Book Title: Eight Perfect Hours (Review Copy)
Author: Lia Louis
Genre: General fiction, romance, emotional drama
Blurb from Goodreads
What if you fell in love…
… and then he disappeared?
When Noelle and Sam’s lives collide one snowy evening, they spend eight perfect hours stuck side by side believing that they’ll never see each other again.
But soon their lives become entangled in ways they never expected – and it’s going to change everything…
- anxiety and depression,
- Teenage car accident and death,
- Teenage suicide
- post natal depression
Last year I read and loved Lia Louis’ Dear Emmie Blue because it was the perfect blend of heartfelt emotion, tenderness, drama, and romance. So it was an absolute no brainer for me to pick up her latest novel Eight Perfect Hours. And like Dear Emmie Blue it mixed deep emotion with romance and drama… but it never clicked with me like I thought it would.
There’s absolutely nothing inherently wrong with this book. It’s got an incredibly likeable lead character in Noelle who is equal parts vulnerable and resilient. She’s experienced much heartache and sadness in her life; her best friend died in an accident, she lives with her own anxiety and depression, is her mother’s primary carer and has therefore put her own life on hold… but despite all that she has this deep reservoir of joy and love inside her. She’s loyal, full of integrity and compassion, and all of these ingredients do add up to a main character that is interesting to read about.
But even better is the hook of this story.
Noelle and Sam rescue each other during a snowy evening on a motorway and spend eight perfect hours together after which they don’t exchange any contact details… but of course fate has other plans and their life stories become entwined in ways that neither could predict…. sadly for me though I predicted all of it. And that’s my problem. The story was very pleasant, tugged on heart strings in the right places etc etc… but it was predictable and therefore I sort of trudged along with the story until its inevitable conclusion.
However this is first and foremost a romance.
And one thing that us romance readers tend to want is that comfortably predictable ending where the right people fall in love and live happily ever after. This book gives us exactly that.
So I think my issue here is a more personal one regarding the narrative structures and plot devices that Louis likes to incorporate in her writing. While this is an entirely separate novel from Dear Emmie Blue it shares a lot of structural similarities with regards to plot and characters. So for me this book felt “samey”. For me to have enjoyed this and rated it more highly I would have required something to freshen up the plot such as moments of wit and comedy. But this isn’t that type of novel. It’s primarily an emotional drama so a handful of deep belly laughs would have felt out of place…
I do think if a greater chunk of the novel had been spent detailing the “eight perfect hours” then this book would have captured my heart a lot more as I never really rooted for Noelle and Sam to be together for the whole of the novel. That section felt too rushed and therefore lacked that magical spark that would burn brightly for the remainder of the plot imo.
However, if you’re a fan of easy to read and deeply emotional, romantic books with a rich cast of characters then I would 100% recommend this to you as it has a storyline that really fits that brief. But if like me you prefer your romance to have a little more comedy then maybe pop this one on the long finger ready for a rainy day when you want a good book cry.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
Publishing 19th August 2021, Orion Publishing Group