Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: Nowhere But Here by Renee Carlino

A jaded Chicago reporter in her twenties unexpectedly finds love in Napa Valley when she’s assigned to spend a week with a famously reclusive genius in this rich and deeply satisfying contemporary romance by the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing.

Kate Corbin has lost her spark. A year ago, she had a handsome boyfriend and a budding career as a reporter at a popular Chicago newspaper. But after the woman who raised her passed away, leaving her lost and alone, she fell into a rut—and never got out. Now she’s stuck writing fluff pieces about lipstick and wine, and feeling trapped in a relationship that’s going nowhere.

Trusting that the hungry, ace reporter is buried somewhere deep inside, Kate’s boss and mentor gives her the opportunity to jump-start her career. The assignment: spend a week interviewing R. J. Lawson, a famously reclusive tech genius who disappeared years ago but recently reemerged as the owner of a well-respected Napa Valley winery.

Kate jumps at the chance, but the trip begins in disaster, both personally and professionally. After alienating R.J., her only saving grace is Jamie, a charming vineyard hand who shows her the beauty of wine country—and stirs her aching heart. It doesn’t take long for Kate and Jamie to fall hard, and for Kate to rethink her life in the city. But the week ends with a heartbreaking journey back to Chicago that sends Kate reeling, wondering what went wrong in those four perfect days.

4.5 Star Review by Jennifer Hagen

Ms. Carlino’s previous novel, Sweet Thing, was a 2013 favorite of mine.  If you loved Will in Sweet Thing, you will love Jamie in Nowhere But Here.  Ms. Carlino has taken a simple man and added a multitude of dimension to turn him into a character you can’t help but fall in love with. 

Kate is a 26-year-old journalist stuck in a rut with her life and job.  Kate’s mother passed away when she was just 8 years old, she has never known the identity of her father, and the only other person in her life raising her since her mother’s death has recently passed away.   She feels alone and seems to be following the mantra of an old man on the train every morning who proclaims “you’re all you’ve got.”  Kate has never had anybody to rely upon.  Her boyfriend of 2 years may be successful in his career, but when it comes to loving and respecting Kate he is a complete loser.  He still orders her chicken when she clearly has made it known that she is a vegetarian!  The only time he pays attention to her is when they have sex in the laundry room of their apartment building.  She deserves so much more, but in Kate’s eyes this is as good as it is going to get and she should be happy settling for it.

Kate used to be spunky at her work place.  She would come up with activities and events at her job that would have her co-workers smiling and laughing.  She has lost her creative flow while wallowing in her realization that she is all she has in her life.  Kate’s boss sends her out to interview the reclusive winery owner, RJ Lawson, who was once a teen techno prodigy.

When she arrives at the winery, she runs head first (figuratively speaking) into Jamie.  Jamie is the handyman at the winery and is so full of zest for life.  He seems to be a simple man, basking in the everyday tasks needed to keep the winery functioning at its best.   The interview with RJ is far from successful, and RJ comes across as pretentious and arrogant.

“Let’s head to the tasting room, unless of course you want to skip that part, go straight to my room, and perhaps get a little more personal information on R.J. Lawson?”…can you say ewww???

At least there’s Jamie to enlighten Kate on the winery and what makes it successful.  Jamie is an easy person to get along with.  He is happy performing his simple duties on the winery, and his duties include a variety of sorts.  Jamie’s happiness can’t be held back and it is easily transferred onto everybody around him.  He and Kate know each other for only 4 days, but the passion that they ignite together shoots flames off the pages.  Jamie is tight lipped regarding his past, and he has a mother bear looking out for him.

“He’s experienced great personal loss and betrayal by the people who were supposed to love him.  He’s found a home and a family in this place.”

Everything can’t be happy for an entire book though, right?  There’s no angst in that and we all want angst!  Do not be alarmed…it’s coming!  And when it does, your heart will break but you won’t know who to give your tears to.  Just when you want to stay mad at Jamie he can say these words and make us hope he can win the girl back.

“Whatever happens will be up to you, but I’ll be a different man if I can’t have you.  I will never breathe as deeply as I did when I was with you.  I’ll never see the range of color on a perfectly cloudless sky.”

And this is why you will love Jamie…he is simple but loves hard.  And in the midst of heartache, Kate comes to realize that she is not alone, she has family in the form of people who care about her surrounding her at all times.

I truly enjoyed this book and I’m certain that Ms. Carlino will be featured on my 2014 favorite list.  The story pulls deep within to your heart and soul and doesn’t let go.  Beautifully done Ms. Carlino!!  I look forward to more of your writings.


Renée Carlino lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog, June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. To learn more, visit

Find Renee online

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