Friday, January 21, 2022

Review: Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis

The epigraph, an ancient Chinese proverb, for this sweet and heartwarming romantic story is perfect: "An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch and tangle. But it will never break." For readers looking for a sweet novel about Fate and love, look no further than Lia Louis' newest novel, Eight Perfect Hours.

Thirty two year old Noelle Butterby finds herself trapped on the M4 motorway in a snow storm with an almost dead phone and a malfunctioning charging cord. She's returning from an event at her old college where she received the letter her best friend wrote to future Noelle way back then. The letter is bittersweet since Daisy died the night everything was put in the time capsule and the camera that was supposed to be with the letter, the camera that has the last picture of Noelle and Daisy together, is missing. Then Noelle's ex-boyfriend, who has been gone for two years and who is also at the reunion, doesn't even acknowledge her when he sees her, hurting her heart just that little bit more. The shutdown of the motorway and the state of Noelle's phone are just the cherry on top of an already difficult evening. But then a tall, handsome American man, Sam Attwood, knocks on her window and offers to let her charge her phone in his car. Wary of the offer, Noelle eventually decides to take him up on it since her mother, who suffered a stroke six years ago and depends on Noelle, will worry about her. As Noelle's phone charges, she and Sam spend a perfectly lovely eight hours talking and laughing and enjoying each other's company. When the motorway opens up, each of them go their own way never expecting to see each other again. But it seems that they cannot escape each other and their slowly growing interest in each other that easily. Now they just have to decide if their exes are the people for them or if they need or want to move on.

This is a cute novel with a fun premise. Noelle and Sam's continual meetings are random and very, some might say overly, coincidental and yet the reader happily cheers for each and every coincidence, not bothered that the final coincidence is telegraphed long before it's revealed. Both characters carry guilt and grief over the untimely loss of someone they loved and it has affected them in different ways. For Noelle, it is the driving factor in her continued dedication to her mother, despite her inflexible devotion derailing all of her future plans. She has allowed it to contribute to the end of her long time relationship and keep her from pursuing her dream to become a florist. For Sam, a mountaineer who is rarely home, his feelings of failure have pushed him to live only in the moment, unable to slow down and make a stable life. But Fate keeps pushing these two together and together they just might be brave enough to get unstuck.

The novel is heartwarming and charming. The meet cute is delightful and it's even better than Noelle and Sam start off getting to know each other with no stakes other than to keep each other company on a lousy night. Noelle's friend Charlie is a wonderful secondary character, making up for the less appealing characters of Noelle's brother Dilly, who needs to grow up, and her ex Ed, who is suspicious and frustrating. Although the novel is told in the third person, it is definitely centered on Noelle rather than Sam so the reader understands what is going on entirely from her perspective. The romance simmers slowly but stays quite clean. Noelle's constant awareness of Sam and the zinging feeling she gets around him does get a little old after a while but overall, this is the feel good, happy ending kind of engaging story we can all use these days.

1 comment:

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