Blind Kiss, by Renee Carlino
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Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: August 14, 2018
Length: 336 pages
Times Read: Once
Rating: Blindly reading this author from now on
“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.”
What I Liked: I picked this one up VERY WARILY, because I’ve read this author before, and while I loved the story concept, I found the writing over the top and the whole thing a bit melodramatic for my taste (Before We Were Strangers, if you’re wondering). A few chapters into Blind Kiss, I started dancing around the house, shouting “I like this one!” (the husband, who is used to such proclamations, ignored me). But guys, I really, really did! In fact, I think I might have even…loved it? Like totally loved it? Like I read it in all in one day and was so sad that it was over?
♥ Penny. She’s a strong character, full of life and striving for independence but never quite reaching it. Penny’s a ballet dancer, getting her college degree in dance, and has to put all her focus into that to prove to her parents that it’s a worthwhile investment. She changes a lot throughout the series, taking more and more steps towards autonomy, but she lacks the confidence to really make it on her own. I loved Penny, but I felt like she made a lot of mistakes with Gavin, and she always wanted to keep him in her back pocket.
Once upon a time, I was also a ballet dancer. This was my favorite turn
♥ Gavin. Now Gavin, Gavin was full of mistakes. But he owned them. He was a crazy flirt, thrived on fighting with girlfriends, was passionate, smart, kind, and spontaneous. Gavin’s mistakes tended to be big, life-altering, massive changes, but he saw them through, even if they made him unhappy or bored. I loved all of his tattoos. He doesn’t have a traditional sleeve, but rather has tattoos all over his body that he gets whenever and wherever he pleases, regardless of if they “go” together. He admits that half of his tattoos reference Penny and she doesn’t even know it. Some are obvious, like her son’s name, some are more subtle that you’ll find out only as you read through.
Not everyone likes Gavin’s tattoos, but guess what? If it’s not your body, it’s not yours to comment on (thank you, Julie Murphy). So if you don’t like tattoos, don’t get them! 🙂
♥ The Blind Kiss. I mean, you guys know how I feel about a good kiss, yes? And this one…I hope you have a fan ready when you read this, because whew. This one was hot.
The Blind Kiss Experiment is an interesting concept, one I’ve never been sure if I would take part in. But Penny and Gavin do, and they happen to be paired together. They have immediate chemistry, and go directly from the kiss to get some coffee, from coffee to Penny’s dance rehearsal, to Gavin fixing Penny’s car, to Gavin making sure she gets home safely, all in one afternoon. Gavin starts calling her his best friend from that first day, and it never stops.
♥ The Best Friends. They are fantastic best friends, even though this kind of best friendship is hard because one person wants more, then the other, then both do but they still just can’t. I have been in this friendship, and it can be heartbreaking, and confusing, and nobody else ever understands it. Significant others think the amount of time you spend together, or how touchy you are, is inappropriate. Other friends are sick of you being a package deal. You spend way too much time imagining different ways this all could go; the good, the bad, and the terrible. But there is something so magical about this friendship, about someone who loves you this much, about someone who is willing to put up with what everyone else says.
The synopsis doesn’t say it, but Penny and Gavin remain best friends for the fourteen years before the big change alluded to, and I was glad to see that. I was afraid it was going to be coming back together after fourteen years apart, but they stay friends through it all. Gavin is there for the birth of Penny’s son, and they grieve the loss of each other’s parents. Gavin dates different girls while Penny dotes on her son, and plays the part of Uncle G. The amount of time they spend together isn’t always as much as it used to be, but I loved every interaction they had together. I really liked that Penny recognized that one person can’t necessarily be everything to you. Different people fill different roles in your life, and that’s okay.
♥ The Best Friends to More. This is one of my favorite tropes and always will be. I love watching best friends slowly move to more, although these best friends start out a little more than most. But it’s always really fun to see best friends falling for each other over time. In this case, it was really satisfying to see them finally follow through on all the
♥ Both Timelines. A book is really successful for me when there are two timelines and I can’t wait to get back and forth to each of them. Add to that two different voices, whom I also couldn’t wait to get back and forth to, and I knew I definitely had a winner on my hands.
What I Didn’t:
⊗ the Rushed Ending. I liked the ending, guys. It was satisfying, it all came together, people did what I wanted them to do. There just wasn’t enough of it.
Favorite Quotes: “I wish it were you, Penny.”