One morning in October, I woke up in my tiny Lincoln Park apartment at seven a.m., just like I always did. I got ready, ate a dry waffle, put on four layers of clothes, and walked to the L station at Fullerton and boarded the train at approximately eight fifteen, just like I always did. Nothing about that morning stood out, but it was a game-changer day—I just didn’t know it yet. I walked through three train cars before I found him. I took a seat behind two of my fellow parishioners and prepared to take in the mass. This was our church every morning, and our pastor was Just Bob, or at least that’s who he was to me. The first time I met him, I asked him his name and he said, “Bob.” I waited for him to continue and then he said, “Just Bob,” so that’s what I called him.
Warning alarms of self-preservation should have gone off in my twenty-six-year-old head when a man named Just Bob began preaching on an elevated train full of innocent people seven months ago, but those warnings never occurred to me because the first time I had heard him speak, I was immediately hooked. He never brought up the Bible or religion or fire and brimstone—nothing like that. The first thing he had said that day was, “You’re all you’ve got!”
He was an old, tired-looking man, probably seventy years old, at least. There were five gray hairs sprouting out of his round, bald head, and he wore the same Dockers and Pendleton every single day. His clothes were clean, or at least they looked clean, but he still had a very distinct odor. He smelled of old books, like the far-back recesses of the oldest library on earth. I imagined that he lived in a dinky apartment that was stacked ceiling-high with old hardbacks. He could barely stand, let alone walk, so it was a small miracle that he made it to that train like clockwork every day just to speak to his loyal followers. There were maybe ten of us. I didn’t know the others at all—we kept to ourselves—but the faces had become easily recognizable to me over the last seven months.
Chicago has its share of totally insane people who like to get on the L and speak loudly to no one in particular. I’ve ridden that train my whole life, but Just Bob was different. He had a message to deliver, a message that I needed to hear. Every day was a different topic. Sometimes he would channel Suze Orman and talk personal finance; other days he would talk about pesticides and preservatives in food and how he thought they were making everyone taller. That day, I’m pretty sure he was channeling Gandhi with a thick Chicago accent. He was talking about being the change you want to see. He said, “Visualize to realize, that is what I’m telling you today, good folks. You must see it before it happens. You must be your own oracle. Visualize to realize the dream!”
As we approached my stop, I stood up and headed toward the door. Just Bob often sat at the front near the exit while he gave his sermon. As I passed, he stood on shaky legs and put his hand on my shoulder. This was very unusual. “Kate,” he said—I didn’t even know he knew my name—“It’s a game-changer day for you. Visualize to realize it.” And then, like he always said at the end of his speeches, “And remember . . .” Just Bob arched his eyebrows, waiting for me to finish the line.
“I’m all I’ve got,” I said.
It was kind of creepy, in retrospect, but it was exactly what I needed at the time. He let go of my shoulder, and I exited the train at State Street into the icy cold Chicago wind, with the weirdest feeling that my life would never be the same.
It’s not like a little change would hurt. After my first chance meeting with Just Bob, I began searching for him every morning on the Brown Line, even though that route made me late for work. It started exactly one week after Rose died, when I first felt truly and completely alone. Rose was my mother’s childhood friend and had raised me after my mom passed away from breast cancer when I was eight. My mother had me at the age of forty, after spending most of her life thinking it was impossible to become pregnant—until she met my father. Too bad he didn’t stick around. I never even met him.
My mother was a wonderful person. She thought of me as a miracle, so she doted on me and tried to give me everything I needed. At the same time, she taught me to be an independent thinker. She was the type of person who always looked put-together until she got sick, yet I remember her telling me, You’re a beautiful girl, Kate, but don’t ever rely on your looks. She would tap her index finger on my temple and say, It’s what you do with this that matters.
I remember she was affectionate but tough, like she was preparing me for the challenges of life. I always had the sense that she wouldn’t be around for very long, and she wasn’t, but at least I had Rose . . . until I didn’t. She died from an infection after having textbook surgery to remove a gallstone. I didn’t understand what kind of God would take away every person who cared about me. Then I realized, There’s no one to take care of me, no matter how many people surround me. I’m all I’ve got. Those words became my mantra.
I chanted those words as I entered the lobby of the Chicago Crier, a well-known Chicago newspaper and blog, and my workplace for the last five years. I had been writing articles for the special interest section on topics like the dangers of trans fats, yoga vs. Pilates, the merits of red lipstick, and where to find inexpensive, quality wine. I was never given a serious assignment. Jerry, the editor, loved me, but from the time of Rose’s death I had been producing subpar articles with zero enthusiasm. I had no expectation of moving up at the paper because my energy for life had withered, and frankly, I didn’t deserve it. But somehow, when I walked through the doors that day, I had a new vision. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was an image of me at a computer, writing with fervor and passion—something I hadn’t done in eight long months.
When I reached my floor, I found Beth standing near my cubicle. She was a tall, mousy-haired, intimidating-looking woman, but she had a huge heart and a true talent for writing. She dressed like a teenage boy in basketball shorts, T-shirts, and sneakers every freakin’ day, but it didn’t matter because she was the head writer at the paper and damn well deserved it. She got all of the biggest assignments because she put her heart and soul into every single word she wrote. I admired her.
“Hi Beth, how was your weekend?”
“Great. I knocked out ten thousand words.”
Of course she did. Why couldn’t I be more like that?
“What’s this?” I pointed toward a stack of papers on my desk. The cover sheet was blank except for the bold words: R. J. LAWSON.
“Jerry is giving you that story,” she said. I had no idea what it meant at first, but then I remembered hearing Jerry rant about R. J. Lawson. Jerry was obsessed with getting a story on him. I personally didn’t know anything about him.
“Me? Why in the world would he give this to me?”
Beth just smiled her knowing smile. “I don’t know, but he’s gonna be over in a sec to talk to you about it. Boy, I wanted that story, Kate. No one has been able to get an interview with him since he disappeared from public life. I’m glad you got it, though—you need it.”
I stared at her for several moments and then I mumbled, “Yeah, I know . . . might be a game changer.”
Smiling, she said, “You got it, sister.” Then she did a jump shot with a balled-up piece of paper, lofting it perfectly into the wastebasket behind me. “Swoosh, nothin’ but net.”
When she turned and walked away, I stared down at the neatly stacked papers and laughed to myself, thinking Jerry had truly lost his mind giving me a real assignment. I looked up to find him peering over the partition.
“You like? It’s an exclusive,” he said, arching his eyebrows.
“Kate, what do you know about that guy?”
“Nothing except that you’ve been hounding his people for a story, and I can tell you that Beth would have easily sacrificed a limb for this assignment.”
He nodded slowly and then looked up at the ceiling as if he was thinking. The large warehouse-like room was separated by about a hundred cubicle partitions. The huge space rattled and hummed with the sound of writers chatting and typing frantically at their computers. Jerry pumped different kinds of music through the overhead speakers, creating a cocoon of creativity, but I hadn’t felt creative in a long time, and it was nobody’s fault but my own. At that moment, a sad version of the song “Heartbeats” by José González was traveling through the airwaves. I watched Jerry as he continued to look up pensively.
He was forty years old and he looked exactly like Richard Dreyfuss circa Close Encounters. He wore his bifocals on the very last millimeter of his nose, which aged him, but he thought it gave him a look of credibility. He was in love with his wife and kids, a true family man, but he had no filter at all, so it didn’t surprise me one bit when he finally looked back down and said, “You’re a good writer, Kate. You have what it takes, and you have a nice ass, too.”
“Jerry! What does that have to do with anything? I don’t want you to give me a huge assignment because I have a nice ass.”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s not what I meant. I said you have what it takes. R.J. is a thirty-year-old bachelor. Looking the way you do can’t hurt.”
“Well gee, thank you,” I said sarcastically.
“You don’t want it?” He reached for the stack.
“No. I want it. I just can’t believe . . .”
“It was a compliment, Kate.”
“Okay, fine.” He didn’t mean any harm by it. Like I said, no filter. He was the most loyal man in the world, and he wasn’t trying to objectify me. I think he thought that with R.J.’s history of turning down interviews—the only thing I did know about him, based on what Beth had told me—Beth’s aggressive approach to getting a story wouldn’t be a good fit.
“I would love this opportunity, Jerry, thank you. Honestly though, I’m curious. Why in the world did he agree to give us an interview—and an exclusive one, at that? We’re not exactly a nationally recognized newspaper.”
“I just bugged the hell out of him,” he said triumphantly. “I kept on sending requests until he finally replied. He said he was impressed by my persistence, and he felt our paper had more integrity than others. He most likely checked us out. He seems eager to spread the word about the winery’s sustainability and their environmentally friendly practices, which sound pretty cutting-edge. The only thing is that his e-mail stressed how extremely private he is and how he would prefer the article to focus on the wine, not his personal life. But, Kate, a story like this could really launch the Crier into a whole new league, especially if you can get the dirt our readers want. That means finding out everything there is to know about R. J. Lawson.”
I swiveled my chair out from my desk, crossed my legs, and leaned back. I was intrigued. “Tell me what you know about him.”
“Hold on to your seat, this guy is truly a conundrum. In 1998, Ryan Lawson was a young MIT graduate, computer engineering prodigy, and cofounder of the largest technology company in Silicon Valley. He had the potential to be Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak rolled into one—a savvy business mind and a technological genius.”
“Yeah, he invented some computer server that’s used in almost all government agencies, banks, and large corporations. It’s impossible to hack.”
“So you expect me to interview a tech mogul when I’ve been writing articles on lipstick and wine?”
“That’s the thing, Kate. In 1999, he sold his share of J-Com technologies and fell off the radar. No one knew where he went or what he was doing with his three billion dollars. Rumors surfaced that he took the money to Africa and was building schools all across the continent with his own hands, but that was never confirmed.”
“So how did you know where to find him . . . and what is he doing now?”
“I started hearing about him three years ago when it was leaked to a California newspaper that he had purchased a nine-hundred-acre ailing winery and outdated bed-and-breakfast in Napa Valley. He managed to keep things quiet until this year, when his wine started winning every award known to man.”
The pieces were coming together slowly. “R. J. Lawson,” I said. “Yes, that Pinot is fantastic!”
“Right? It’s like everything this guy touches turns to gold.”
“Why in the world would Beth want to interview a winemaker?”
“Because he’s refused to grant interviews and hasn’t been photographed in more than a decade. Imagine if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs had disappeared at the peak of their powers. It’s a huge story.”
“I still can’t believe you’re giving this to me.”
“Well, I’m not gonna lie, Kate. You’ve been producing crap lately. Did I hear that you submitted a proposal to write a feature article on the myth that fruit gum gives you fresh breath?”
“It’s true, though. Fruity gum does not give you fresh breath. It gives you disgusting breath, and people need to know. Come on, that’s what special interest is.”
“Key word being interest. Our readers don’t care about the worthlessness of fruity gum. They want interesting stories—stories that will make them feel. Even if you’re writing a story about wine, you need to touch readers’ hearts. There has to be an element of humanity in every piece you write.”
“No, I know what you’re saying. I just haven’t been motivated since . . . Rose died.”
He looked sympathetic for a millisecond. I got the feeling that excuse was wearing thin. “You’d have to leave for California tomorrow. He’s agreed to do the interview in two parts. Tuesday and Thursday are the only days he has available, so you’ll stay at the B&B there. It will be peaceful, and you can probably knock out half the article while you’re there. Go home and talk to your boyfriend about it and let me know.”
He won’t care. He couldn’t give a shit.
“I’m in, Jerry. I don’t need to talk to Stephen about it. How long will I be out there?”
He paused with that profound look in his eyes again, and then in a low voice he said, “You’ve lost your spark, Kate. Don’t come home until you find it. Bring back a great story.”
Revue de presse
“Nowhere But Here is the whole package! A must-read romance.” (A. L. Jackson, New York Times bestselling author)
“A breathtaking love story that will not only capture your heart with each turn of the page but make it flutter.” (Kim Karr, New York Times bestselling author)
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
21 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
BEAUTIFUL!!!!5 mai 2014
Aestas Book Blog
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
I absolutely loved this book!! Beautiful writing, beautiful story, beautiful message.
I was hooked from the first page. The writing just drew me in and made me desperate to keep turning the pages. As an avid reader of romance novels, I found it especially interesting to see how strongly I was drawn in even before any hint of the love story was introduced. Like the actual backdrop of the story alone was enough to keep me riveted and I found myself curious to find out more about RJ Lawson.
But I'm getting ahead of myself here. The story is about a young journalist, Kate, who is granted an exclusive interview with a wealthy, mysterious, and reclusive tech genius turned winemaker, RJ Lawson. Being at particularly low point in her life at this time, she jumps at the chance to discover what sent this rich and brilliant man completely off the radar... "Imagine if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs had disappeared at the peak of their power. It's a huge story" ... and she heads off to the Napa Valley to meet with him at his award-winning vineyards.
What she doesn't expect is to be swept off her feet by one of the workers at the vineyard, Jamie, who took it upon himself to be her tour guide. But when Jamie mysteriously disappeared towards the end of her stay, it left her reeling and questioning everything... until a revelation hit her that made all the puzzle pieces fall into place.
I felt like I was transported away to the Napa Valley as I read. I could practically taste the wine, and feel the wind on my face, it felt like I was right there. I was swept away in the romance, intrigued by the mystery, and caught up in the whole story.
This story actually had a very strong "movie-quality" to it. The descriptions were so rich that I could vividly picture each scene taking place in my head just as though I were watching it on the big screen. To be honest, I think it would translate fantastically into a movie but that's a whole other topic.
Jamie made me fall in love! I swooned from the moment I met him. He was a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and a true renaissance man. Gorgeous, tattooed, hardworking, skilled, multitalented, and loved by everyone who surrounded him, but also hiding a mysterious past. He was sweet, kind, loving and adventurous. One part good boy and the other part bad boy, with an old soul... the perfect contradiction.
"He's sweet and sensitive, but confident and sexy as hell -- and smart, too. I don't know what the hell he's doing out here picking grapes."
We're told the whole story from Kate's POV and really got to see how far she came. She was lonely and insecure in the beginning and clearly wanted more out of life and over the course of the book we got to see her not only learn to have more faith in herself but also learn to trust enough to put her heart out on the line and fall in love. I liked that she was flawed and quirky and would sometimes blurt out her honest thoughts before her brain caught up with it all -- it just made her feel more real.
I absolutely loved watching Jamie woo Kate... their flirting, teasing, dating, and all brought a smile to my face in page after page of heart melting happiness. It was beautiful to watch them fall in love.
I will say that I had a slight frustration with Kate though in one part of the book (which thankfully didnt last too long). It's regarding the twist (which I won't spoil here)... I figured the twist out early on and while it didn't bother me that it took her longer to figure it out, I did wish she'd have reacted differently once she figured things out. Especially with Jamie being just so heart wrenchingly perfect, it was definitely frustrating for a little while at first but the more I read, the more I understood her reaction. I think in all honestly that it's possible that a lot of people would have reacted that way. Needless to say, my heart still absolutely ached for Jamie -- like OMG. "Night, angel." (*sob*) -- but at the same time, having read the entire book, I understand the significance of this part of the story and realize how important it was in helping Kate understand the true value of love in a person's life.
"Love is a thing that you can't take out of you. Once it's there, it doesn't go away, no matter what. Love can morph into hate and resentment, but it will always be there, buried under the bad feelings."
Even apart from the gorgeous romance, this book was filled with countless little heart warming moments -- Dylan borrowing her apartment (you'll smile when you read that part!), her betta fish named Anchovy (omg, I don't know why but I loved that so much!!), the letter from Bob (what an amazing person), and so many more moments that brought a smile to my face. This story was about so much more than just falling in love.... it was about learning to trust in each other and rely on each other when you're in love.
"What started out as a journey of one girl who kept herself hidden in the darkness became the story of two souls connected and growing together in the light."
Oh, and even though this was a complete standalone novel, there was a gorgeous little shout out to the characters from Sweet Thing that should give fans of that book a little *heart clench* moment ;)
There is a certain `magic' or `spark' or whatever you want to call it that really makes a book come to life as you read it. As a reader, I'm on a constant search for that special spark and I absolutely found it here.
Nowhere But Here was a unique and beautifully written love story. I laughed, I swooned, I wiped happy tears away, and I fell in love. This book warmed my heart and left me with the most wonderful feeling. I highly recommend it for all fans of romance!
"To exist in each other's souls so strongly that you are bound without a physical tie is the greatest mark of love...."
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A timeless, romantic, funny love story which makes you want to believe in true love.5 mai 2014
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Author Renee Carlino did it again with Nowhere but Here. She wrote a timeless, romantic, funny love story which makes you want to believe in true love.
The story of Kate and Jamie is a romance found in the picturesque Napa Valley. Kate is sent on assignment to interview a reclusive boy-genius-all-grown-up. When she meets the recluse, she is appalled by his behavior. But it is Jamie who insists she visits longer, to forget about the owner and find out what makes Lawson Winery so successful. As Jamie continues to show Kate all he can, he also proves to Kate that living day to day, enjoying a simple life, is what real living is about.
While many novels are laced with macho, alpha men, Renee Carlino proves that a hopeless romantic, like Jamie, is just as desirable. Yes, we get some steamy love scenes, but nothing completely unrealistic. Nowhere but Here is a book I am going to keep around as a go-to read, on a rainy day, when I need a pick me up, or because I want to read a true love story. Do not miss the wonderful, romantic story of Kate and Jamie.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Ooohs and aahs from start to finish6 mai 2014
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
"Life takes you to unexpected places. LOVE brings you HOME."
Renee Carlino has captured the pure essence of what propels a book from being the normal or standard into a level of extra special and she's included all the finest elements in doing so. Nowhere but Here -- will you meet two more engaging and thoroughly beguiling characters in a beautifully written and unforgettable story of the uncertainties of love between friends, lovers, and soul mates. The quality in the attention paid to the myriad of little details adds so much charm and dazzle in arousing delight and admiration for this author's unique writing style.
Traveling along side Jamie and Kate on the road to happily-ever-after was a truly genuine and refreshingly delightful escapade. Jamie's wooing alone catapults this story to off-the-chart romantic status with so many "ooh and ah" moments attributable to the sweet and unforgettable symbols and expressions of affection he bestows upon Kate. Included also is a strong secondary cast of fascinating characters that lends a helping hand in keeping the momentum running full speed ahead.
Yes, it's one of the best love stories in contemporary romances I've read in a long, long time but it's not without some angst-ridden "sour grape" issues that must be overcome. Trust stands on shaky ground for a big part of the story. There's a twist to the story that proves keeping secrets causes more harm than anything else in a love story. Although the twist plays a major factor in the story, it's hidden in plain sight and most readers will spy it long before our poor heroine does. I don't believe that the author ever intended otherwise.
Additional bonuses included: Will and Mia Ryan from "Sweet Thing" make a melodious appearance! And secondly, this is a standalone - absolutely no cliffhanger in sight.
I adored and treasured every moment of this reading experience. It is such a terrific read from start to finish!
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Worth the wait!8 mai 2014
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
I have been waiting and waiting (and waiting) for this novel to come out. Even since I read Sweet Thing (Renee's first book), I've been stalking her just anticipating another great read. Nowhere but Here was so worth the wait! I read this straight through in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down.
Renee's writing has improved even more and I thought it was great to begin with. Her character development is what really sucks me in though. She can truly tell a story and make you fall in love with her characters. Jamie is a bit mysterious and kind of a perfect guy really... a touch of alpha male, a bit of geek, and a whole lot of hot! Even though Kate, our heroine, has some emotional issues dealing with grief and loneliness, she's still feisty and funny.
She and Jamie fall quickly for each other while she is on a brief writing assignment for job. Having been sent to interview the reclusive owner of a winery, the two of them immediately butt heads and she is left to spend the rest of her time hanging out with Jamie, the handyman and jack of all trades, while he shows her the winery (and ahem... other things). As their week draws to a close, their 'relationship' blows up from secrets, lies and the past coming back to haunt them.
There is some angst to this book definitely but it's actually a fairly light read with an HEA. I did cry some at one point but mostly I just had the warm fuzzies from Jamie! Even though lot of the story takes places over a four day period, it doesn't feel like it. There is a lot of emotion packed into that time and the rest of the book extends enough into the future to make the storyline more believable. One of the best parts... Will and Mia make an appearance. They are not related to this story but it was nice for Renee to work them in so we can see a little into their future as well.
My gut reaction was that I loved this book EVEN MORE than Sweet Thing. While I think that's still the case, the bottom line is that Renee has produced another fabulous novel and I can't recommend this highly enough. This will be on my favorite stand alones list for 2014!
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Don't Want To Be Nowhere But Here!!!7 août 2014
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
I love,love,love Renee Carlino! Her books always take me on the best journey to discovering love!! After reading her books Sweet Thing and Sweet Little Thing, which are must reads, I became a devoted fan. I was so excited to finally get the chance to read Nowhere But Here and Loved every second of it. This is a story of finding love, that one person that makes you feel complete as if together you are one whole. Through this love you find yourself, a part of you thats been hidden and felt was meant to be alone, just surviving not living. There moments while reading that I found myself tearful yet hopeful, but through so much of the book I couldn't quit smiling and swooning. This was a definite 5+ stars book and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for their next great read!