of my least favorite books I've ever read, so I was torn whether or not I should read this one! I'm happy to say I really enjoyed this one! This is my favorite book from Renee Carlino since Before We Were Strangers!

This book follows Penny, a dancer and Gavin, a car mechanic. While in college they both participate in a psychological study on kissing blindfolded and whether or not you can feel attraction without seeing. They kiss and it's magical, and they become best friends after. This story takes place over fourteen years, and every chapter jumps back and forth in time from the past, to the now when Penny is married to another man and has a son.

The reason why I knocked off a star is because this story started off with a lot of insta-love. Gavin literally gets her phone number and email tattooed on him and does some other questionable things that made me roll my eyes, but over time he grew on me and I realized his over the top reactions is kind of part of his personality. Also, I feel like the ending was really rushed.

But other than that I actually kind of loved it. I felt a lot for these characters and this book actually made me laugh out loud multiple times because of Gavin and his strange sense of humor. (especially about recognizing Penny because of the sound of her ankles cracking LOL). This book actually reminded me a lot of Before We Were Strangers, it had a similar formula of a couple trying to find their way back to each other after 14 years and one of them has a kid and all that, but apparently this formula works for me because I really enjoyed it lol. I also liked how often music was mentioned throughout this book, and these characters like a lot of the same bands/artists that I do, like: The Cure, The National, Iron & Wine.

I'm really glad I took a chance on this book. It was surprisingly amazing. It has restored my faith in romance novels from Renee Carlino! Thank you to Atria Books for sending me a copy!
July 27, 2018
I'm not going to lie to you, THIS. BOOK. KILLS. As I sit here writing this review, my heart is still pounding out of my chest. I'm a burning pile of fiery rage and shaky nerves and conflicting thoughts and intense feelings at this very moment and I dont even know how to turn all of that into a coherent review. This book is INFURIATING. It's MADDENING. It takes ANGST and sexual tension and raw emotion and catapults it into another realm. I don't even have words to describe how angry and sad and desperate this book made me feel. Sure, it's also deliciously romantic and slow burning but the fact of the matter is that the longing and the fury and the heartbreak on these pages fought for center stage and won. Blind Kiss is on another level of angst and I can't even decide yet if that's good or bad.

I don't for a second want to deter anyone from reading this book (in fact, I highly recommend you do!) but I have strong feelings that all the reasons I loved this book are going to be the very same reasons other readers throw their kindles over it. I live for angsty reads that shatter my heart and infuriate me and make me want to scream. Angst is my jam. But even me, the angst addicted, drama loving, heartache craving reader that I am strongly recommends you stock up on alcohol while you read this book. Before, during, and yes, even after, you'll need a strong drink or nine to help you cope with the ULTIMATE roller coaster of emotions Renee Carlino will put you through on these pages. It's rough. It's brutal. It's worth it. 

This is a friends to lovers romance that will systematically shred your heart and soul through a proverbial meat grinder. Do I think you should read it anyway? Absolutely. Did I devour this book in one sitting? Yes, I did. Am I still angry about certain choices this author made on these pages? Hell yes. Will I sleep tonight? Highly unlikely. 

I'm still enraged. Even the sweet romantic sugary parts of this story have left me sore and achy and wounded. I suppose that's also what I loved most about it. All the things I hate about this story are also what I crave in a good book. I love to feel angry and torn and devastated and infuriated and lovesick and Renee Carlino delivers all of that. I also love when love prevails but the journey is impossibly difficult and unpredictable and riddled with pleasure pain and sensuality and drama. Blind Kiss checks all those boxes too. 

This book is going to have us all talking. This book is going to garner vastly different opinions. This book is going to haunt me. This book will hurt. This book is probably my new favorite from this author even though I haven't forgiven her for it yet. This book is gut wrenching and beautifully brilliant and shocking and full of the most tender moments and the most infuriating twists and you'll ABSOLUTELY feel ALL. THE. THINGS. I loved it and I hated it and that's also why I loved it so much. 
Profile Image for Dilek VT.
1,529 reviews1,337 followers
Shelved as 'not-interested'
April 18, 2018
I don't favor second chance romance and fourteen years' separation is such a waste of time. Her son is going to college and her marriage is falling apart. Nope, too late for me to be interested in their HEA. I would be frustrated at their stupid choices, decisions and the loss of time.
Profile Image for Ashley.
482 reviews213 followers
July 29, 2019
View this review and many more at: Ashes Books & Bobs.

ARC was generously provided through a Facebook giveaway in Renee’s fan group.

If you have been an avid reader for any length of time, you’re sure to have experienced the dreaded (possibly at times, coveted) book hangover. While I’ve read many awesome five star books this year, I’ve only experienced one book hangover until this point. Friends, I was drunk on Renee Carlino’s writing, straight up binge-reading-drunk on Blind Kiss. I started this book intending to read a couple chapters here and there throughout the day. Instead, I ended up completely finishing the entire novel in one day. After sleeping and expecting to move on with another book, I have been stuck in a rut — life feels pointless without Penny and Gavin. I miss them and wish the book didn’t have to end.

I don’t know how Renee writes one unputdownable book after the next, maybe she sprinkled a little love potion in my copy when she signed it (thank you, Renee), but I was in awe of how well this story flowed, much like the others in her collection. I went into this book blind (pun intended), with knowledge only of the Northern Colorado setting, and no expectations other than the hope for a great love story. I was rewarded with an epic friendship which danced the fine line between platonic companionship and a life-altering romance. The chemistry between the characters was incredibly intense and exciting to read. I loved experiencing Penny and Gavin’s story with both the present and past perspectives, allowing me to get to know them and understand their relationship more fully. I felt like I was hanging out in FoCo in my early twenties with these amazing friends I had made, not as if I was reading about fictional people in very real places.

The whole premise of this story starts with a psyche experiment between strangers: “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny and Gavin answer this question with a clear and resounding “YES!”. Immediately after sharing an earth-shattering kiss, Gavin nonchalantly asks Penny to go on a date with him at that very moment. What follows is an undeniable friendship, lots of funny innuendos, and a chastity belt (just kidding). Despite the unmatched chemistry these two share, Penny is determined to keep her friend as her friend. As life continues to move forward, their friendship remains, but their chance at love painfully begins to dwindle after one important decision is made.

This is the type of novel that is able to pull out every possible emotion from the reader. There were moments I was laughing, moments I wanted to shout “NO!”, times of tears, and instances where my stomach actually dropped to my ankles – AND I loved every heartwrenching second of it. There were moments the story felt a tad predictable, but I did not care in the slightest because I was completely engrossed in this book. Reading felt easy, fun, and as if I was watching one of my most-loved Rom-Coms for the fiftieth time. Speaking of movies, Hollywood needs to get their hands on the rights for a Renee Carlino screenplay. Her books would transfer to the screen better than works of many big-name authors, and Blind Kiss would a huge hit!

I can’t recommend this book enough if you’re someone who enjoys feeling all the feels and needs a good slow-burn romance, and easy read in your life. Renee nailed it! Pre-order this book now and enjoy it on August 14!

Omg. So good.
I’m so sad it’s over. I feel like I have nothing to do with my life now.
Profile Image for Angela (Reading Frenzy Book Blog).
925 reviews437 followers
August 9, 2018
The premise of Blind Kiss is intriguing, and I confess I expected there to be some angst. What I didn’t expect was for the book to leave me mentally exhausted and exasperated.

The book opens with high intensity in the present day. There’s so much raw emotion and crazy behavior that I couldn’t help but get sucked in. I wanted to know what led the characters to such a desperate point in their lives.

Rewind to fourteen years ago and we see how Penny and Gavin met. This was one of the most enjoyable parts of the book. They are paired up as subjects in a college psychology experiment that tests whether or not you can be physically attracted to someone you haven’t seen. It’s funny and sweet. Gavin’s quirky personality and caring nature are clear from the start, and I instantly fell in love. I was drawn to Penny’s complexity.

They rapidly become best friends who have a whole lot of sexual tension between them. I envied their strong bond. I understood Penny’s reasons for placing Gavin in the friend zone initially, but I grew weary of all the years of pining and denial. It stopped making sense after awhile. As the story flip flops between past and present, the characters are surrounded by toxic influences and are prone to melodrama.

Honestly, most of this soap opera is rather depressing and predictable. I felt tortured by and for these characters up until the extremely rushed ending. Ultimately, I was left drained and had a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m giving the book praise for the strong beginning and the writing style, but unfortunately it just didn’t live up to my expectations.
*I received an early copy of this book. It does not affect the content of my review.*
Reading Frenzy Book Blog
Profile Image for Jiana.
297 reviews821 followers
September 20, 2018
I’m so angry.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy!!

I love Renee Carlino's books. They remind me of CoHo's. However, this one was a disaster. The reason this book is 2 stars and not 1 is because Carlino's writing is still amazing and easy and because Gavin was a beautiful soul who deserved way better than selfish, whiny, dramatic Penny, the MC. Gavin reminded me so much of CoHo's male characters and that's why I loved him so much.

Ok my #1 issue in this book and I admit ruined the book greatly for me is Penny. I hate Penny. I hate her so much and I hope she falls off a cliff. She's lousy, she's selfish, she's dramatic and childish. She thinks the whole world revolves around her. She wants everyone to wait for her but she waits for no one. She wants everyone to view her as a priority when she literally just thinks of her own needs. I couldn't tolerate her decisions and her actions and I just wanted to throw my phone against the wall. My second issue with this book is the rushed ending. The purpose of the book is to frustrate you. To anger you about how Gavin and Penny loved each other so much yet they never got the chance to be together because of different circumstances coming and going. That's ok. But what's not okay is giving me a rushed 10 second ending and a lousy epilogue of their happy ending!!!!!!!!!!! I DID NOT TOLERATE PENNY'S CRAP BEHAVIOR AND THE ROLLER COASTER RELATIONSHIP OF THOSE TWO SO I WOULD GET A RUSHED ENDING.

*takes a deep breath*

I'm out. I need to start another book. I need to forget this book existed.
Profile Image for Betül.
970 reviews232 followers
August 13, 2018
**ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review**


4.5 stars

"I loved women, especially the weird ones. But Penny was more unique and talented and beautiful than any girl I had ever met."

The blurb is the perfect summary of this book. It all started with the blind kiss experiment, during which the sparks flew off of Penny and Gavin. I was intrigued to see how things between these two characters would develop. Normally, I love the dark and broody types, however I loved Gavin's dramatic and chaotic personality (not always though). Penny, was more serious, dedicated and had her life somewhat figured out. Gavin didn't really fit her plan that much, but she couldn't get rid of him. He was exciting and unpredictable, and I really enjoyed reading about his unique antics. Because we go back and forth into the past and presence, we already know that Penny and Gavin settle on being just friends. I wanted to see how these two came to make this difficult decision.

Were there times I was annoyed by the decisions made by both Penny and Gavin? YES! Especially, Penny made me angry at times at the decisions she made. She had her dramatic moments as well, which made me roll my eyes. However, would these two have made it if they got together when they first met? I have no idea. Blind Kiss was definitely angsty at times, but nothing I couldn't handle. Did I cry? Yes, I shed some tears, especially towards the end when my heart broke. I have a love/hate relationship with books that go back and forth between past and presence, however, I think it fit this story very well. I really enjoyed this story a lot, and I was hooked to the story until the end. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was because of the last quarter of the book. In my opinion there should've been more chapters, to have me fully enjoy the story. Everything kind of came together too perfectly and then it was finished. It left me a bit unsatisfied to be honest. However, the rest of the story was beautiful, original and heartbreaking at times. I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Wendy'sThoughts.
2,632 reviews3,208 followers
August 17, 2018
3.5 Own Worst Enemy Stars
* * * 1/2 Spoiler Free
Think About it...You are blindfolded, standing in front of a man or woman and you will be kissing them without seeing what they look like. There will be a quick hello, your senses will take in the scents around you, the intensity of what you hear and when the hands of this person touches your body at your waist...how will you respond...

Will lips be soft and coaxing...
Or will they be demanding...
Will you want more instinctively...
Or will you shut down and push away, thrilled to get it over...

This is the hook and start of Blind Kiss by Renee Carlino.

On March 10, 2014 a filmmaker, Tatia PIlieva, published her YouTube video called First Kiss. She took twenty people, some where actors-some not, had them meet on camera and then do a First Kiss. They were at first shy, embarrassed, curious and then enthusiastic in their talking with each other before "doing the deed". We watched how some had immediate chemistry and others eh...There was one couple that looked like they were ready to take it to the next level.

When I first saw this book and the blurb, I immediately remember this video and that couple. I hoped they were the inspiration. Here is the video:

Renee Carlino is a favorite author of mine. This time she wrote a book which will put you through the ringer. She presents a love between two people which spans decades and confusion they have about acting on it. One participant is too scared to risk giving her love freely and will cloak it as a best friendship she desperately needs.. The other does love freely, wants this relationship to be what it should... but is willing to be placed in this best friend roll in order to stay close.

Both have a weakness for the other and dance this very difficult emotional tightrope of clinging to this critical relationship through all of the ups and downs in their lives. This relationship withstands the marriage of one and the other intimate relationships of the other, resulting in a bond that will be tested time and time again.

The writing is as strong as Carlino has done but be prepared the angst level is extreme and is for those who are willing to go through an emotional roller coaster and run the gamut of all their feelings to receive the satisfying end. If that is your jam, then is up your alley.

A gifted copy was provided by Atria Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

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Profile Image for AJ.
2,802 reviews912 followers
August 12, 2018
2 ‘self-inflicted-angstfest’ stars

This story is a hot mess. An angst-ridden ‘romance’ riddled with bad decisions, unnecessary heartache and a whole lot of frustration. There are readers out there who will love it, for me, it was hours of my life spent mostly eye-rolling and I finished it with an overall feeling of ‘meh’. So forgive me while I purge my feels.

Me while reading:

I was wary going into this book seeing how others were reacting to it, but I’m a big fan of Renee’s and was curious enough to give it a try. It started off promisingly. We meet Penny and Gavin when they are in their 40s, best friends since college who clearly mean more to each other than just the friends they are pretending to be.

He held me for a long time. When he started to release me, I said, “It’s not enough.”
He picked me up again and squeezed me harder. Tucking his face into my neck, he said, “It’ll never be enough.”

Penny and Gavin met in college. Penny, a 21-year-old who was a bit lost emotionally, but was absolutely focussed on a career in dance, and Gavin, a 23-year-old who was confident, natural and laid back, spontaneous and a bit chaotic. They both signed up for a psych experiment to share a kiss while blindfolded to see if attraction can exist without seeing each other. In their case, it was a definite yes. Their brief moment together is full of chemistry, and sparks something in both of them, but while Gavin is ready to go full speed ahead, Penny wants to focus on her dance and asks for time. So they enter into the emotional purgatory of best-friends-who-want-more-but-can’t/won’t-have-it.

I walked up to her, wrapped my arms around her waist, and kissed her neck. She didn’t move. I made eye contact with her in the mirror. “Why can’t it be more?” I whispered.
She shook her head. I couldn’t read her expression. “This isn’t enough for you, is it?” she asked.
“I want all of you.”

They both hoped for a ‘one day’ for them, but life and stupid decisions get in their way, derailing their plans for something more, and sending their lives in directions that neither of them anticipated.

The timeframe moves between the present, 14 years ago to their early relationship, and then to the nine months leading up to the present, alternating between Penny and Gavins’ POVs. It may sound complex, but it works really well, giving us a great picture of the different aspects of Penny and Gavin, and their complicated relationship.

And OMG, what a relationship! It can be summed up by this quote:

“I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m trying to keep you close.”
“I know, but it hurts to be this close.”


Renee Carlino writes wonderfully emotional stories, and I’m sure a lot of readers will find this book emotional and angsty, feeling all of the ups and downs that Penny and Gavin experience over the years. But I just couldn’t connect with it. I could see that they were hurting, and I wish things could have been different for them, but it was all their own fault so I didn’t feel much at all. Bottom line - if they truly wanted to be together, they should have fought for it. Instead, for whatever reason, they let go too easily and then spent the whole book wallowing in the consequences of their continuous bad decisions. Call me harsh but I have very little sympathy for that kind of stupidity.

And I couldn’t get behind two people who were so clearly carrying on an emotional affair with each other for years and years even though they were both in committed relationships with other people. I have no tolerance for that when they so easily could have done something about it, and sadly it made them both pretty unlikeable for me.

There are a lot of ups and downs for them over the years, and after all of the turmoil, the ending comes quickly, feeling really rushed. And though it ends well, by that point I had run out of fucks to give and I really didn’t care whether they ended up together or not.

I want to reinforce that these are just my personal ramblings. I’m not the most tolerant person, and stupid behaviour like this just ticks me off. There’s no denying that Renee Carlino is a very talented writer, and she’s done a great job putting this story together. It’s just not for me.

2 stars.

An Advanced Review Copy was generously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for *TANYA*.
1,002 reviews280 followers
April 21, 2019
Yeah, this book had many of the clichés that frustrate me about a romance story. The back and forth, indecision’s, missed opportunities because of miscommunication and yet it worked for me. I was ready to give up on it, in fact I had started it and then set it aside. The bestie said I had to read it, and so I did and I loved it.
Profile Image for Grey.
448 reviews41 followers
August 10, 2018
Buckle up, friends. You realize it's 2 a.m. here on the East Coast, right? I finished this book almost an hour ago, but can't sleep... So now, you all are going to be the lucky recipients of a Goodreads rant/review, because my feelings are *ALL* over the map here.

First, the good...well, to me, the great and super important... Spotify playlist! However, heads up ~ the original playlist has some songs that are no longer playable, they are greyed out. I did, of course, make a new playlist because I need to completely submerse myself in the experience. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy... And an aural treat to enjoy!

Second, thank you to Netgalley for sending me this ARC to review prior to release day. The publisher has noted that this is not a completely proofed/edited copy and is subject to change so we should not quote passages without checking with them first. Which is good that they threw that in... I applaud it when they own the fact, knowing that there are still some places that needed to be polished up before the big release. But, I'm sad because I can't quote any larger passages in my review...*kicks rocks*

Now, for my actual review. This is touchy because I was fully engaged in this book. I did reaction updates here on goodreads... But in the essence of my rules about NO spoilers, I'm going to be rather cryptic about this.

I'd like you all to try a "fun" exercise with me. Imagine you have a panel of meters that indicate your feelings. This is my game, so my meter has the following meters; love, hate, smut, frustration, and angst. Yep, frustration and angst have their own meters and when you read the book you'll understand why. The meters go from 0-10, right? For me, I started reading and started turning the angst knob, just a little at first, but it was on, right from the beginning. But we add more characters, so let's turn on some new knobs...like frustration. Turn it up to 8... Leave it there. 55% of the book, I'm ready to check myself into a chocolate rehab, (is that a thing? Judging by the wrappers I had piled up, should have been...) Which cracks up both of my already turned on meters, oh look?!? Frustration, it's maxed out. It kicked on a new meter, usually this only comes on in extreme situations. It's the #wine meter. Luckily, I came prepared. Pink Moscato saved the day. (When the wine meter is activated, it comes standard, usually with Kleenex and Manny) Tears...oh yeah, I called for Manny.

Whew, that was difficult to explain! Now, I think you all understand... I felt alllll of the feels. I was mad, sad, and real pissed, did I mention I was mad yet? Gah. There were parts of this book I really, truly loved... It was very well-written. The side characters are used in such a way that you care about them... They add to the story, rather than detract. However, I got a bit fired up, obviously, even though I am deliberately being obtuse...I always have a problem with huge time jumps... I understand that things can't always be tied up in a bow *wink*, but ... Hmph, enough about that. And uh, the ending... Uh, what? Wow. Pretty abrupt.

So...here you go, my long winded thoughts about my latest read. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Liber_Lady.
419 reviews110 followers
July 8, 2018

Let me start by saying that this was my first Renee Carlino book. Yes. Shocking. I have heard a lot about this author and I had pretty high hopes from this one. But, I am definitely with the unpopular opinion here.

This book was a Gigantic case of FRIEND-ZONED FOREVER SYNDROME.

Gavin is the guy who has earned 1.5 out of the 2 stars that I rated. He was the guy who sailed hard till the end before the ship sunk for me. (Fuck I'm being brutal :-( ) He was THE PERFECT GUY you could fall for. He was perfectly imperfect. He had his insecurities, his mood swings and manwh*re ways. But, he was the sweetest and the most understanding and rock solid guy in the book. He was funny and charming and could easily lift a sad person's mood. He was also extremely loyal and fell in love too easily. But, he had one weakness. PENNY.

Penny sucked the joy out of this book for me. She is the queen of bad decisions and stupidity that I have ever read. I understand that she was a teenager at the time some important decisions were made. But, fuck. On one hand, she was a lonely dancer, while on the other hand, she had kept two guys on the hook for years.

This book has 3 timelines. Present, 14 years ago and 9 months ago. Today, Penny is married to her husband with a 14 yr old genius kid, who is off to MIT. In her 14 years of marriage, she has been married to one guy and is best friend with another guy, Gavin. This book started with stupid insecurities and bad decisions and it went on like that for 92% of the book. This book is not a love triangle. But Penny and Gavin went back and forth (mostly Penny. She had friend-zoned Gavin so deep,it wasn't funny) God, I am so mad at her. She was the most insecure and indecisive character I have ever read. The smartest person in the book was her husband, who finally did the deal.

All this book taught me was to NEVER BE LIKE PENNY.

I am sorry guys, I know there are people in the world who have had to give up their love and make taught choices for the sake of your family. And I respect their choices. But, making these choices out of fear of being alone and not having the balls to end it when you know you are not happy, you shouldn't keep people on the hook for 14 years..
Profile Image for Pavlina Read more sleep less blog  .
2,434 reviews4,554 followers
August 14, 2018
4 stars

What a refreshing and intense story.From the first pages I was hooked and intrigued.Blind Kiss was another fantastic read from Renee Carliino, if you love angst and slow burn them this is for you!


Gavin and Penny meet during an experimental study in college where they both agreed to kiss a total stranger while blindfolded in order to test their physical chemistry. They have great connection these two.The concept was brilliant I haven't read anything like this one.

Gavin and Penny's story is unique and get ready for an intense and angsty ride.Because these two will drive you crazy in a good way.


Profile Image for Halime   Yazıcı Mimaroğlu .
738 reviews52 followers
August 17, 2018
I dont want to mention lots of things about this book. Conclusion if you want to see how a writer can write a novel you will hate just read it!!!

Yani kitabı bitirdim hala öfkem geçmedi. Bir yazar nasıl olur da berbat bir kitap yazabilirim diye uğraşmış olmalı ki başarmış. Karakterler birbirine kavuşamasın diye tüm entrikaları içine yerleştirmiş kitabın.
Zamanıma yazık!!!!!
Profile Image for Jamie Rosenblit.
866 reviews491 followers
August 14, 2018
Since I stumbled upon Before We Were Strangers, Carlino has become a must read author for me. The minute her books make their way to me, I must devour them immediately. Three years after reading Strangers, I’m still quick to recommend it to friends!

Unfortunately, this was not those books for me. While still interesting and a fast read, the relationship between Penny and Gabe was so drawn out that I just couldn’t root for them majority of the time. And the abrupt ending was kind of frustrating.

Will I still read more Carlino, of course! But this one just wasn’t my favorite, sadly.
Profile Image for Sarah/DragonflyReads.
676 reviews160 followers
August 14, 2018
 photo DE617CC4-20A5-47F7-9644-ABB63F4D5151.jpg


”A decade’s worth of secrets and half-truths were crashing down on me as I stood in the cold, facing my husband of fourteen years and standing next to the love of my life. Who was I willing to hurt for more? Who was I willing to hurt more?”

Hey Sarah, what’s your favorite book of the year? Easy. BLIND KISS and it just released today! This was my first Renée Carlino book. I read this ARC a couple of months ago and it’s stuck with me since. I’m a forgetful person, I’ll admit that. Penny and Gavin’s story is so unique and sad and hopeful and beautiful, I know it’s going to stick with me for years to come. I was on the edge of my seat for the last few chapters, truly unknowing how this beautiful story will end and when it did, I couldn’t help but sit back in pure bliss. The best feeling.
Profile Image for Heather❀Kiss The Pages❀.
703 reviews268 followers
August 15, 2018
I went into this blind and didn't even read the blurb. Well, I got the full effect of this emotional second chance romance. I'll be honest, I struggled with how to rate this book because I didn't know how I felt about the sequence of events. I still don't even know if I like the main characters. At the end of the day, I decided that any book that had me in such an emotional turmoil deserves a high rating.

Penny and Gavin have the best kind of relationship! The chemistry was there from the start. From that first blind kiss, it was obvious to both of them and everyone around them that they had that spark. They also fall into an easy camaraderie and become best friends. Gavin pursues Penny but she fights their romantic connection and puts him in the friend zone. Her reasons seem very silly to me and years later her older self acknowledges that.

This is a book of regret and 'what ifs'. If both Gavin and Penny made different choices, their lives would have taken different paths. It hurt to see them both unhappy when you know they could have had it all. I think this is where I struggled with this book but ultimately this is their love story. It's messy and full of mistakes but if they are brave enough, maybe they could get their second chance.

This book spans over years and I think this made it even more painful because I just kept thinking, LOOK HOW MUCH TIME YOU LOST! Like I said, my feelings were all over the place with this one. You may like it or hate it but you WILL FEEL! This I can promise you. Not every love story is simple and straightforward. Some are confusing and painful with flawed characters that will frustrate you and this one falls exactly in that category.

If you want to experience a myriad of emotions, try this friends to lovers, second chance romance.

4 Stars
Contemporary Romance
Heat Level: Mild
POV: Dual


Stalking is encouraged!

September 5, 2018
4.5 ⭐'s

“No, Penny, you’re not my Carissa or Lottie or Kimber. You’re my everything.”

Angst lovers you don’t want to miss this book!

Let's start with the rating...for me it’s always hard to rate a book that’s four, four point five or five stars. I sometimes get hung up on semantics and the other times I just have to go with my gut feeling. What makes a book a five star? Does it always have to meet all of your requirements or does it just have to make you feel good?

I guess I can say the reason this didn’t meet all of my requirements is because there was a lot of angst in the beginning and the middle and almost to the end. I just really needed more romance. These two were so good together and it was obvious by how everyone could see it. As you know, I love angst but sometimes books can go overboard. There has to be a balance and that’s what was lacking for me.

I loved how Gavin and Penny meet. It reminded me that video that we’ve all seen going around...the one with strangers kissing. Penny is freaked out...she wants Gavin but she gets hung up on something her Dad said. And since she's sorely lacking in the friend department, she decides that Gavin will be her best friend.


The story is told with a lot of those fun filled time jumps that I love so much (not). As always, it's a little confusing in the beginning. We find out that Penny is in an unhappy marriage, her son is going off to MIT and she never fulfilled her dream of opening a dance studio. Then we're whisked back into the past...fourteen years ago.

That's when we first meet Gavin...the stranger. He's something else - a bit flighty but not about how he feels about Penny...right from the beginning. But he gets scared when she friend zones him...he doesn't want to lose her so he just accepts it.

This leads to a lot of angst and angst worthy moments especially when you think if these two would just talk - but then we find out something else. (Like whom Penny's husband is...not exactly a surprise.) A few of these moments were heart breaking specifically when something happens to someone Gavin loves. That was a killer!

There are some great side characters. I loved Penny's friend, Ling, (she really needs her own book) and the transformation of Penny's sister, Kiki, was pretty amazing. (I wouldn't mind a book about her either.)

It was a long time coming but I loved how things ended up. And it was perfect how Renee Carlino wrote the epilogue.
Profile Image for Christine (Shh Moms Reading).
1,292 reviews538 followers
July 31, 2018
4.5 "oh how I love me some angst" STARS!

I love the heart palpitations that come from high-angst situations and Blind Kiss nearly KILLED ME but in an oh so delicious way!

You see our hero and heroine met in the most unlikely of situations—being in a blind kiss experiment testing whether or not you can have chemistry if you don't know what the other person looks like. When Penny and Gavin kiss and officially meet, it's awe-inspiring, magical... kismet... fate! *le sigh*

But fate has other plans... Penny is now in a loveless marriage with a beautiful son almost off to college, no longer a dancer, but still best friends with her beloved Gavin. Gavin who I completely LOVED upon meeting, who has stuck with her through thick and thin, through marriage, through heartbreak and happy times, all the while loving this woman from afar. I can't even tell you how this literally killed me... experiencing him sing the song he wrote for her on her wedding day, being the dependable good friend he has always been but wanting what he can't have. Oh my freaking heart!!! Let's not even talk about when he dates other women because HE IS MEANT FOR PENNY! I just couldn't wrap my arms around him being with someone else when I just wanted them to be together!!

But neither are perfect and mistakes and miscommunications are meant to be had...

This love story spans over 14 years of friendship and love. I'll be honest and admit that it will completely put you through the wringer. But it is a beautiful story nonetheless because readers will wait with bated breath for these two friends who have always loved each other to find the right time for THEM, to move past the mistakes and the consequences that kept them apart, and to find their happily ever after.

I love friends to more stories especially when it's the soulmate kind of love where you know in your heart that the characters are meant to be. There was never any doubt that Penny and Gavin would eventually find their way to one another but it was just a matter of finding the right time and this journey, while heartbreaking at times, is truly a beautiful story of longing for that forever love.

Readers who love angst, who love the back and forth of not knowing what will happen but love the experience of that heart-pounding love should pick up this book... Blind Kiss is the PERFECT summer read that will make your heart so very happy in the end. <3
May 27, 2018
♥♥ 4.5 Forever Stars ♥♥

Reactions while reading...


Okay sorry for the overload but seriously as I type this I am an emotional wreck. I should know not to read this trope by now and I literally asked for it (holla at ya, NetGalley ♥), but I'm barely holding everything in right now.

This barely qualifies as a second-chance romance; it's one of those star-crossed lovers stories where you're anxiety levels are through the roof the entire time you're reading because even though you kind of know the characters will end up together, there are just too many missed chances. I mean, years go by. Hello?! I just can't handle this.

Penny and Gavin are beyond perfect for each other, and for some stupid reasons when they were young college kids, they never took the leap to be together. Basically the next fourteen years is spent in denial and settling for being best friends, while they try to find where they fit in life.

If you can't tell, this was a highly emotional read for me. I don't normally read a book in a matter of hours, but all the angst left me with no choice. The only reason this isn't five starts is because the ending felt rushed, and excuse me for saying this, but I wanted to see more of them together as a couple! This is a phenomenally written story of two people who know what love is without having a romantic relationship for a long time. It warmed me up inside and broke my heart at the same time to see how far Penny and Gavin will go for each other while denying themselves. Be ready for an emotional ride!
Profile Image for RentasticReads.
699 reviews176 followers
August 17, 2018
“I wish it were you, Penny.”

I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t think I’ve stopped crying since I hit about 40% of this book. I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t stop turning the pages and feeling everything. This book has certainly put my heart and soul through the wringer and I’m emotionally spent. Hell, tears are still streaming down my swollen and puffy eyes even as I’m writing this. Blind Kiss is definitely one of the BEST and a TOP READ of 2018! It just deserves all the damn stars in the galaxy.

Whenever I’m reading a book by Renée Carlino, I make sure that I brace myself for the massive onslaught of feels and that I’m prepared to drown in tears—not only for when I’m immersed in the story, but even for days and weeks after. Because that’s how potent her words are and the impact they have on you. The story will just stay with you for a long time, and hit you right where it hurts and matters the most. And this is exactly what I’m going through right now, fresh off of turning the last page of Penny and Gavin’s book.

“I was just thinking about what it would be like.”
“How what would be like?” I had asked.
“If you and I had ended up together.”

They say love is friendship set on fire. But Penny and Gavin’s friendship? It wasn’t only on fire—it was a blazing inferno that could burn the whole world down. Their relationship was so uniquely theirs. Their intimacy might've been platonic, but the connection they had was completely real and bone-deep. For a person looking from the outside, it can really be easily misconstrued. They were the only ones who truly understood the extent and gravity of their relationship, but I think that’s what made it so much more special. And as years passed, it only got stronger, more intense and unbreakable.

Every sacrifice they’ve made gutted me. Flayed me wide open and ripped me to shreds. I may have not agreed with every single decision each of them made, but I got them. Going through this journey with Gavin and Penny was so incredibly tough—a vast understatement—but I don’t regret a single second of bawling my eyes out. Because these two just showed me and proved to me that sometimes, life just has other plans for us. How timing will not always be on our side. But if something is truly meant to be, then you’ll just have to be patient and never give up.

“Life will change and change again. You just have to find a port in this storm. It doesn’t have to be another person, Penny. Find something just for you.”

Blind Kiss will leave you with one of the biggest book hangovers you’ll ever experience. And honestly, I’m not even complaining. Because this page-turner was absolutely something I didn’t know I needed. I took so much of it to heart—all the lessons, the heartache, just everything that Penny and Gavin went through from the very beginning. It’s all going to be tucked safely and perfectly in a special place in my heart.

Gut-wrenchingly beautiful and emotionally poignant, Blind Kiss is undoubtedly an unforgettable tale of not just love, loss and longing, but also of life-changing moments and an extraordinary kind of friendship that lasts beyond a lifetime. It will break down your walls, shake you to the core, and leave your heart beating anew. If you have to choose one book to read this year, let it be this one.

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August 12, 2018
If I had to choose two words to describe the plot of Blind Kiss, it would be a massive case of bad timing. I’d add a side of stubbornness and stupidity but that’s me being picky about the heroine.

I’d noticed prior to reading this book, that readers were really frustrated with these two MCs. If you’re a fan of instant gratification, versus longer, more drawn out build to your love stories, Blind Kiss might have you throwing your kindle against a wall... just saying. I tend to get really pissy when authors string things along or use contrived drama to keep me from getting my happily ever after, but with Blind Kiss, I was pleasantly not as annoyed as I thought I’d be. I think the credit goes to Renee Carlino in making their story fairly realistic. Don’t get me wrong, our heroine, Penny, isn’t my favorite character in the world and if I could’ve reached into my kindle and shook some sense into her, I would have. The hero in this story, Gavin, was by far, my favorite character. He too, not without mistakes, but a little less annoying.

This book is a giant case of friends who love each other but one is just not willing to “go there” for fear of losing their best friend. They meet each other as volunteers in a psychology college study, an experiment on human nature purse se, where two complete strangers are blindfolded, put into a room and told to kiss each other. No visuals to affect their chemistry, just sound of their voice, smell, and taste. Is chemistry about visual or do we even need to see a person to connect at that higher level?

One thing Renee Carlino excels at is finding refreshingly different plot lines not ever used by other authors. It brings to light ways people connect apart from the “guy meets girl and fall in love” tropes. Be it Before We Were Strangers centering on a Craigslist Missed Connection ad or a college psychology project in Blind Kiss, I love her ability to conjure up human connections that transcend the common plotlines.

Renee Carlino captured me as a reader with Sweet Thing many years ago and I’d have to say those two characters, if you’ve read that book, remind me very much of these two in Blind Kiss. Gavin is as endearing, humorous, loving, but a bit of a man-child. Our heroine, Penny, the more ‘responsible,’ in her head, and utterly strangle-able (is that even a word) at times.

I love a book that’ll instill a plethora of feelings and Blind Kiss will deliver THAT, in spades!

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