Review by Gabrielle

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“He presses his lips to mine – warm, soft lips that taste like whiskey and chewing gum, and he moves, deepens the kiss, and warm stubble prickles against my face, I swear my whole body feels like it’s alive, and I’m nothing now but stars.” 

Lia Louis has woven a special kind of magic with this book. The kind that transports you from your everyday life and makes you believe that anything is possible. 

Noelle is in a pickle. After attending her disastrous college reunion, she is trapped on the highway in her car in a snowstorm with a dead cell phone and less than ideal clothing. When handsome Sam comes to her rescue, they spend eight perfect hours together in his rental car. When the storm lets up enough, they go their separate ways expecting to never see each other again. Except they do. Repeatedly. 

I have a love/hate relationship with the concept of fate. One moment I’m reading my horoscope and the next I’m resolutely affirming that life is what you make it. No matter where you stand on it, I think we can agree that the idea of fate is a delicious one to read about, especially in a romance book. In Eight Perfect Hours the meet-cutes are so well done that each one feels essential rather than perfunctory and all of them feel meaningful.

The chemistry between Sam and Noelle is really special. Despite their immediate attraction and the insane number of times they run into each other, I would call this one a slow burn that leaves the reader wondering will they or won’t they? One of the ways Lia expertly builds this tension is that we only ever see everything through Noelle’s point of view. While I also enjoy books that incorporate multiple viewpoints, I am glad Lia made this choice for his book. I adored the sensation of not knowing what was happening in Sam’s mind and wondering alongside Noelle what might be going on with him. 

This is not a fluffy, light romance, it has depth and layers and a great twist near the end. There are some big themes being explored here and I love how they are incorporated as central to the plot and not in a surface level kind of way. Grief is a big theme that Lia is looking at in this book and exploring how loss can shape us as people. Another theme would be acting as a caregiver for an aging parent and both the joys and limitations of it. I don’t want to leave you with the impression that this book is depressing because it’s not. Although there is a lot going on, it’s all handled so masterfully that overall the book doesn’t feel heavy or overwhelming. In fact, it feels quite hopeful. 

There are also some lovely secondary plotlines going on that also contribute to the profundity of this book. I personally appreciated reading about Noelle’s friend Charlie as she struggles with new parenthood. It is an honest look at the less rosy side of being a new mom that no one wants to talk about. Charlie is such a fun, vibrant character and I loved the dynamic between her and her husband Theo. I also loved the relationship between Noelle’s mom and their ex-neighbour Ian. That one will have you saying, “awwww”. They are just too adorable. 

This one will make you cry but also uplift you and will have you believing in fate all day long as the story unfolds. I highly recommend it.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Publishing for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.