eARC Review – Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

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Title: Before I Saw You

Author: Emily Houghton

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: May 4th, 2021

400 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

For fans of Close Enough to Touch and Me Before You comes a poignant and moving novel about two patients who fall in love as they recover from traumatic injuries in the same hospital ward…all without seeing each other.

Alice Gunnersley and Alfie Mack sleep just a few feet apart from one another. They talk for hours every day. And they’ve never seen each other face-to-face.

After being in terrible accidents, the two now share the same ward as long-term residents of St. Francis’s Hospital. Although they don’t get off to the best start, the close quarters (and Alfie’s persistence to befriend everyone he meets) brings them closer together. Pretty soon no one can make Alice laugh as hard as Alfie does, and Alfie feels like he’s finally found a true confidante in Alice. Between their late night talks and inside jokes, something more than friendship begins to slowly blossom between them.

But as their conditions improve and the end of their stay draws closer, Alfie and Alice are forced to decide whether it’s worth continuing a relationship with someone who’s seen all of the worst parts of you, but never seen your actual face.

A tender novel of healing and hope, Before I Saw You reminds us that connections can be found even in the most unexpected of places—and that love is almost always blind.


Before I Saw You was a very different type of contemporary romance novel, set in a rehab unit of a hospital in Europe. Our two MC’s are recovering from traumatic accidents and help each other along the way as they share a room. Alfie loses a leg in a horrible car accident, but doesn’t let it dim his positivity and outlook on life. Alice is the opposite, she is severely burned while at work in her office and doesn’t speak for weeks after being admitted to the hospital. Alfie recognizes the pain and suffering in Alice, and works to make her feel comfortable in the unit.

If I had to sum up this book in a word it would be “heartwarming”. Before I Saw You is a tale of grief and suffering, but also trust and redemption and finding love in the most unexpected places. Alfie and Alice’s journey together was incredible to watch as they both dealt with their traumas and helped each other through it all. I loved the side characters and the serious notes. This is a not a light and fluffy rom com, it tackles intense emotions and topics while keeping a bit of humor.

I would have loved to see more of the romance aspect between Alfie and Alice, which would be my only critique. But that comes from someone who is just super romance minded and loves to read that! If you’re looking for a fantastic contemporary read, light on romance, this will be right up your alley. I’ve always enjoyed TV shows set in hospitals but this is the first book I’ve read with that setting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thanks to Gallery Books and Netgalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

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