Published by Atria on 08/14/2018
"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 [a] 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."
I’ve been a huge Renée Carlino fan for years. Her writing is some of my favorite ever. But while Blind Kiss was fairly enjoyable at times, it just didn’t live up to what I’ve come to expect from Carlino.
I kind of liked the second chance romance aspect – life is messy and rarely goes according to plan. The longing in this book is palpable. But I did kind of feel like at some point it started to become overkill. It was just bad luck after bad luck and I got very frustrated with the main characters, Penny and Gavin. It was unfortunate situation after unfortunate situation, followed by poor decision making and I got kind of fed up a time or two.
The writing was also not what I’ve come to expect from Carlino. She’s usually great at packing a strong emotional punch with even the simplest of words, but I felt like this book was too simple, if that makes any sense. The writing seemed sort of stilted and surface level. I felt like I was just being shown in the simplest of terms what was happening. Like a narrator describing a Tuesday afternoon. There wasn’t much depth or feeling, aside from a couple specific scenes.
I think maybe I just had a difficult time connecting with this one. Like I said though, I’m a huge fan of Renée’s, and I think maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this one. All in all, I would say I enjoyed it, I just wanted a bit more. If you’ve never read Carlino before, then I would suggest starting with another book, however, I do think that perhaps there is an audience for Blind Kiss – maybe it’s you.
Renée is my boo. I love her. Many of her previous titles have been some of my favorite reads ever (see: Before We Were Strangers, Swear on This Life, Wish You Were Here). Blind Kiss though? While I did breeze right through it, I think my own personal hype got the best of me.
I loved the premise: strangers who share a blindfolded kiss. I loved this scene and Renee did a fantastic job portraying their hesitation, their chemistry and their resulting surprise of the whole situation.
Beyond that initial meeting though, the characters just kind of argued with on another the whole time. SO MUCH tension. I felt like Penny took and took and took and Gavin just let it happen over and over. I don’t know if you’d call their relationship codependent, but I think maybe yes? They were a mess that couldn’t get their shit together. I could see how much they cared for one another but Penny was such an ass and so selfish. Really, what was her deal anyway? Still unsure on that one. I felt bad for Gavin for most of the story.
I’m a sucker for dialogue. When characters really dish it out, go back and forth, have deep, revealing conversations. And there is a lot of dialogue in Blind Kiss, however, I think it might have been too much. Or, there isn’t enough emotional introspection on Gavin or Penny’s part to really balance it out or give it more meaning.
And maybe I blew through it so quickly because it was paced too quickly? I know I felt really unresolved about the ending. The conflict resolution jumps several years later with little explanation. Actually, I think the story arc was unbalanced for me. The characters and their relationship, for all they’d emotionally carried for so long, deserved something more.
I didn’t really dislike it, I have more of an unresolved feeling about it. I wanted to love it, the premise was great and it had some enjoyable moments, but Blind Kiss wouldn’t be my go to Renée Carlino recommendation. Have you read it? What did you think?