Review: Nowhere But Here by Renee Carlino

My Thoughts

A perfect, heartfelt romance.
Nowhere But Here is a love story filled with goodness and heart, sexiness and sweetness. It left me grinning widely and feeling warmly.

5stars

Synopsis

nowhere but hereA Chicago reporter in her mid-twenties unexpectedly finds love in Napa Valley when she’s assigned to spend a week with a famously reclusive genius.

Kate Corbin has lost her spark. From the outside, her life seems charmed. She has a handsome, long-term boyfriend and a budding journalism career at a popular Chicago newspaper. But in reality, her relationship is going nowhere, and she’s quickly losing motivation for what she once believed was her dream job. When her boyfriend dumps her unceremoniously, Kate loses all hope of finding love.

With no living family and few friends, Kate confides in her boss. Trusting that the hungry, ace reporter is buried somewhere deep inside, he gives Kate the opportunity to jumpstart her career. The assignment: to interview the famously reclusive R.J. Lawson, a wealthy tech genius who disappeared years ago but recently reemerged as a Napa Valley vintner. The week takes an unexpected turn, however, when Lawson refuses to divulge any information. Desperate for a lead, Kate turns to Jamie, a vineyard hand who shows her the romance of wine country—and stirs her aching heart. But his connection to Lawson is ambiguous, and when Jamie disappears before the end of the week, Kate is left to investigate another story: the truth behind the man who stole her heart.

My Review

“There’s nowhere but here. Nothing else matters.”

I loved so many things about this novel. It felt like a true romance. The kind that sweeps you off your feet and leaves your heart full and happy. I’ve been reading too many books where the characters are so deeply flawed and impossibly broken that it felt refreshing to immerse myself in a story where the characters were simply falling in love. Yes, their past had not been hearts and rainbows, but their story truly centered around the romance. The love. The fateful encounter that would change the course of their lives. I devoured the book in one sitting and it left me grinning widely and feeling a wonderful sense of fullness at the story’s full-circle end.

“There’s no one to take care of me, no matter how many people surround me. I’m all I’ve got.”

Kate Corbin has been feeling a little lost lately. Shaken by a recent death, she leans on her boyfriend to fill the gaping sense of loss inside. Nonetheless, every time she needs him even in the smallest way, he seems to be so absorbed by his own life that there’s simply no room for her. Kate, however, clings to him because he’s someone in her life that hasn’t left her. That claims to love her. She’s floating through life looking to fill that hole inside, looking for inspiration, for something more to spark life once again. Her writing is suffering too. So when her boss gives her an assignment that can change everything around, she hops on a plane to Napa Valley in hopes of scoring the interview of a lifetime with a reclusive genius-turned-vintner, and just maybe, something more to set her on the right path.

“You’ve lost your spark, Kate. Don’t come home until you find it.”

But as with all good intentions, her stay in Napa begins with a crash. Literally. She plows her rental car into a pickup driven by a beautiful man, a worker, at the winery. And then, her interview with R.J. Lawson goes horribly wrong. He turns out to be a complete ass. On the plus side, the estate is breathtaking… every detail re-engineered to be sustainable, enjoyable and unforgettable. She experiences the innovative allure of the winery next to Jamie, the man whom she surreptitiously crashed into. Jamie turns out to be this amazing person… hardworking, deep, smart and entirely unsettling. Every look and every gaze they exchange is charged with an unexpected chemistry. But with a boyfriend at home, she’s determined to behave. Yet his words and actions show the kind of caring she hasn’t seen in a long time. The kind that begins to fill that hole inside.

“Just being your friend is going to be hard, but I’ll try. It’s just that… I like you. You’re witty and sweet, and you happen to be the most  infinitely beautiful woman I’ve ever met.”

When Kate’s boyfriend dumps her over the phone, however, suddenly her time at the vineyard… her time with Jamie, is full of possibilities. She’s scared to take the leap… to surrender to what she’s grown to feel so quickly… to be once again tossed aside by somebody else. Surrounded by beauty, wine, food and Jamie, she gives in to the experience that feels so intrinsically right.

“Food is like love, you know?… We need it to stay alive… And wine is like poetry.”

Jamie is a man with a huge heart, who works hard, who cares deeply. He’s so taken by Kate and so quickly, the thought of losing her seems unbearable. And when they both give in to their feelings, everything in his life shines brightly next to this direct, witty, beautiful woman…

“You were the light coming toward me as I stood in the darkness.”

… until everything comes crashing down one night. And in a snap, Kate is back to a life that now seems emptier than ever, while Jamie is nowhere to be found. Everything unravels as secrets are exposed and a different kind of heartache consumes.

“Who would want me? I was a shell of a person, plain and simple, not worth coming home to.”

This story really evoked so many emotions in just the right balance. There was romance and hope and angst and sadness. I absolutely loved the setting that gave way to so many memorable experiences for these characters. Renee Carlino gives us a full-circle kind of novel that is already one of my favorites of the year. Bookended by a wonderful epilogue that had me smiling so so big, this was just a book that delivered in all the ways that count. I highly recommend you grab this book for it’s refreshingly romantic story line.

“There is nowhere else in the world I would rather be than by your side. Nowhere but here do I feel as whole and most genuinely me.”

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