Ready for a slow burn romance in 2021? I might have just the thing….
Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Random House U.K. (Transworld Publishers)
Date Published: 4 February 2021
Print length: 400 pages
Trigger warnings: Grief, injury, loss of a loved one, talk of death
Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.
Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. So when a new patient is put in the bed beside him, he’s eager for someone different to talk to. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now.
But it’s clear he won’t be seeing a new face anytime soon. Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else see her. Keeping the curtain around her bed firmly closed, it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to be friends. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice slowly out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never seen?
Before I Saw You is a classic case of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. When I looked at the cover, my mind conjured up a cute, easy-read romance with enough fluffiness to bring me out of my lockdown-induced-funk. My initial thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth, of course.
This book is a stark contrast to previous contemporary romance novels I’ve read before based on setting alone as – for the most part – the story takes place in a hospital. For a lot of us, hospitals symbolise a place of pain, suffering and great loss. There is plenty of this included, as we delve deeper into the two main character’s stories, but there is also hope, fun and a sense of togetherness you perhaps wouldn’t expect to see. This led to a rollercoaster of emotions taking place for characters and reader alike – an impressive feat for a debut novel.
Before I Saw You is a dual narrative, something I love reading. Alfie is fun, full of energy and always goes above and beyond for everyone – even grumpy Mr Peterson – whereas Alice is spiky, strong minded and fiercely independent. Initially, I had no idea how the two would blend together but, as the narrative gathered pace, I loved seeing the relationship and individual characters develop more…even if parts did make me feel a bit teary.
I loved the parts where you saw Alfie and Alice growing closer and closer, from reading Harry Potter to asking serious, sometimes hard hitting questions, and I also really enjoyed seeing how other characters fit in the narrative – from Mother Angel to Alice’s best friend, Sarah.
The narrative was a slow burner, which some might find annoying. It did take a while to truly get things going, and the narrative did hit some bumps and obstacles along the way, but I think it only made me appreciate Alfie and Alice’s story all the more.
The one thing I wasn’t keen on was the ending. It wasn’t bad, necessarily, it’s just I wanted more. Then again, if the open ending means Houghton will revisit the characters in the future, I have two words for that: I’m in.
Before I Saw You is a slow burner contemporary novel about injury, recovering and connections.
A Few “Thank Yous”
I wouldn’t have been able to read this book, or participate in this blog tour, without a few people. Firstly, I want to thank Anne Cater (of Random Things Tours and Random Things through my Letterbox ) for organising the blog tour (and letting me be part of it!).
I also want to thank the publishers, Transworld (Random House U.K.), and the writer Emily Houghton for allowing me to read a physical copy of this book. I was hooked by this debut novel and I hope others will be as well.
About the Author
Emily Houghton is an ex digital specialist and full-time creative writer.
She originally comes from Essex but now lives in London. Emily is a trained yoga and spin teacher, completely obsessed with dogs and has dreamt of being an author ever since she could hold a pen.
Before I Saw You is available to buy on Amazon .
That’s my stop on the Random Things Tour for Before I Saw You complete. Don’t forget to check out the other reviews and interviews as part of this tour.
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