Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…
After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.
One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.
When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
WOW. Seriously, wow. I knew I was going to enjoy this book, but I’m not sure I entirely realized HOW MUCH I was going to enjoy this book. I was sucked in right from the start, and my love just grew in intensity as I continued to read it… It was one of those books where you resent your life for interfering with your reading…or at least it was for me.
I am a sucker for a damaged heroine. I wasn’t quite sure how damaged Allison would be, and while some of my suspicions were way off base, I really appreciated that we got to see some different effects of just being in the Foster system and bouncing around from home to home without an added other huge trauma. Not sure if that makes sense, but sometimes I think just that basic concept of feeling unwanted and unloved and too much rejection does not get enough attention. Allison honestly brought out all the feels for me, I HURT for past and present her. I felt how much she wanted to close off the world, and how afraid she was of letting people in. There’s a teeny tiny part of me that wonders if her transition was too fast, but that’s partly b/c there were time jumps in the story. But quite honestly? I was getting so much out of the story, I didn’t even care. I LOVED seeing Allison slowly open up and accept love. It was beautiful.
There were two shining stars for me in this story (besides our heroine of course). Obviously there is Esben. I wondered if he would be too good to be true, and I debated about whether that would annoy me, but you know what? It really didn’t. Especially because despite being such a good and kind and generous soul, we did get to see into his own damage, and see what shaped him into the person he was. And he was not without his own flaws and bad decisions. But I ADORED him. EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. I really expected a much different hero after reading the blurb and seeing social media star, and the glimpse we get before the experiment. My preconceived notions were blown away. He made me feel so many emotions all on his own, and he is totally my kind of book boyfriend material. I want an Esben.
And I loved the way they grew together. Their chemistry was palpable, and sweet, and slow burning, and gave me so many tummy tingles. I ADORED the way their relationship progressed, it was all so satisfying for me.
The other star for me was Simon. I’m not sure if it’s just because he’s a Dad, and I’m missing my own, but I LOVED HIM SO MUCH. He made me cry in so many unexpected moments, just by being himself. He was vulnerable, and honest, and tried so hard, and I was just always so happy that Allison had him. And OMG, did he make me laugh!! Right from that first chapter!! I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a secondary character in quite this way before. He added so much to the story.
Steffi was another intriguing character. I knew there was more to her story, but for some reason I was still caught off guard. I enjoyed what we learned about her, and what she brought to Allison’s own growth.
I did end up losing some of my steam nearer to the end, but I was also interrupted so many times, that I think that hurt it too. If you can read it all in one sitting, I highly recommend that.
All in all this book made me laugh, smile big grins, get tummy tingles, silently cry some tears, and bawl like a baby. That’s a pretty great spectrum. Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year, it just hit all the right places for me.