Alone by E.J. NoyesAlone by E.J. Noyes is a romance focusing on the concept of being alone. Whether it’s by choice or design, Noyes takes us on a psychological journey of the mind and the heart and shows us what it truly means to be with someone.

Celeste Thorn believes she’s found the perfect way to pad her pocketbook. As a person comfortable with being alone, she decides to give four years to an experiment and living in total isolation. No internet, no human contact, and no way to leave. She’s only a few months away from completing her term, and half a million dollars will be hers. It should be an easy finish, but nothing is ever that simple.

When Celeste finds an injured hiker in the woods, her strictly governed world is thrown into disarray. As she struggles with the morality of breaking the rules of the experiment, Celeste can’t deny her growing attraction to the kind and enigmatic Olivia Soldano. But four years without another living person, another voice to hear, has Celeste not only questioning Olivia’s intentions but also her authenticity. Until Olivia’s arrival, the only voices and faces Celeste saw were the ones she created in her mind. Now Celeste wonders if she’s truly cracked and her mind has created the perfect companion.

Can Celeste trust her current reality? Or will she be able to find it somewhere between the absolute truth and a carefully constructed deception?

The Characters

Anna: The character structure in this story is spot on. We are given a complete picture of Celeste. She is a woman who has endured a rough life with a mother and a younger sister who succumbed to addiction. The very few positive relationships  she has had allowed Celeste to lead a somewhat normal life. But her ability to trust is still limited. She prefers her own company, which makes romantic relationships difficult. When she starts her isolation, Celeste believes she won’t have any issue completing the experiment. Soon, though, Celeste realizes that her connection to another human is what makes her whole.

We know very little about Olivia when she suddenly arrives, and Noyes’ does well to keep her in a constant state of mystery and intrigue. We know what Celeste knows about her. She has amazing physical attributes, which Celeste cannot help but notice over and over again. She’s also intelligent and compassionate, and the entire package to Celeste.

Both women will fall headfirst into romance, yet their newfound connection will be tested when the truth is revealed.

Michelle: Rarely do we get to see the inner thoughts, motivations, desires and fears of a character as intimately as we are fortunate enough to do with Celeste.  This was an exhilarating way to create such depth of character and to enable the reader to forge such a deep connection with them. 

The Writing Style

Anna: I wouldn’t know where to begin to write this kind of story. The approach to this kind of story can be daunting because it is so important to keep the reader interested in Celeste’s progress. Noyes is able to do this by giving a psychological observation of Celeste. We see how her brain counteracts the lack of contact by creating voices and characters based on the people she’s known throughout her life. While it’s wonderful to see the brain make these compensations, Noyes then shows us the downside when Olivia arrives. Is she real or another character created by Celeste? After three and a half years of isolation, it’s not surprising Celeste starts to question her sanity and the existence of this other person. But it’s that questioning, that exploration, that will bring Celeste to understanding, heartbreak, and unconditional joy long after her experiment is done.

Michelle:  Noyes does an incredible job of creating atmosphere so vividly through both descriptions of the environment and the emotions of Celeste that, as a reader, you are entirely enveloped by the mood of the story. Feelings are the best way to retain memories and the mastery with which Noyes is able to convey them will cause this book to firmly take root and stay embedded in your mind for a very long time.

The Narration

Michelle:  Abby Craden does a wonderful job of capturing the mood of the story and of conveying the emotions of the characters.  She skillfully gives each character a distinct voice and personality that is consistent throughout the story and aligns perfectly with how I imagine the characters would sound. 

The Pros

Anna:  I really liked how descriptive Noyes made Celeste’s environment. She brought all those elements to life and make you experience them in 3-D. I could feel the bitter cold, smell the snow in the air, and truly understand Celeste’s mindset and her worries about her sanity. I felt it all and started wondering what I would do if in that kind of situation.

Michelle:  I completely agree with Anna.  I love how Noyes is able to bring the overall mood of the story to life through such vivid imagery.  I also love the psychological examination of our need for connection, for companionship, for love and how we can be alone even when others are nearby if we aren’t open to forming these connections.

The Cons

This book will make you value every person and everything you have in your life.

annas favourite booksMichelle's Favourite BooksThe Conclusion

Anna: I always love Noyes’ writing, yet I feel I got more than I bargained for with this one. This story took me on an amazing journey with Celeste and showed me how truly valuable it is to connect to others. It’s a story that makes you think and also has you reaching for the nearest loved one. This is definitely a favorite and I can’t wait to see what Noyes has in store for us next.

Michelle: This is a highly engaging and emotionally packed book.  Riveting in its poignant examination of the human psyche and our need for connection, masterful in its creation of mood and brilliant in its characterization, this book is an unforgettable experience.

Excerpt from Alone by E.J. Noyes

Olivia stripped off her jacket and tossed it over one of the kitchen chairs. We stare at each other in silent appraisal. She pulls off her beanie, setting loose dark, curly hair that falls around her shoulders.

I break first. “Come one, the bathroom’s this way.”

She’s wobbling as I half-support, half-carry her up the hallway. My body tingles, maybe just a leftover symptom of the implant shocks. No, I don’t think so. It’s her touching me. Olivia hops over to rest her butt against my sink and begins to unfasten her pants, pushing them down carefully. I look away, but I don’t want to.

“I have Motrin and Tylenol to help with the pain. I’m sorry, nothing stronger.”

“Thank you. I’ll take a couple of Tylenol.”

Still turned at an angle away from her and her gory leg, I pass her the box and she swallows the gels without water before passing the packet back…

“So, what’s the plan?”

“I think I’ll wash it out in the shower first. Is there any antiseptic liquid or wipes in that kit?” She leans heavily against the sink.

“Uh, I’ve got…hydrogen peroxide and saline?”

“Saline will do. Could you please take off my boots?”

Nodding, I crouch down and untie the laces of her leather hiking boots. The right boot slips off easily but the left is harder because I have to try and angle it off her foot while she’s hopping to keep weight from her injured leg…

Burning shame fills my chest. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I could have killed her.

“It’s okay,” Olivia murmurs. “Not your fault. Obviously I went somewhere I shouldn’t have. And it’s just a minor wound, really. Should heal fine.”

“Pardon?”

“It’ll be okay. You don’t need to keep apologizing.”

But I didn’t. Did I?

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781642470475
  • Publisher: Bella Books
  • Audiobook Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Narrator: Abby Craden

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Note: I received a free review copy of Alone by E.J. Noyes. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

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Reviewer at The Lesbian Review
Anna Gram works in entertainment in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not working she loves watching and playing softball, as well as reading lesbian romances. Her favorite authors are Rachel Spangler, MJ Duncan, Kenna White, and Andi Marquette…just to name a few.