ARC Review: 180 Seconds by Jessica Park

180 Seconds

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4.5 stars!

Oh wow. What a stunningly beautiful, emotional and unexpected NA read! Sweet, heartbreaking and heartwarming with a romance that had me swooning, this little read took me by surprise and completely stole my heart!

I say this book took me by surprise, but it really shouldn’t have – it’s Jessica Park! And this book recaptures the feeling, the sweetness and the emotion of my favourite book of hers – Flat Out Love. Big words, but there you have it. I loved it!

Allison is entering her junior year of College. After spending the first 16 years of her life being shunted around the foster system, she has completely closed herself off and lives a very solitary life. She has a best friend on the other side of the country who went through the system with her and she is the only person that Allison relies on – despite the fact that she was adopted by the world’s greatest single dad at the age of 16. She is unable to open herself up to anybody else, and she pretty much lives her life in hiding.

In the middle of embracing her solitude, she is literally dragged off the street and into a social experiment one afternoon where she is sat in a chair and asked to stare into the eyes of a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Sounds weird, right? But when Allison finds herself staring into the eyes of a gorgeous guy she has seen on campus, neither of them expect that those three minutes will change their worlds forever.

We are engaged in a form of intimacy that scares the absolute hell out of me. It’s as if there is a weight on my chest that I want to shove off, and I’ve never been this terrified before.
Or this whole and hopeful and connected.
My body starts to tremble. I want more of what I’m feeling, and I also want none of it.

Allison is completely caught off guard, and not knowing how to deal with the intensity of the moment, she runs. She then discovers that the guy is Esben Baylor – a social media guru and internet sensation – and that their intimate moment has become a viral phenomenon. Again, she has no idea how to handle the vulnerability and anger that she is feeling, so she hunts down Esben to give him a piece of her mind. But when she meets him for real and actually gets to know him, she learns that he is nothing like what she had imagined him to be. He’s just a great guy who wants to do good in the world, and he is absolutely impossible not to fall for. And for the first time in her life, she wants to experience those feelings.

Those one hundred and eighty seconds with Esben somehow threw me into a whirlwind.
Either I get slammed to the ground by that force or I soar.

Oh Esben… the boy just stole my heart. He’s not your typical NA romantic hero – he’s not a bad boy or a manwhore or a sports star, he’s just a regular guy who is smart, funny and dynamic with a huge heart He’s the kind of guy that every girl wants to fall for. And what develops between him and Allison is the sweetest romance. They learn each other, they open their hearts to each other, and they willingly and naturally fall, and every moment of it was beautiful to watch.

“I like you,” he says. “…I think there’s something between us, and I’m very afraid that I’m going to do the wrong thing again and send you running. And I don’t want that. If you’re going to go running anywhere, I’d prefer that you come running to me.”

“You know what feels better than anything physical?” Esben looks at me for a long time. “How it feels to be falling for someone the way that I’m falling for you.”

But this book is SO much more than just a love story. Allison has been so closed off for so long, that watching her not only come back to life, but embrace it, is gorgeous, and this book is her journey as she explores just how brave and strong she really is.

You can’t reach what’s in front of you until you let go of what’s behind you.

This book is not always an easy read. The feels in this book! OMG, the feels! The story is an emotional one – not overwhelming, and it’s not stupid, unnecessary drama, it’s real life and it’s incredibly emotional. The themes of family, friendship, loss and love are beautifully woven through every moment, and I felt it all, and there is a wonderful cast of supporting characters that add wonderfully to the story, and contribute so much, and I can honestly say that I fell in love with each and every one of them. And though the book does have its moments of cheesiness, given all that was going on, I was happy to embrace it.

I laughed, I cried, I fell in love and I ugly cried, and my heart ached for what the characters go through. But I healed, and I finished this book with a massive grin on my face and hugging my kindle tightly.

I loved it! 4.5 stars!

An Advanced Review Copy was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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