All the Best Nights by Hanna Earnest August 24, 2021 by Carina Contemporary Romance Reviewed by Kate
Disclosure: Hanna Earnest has been a friend for a little more than a year, but I had not read this book before receiving the ARC from Netgalley.
Hanna Earnest is my friend, and to be perfectly transparent, because she probably won’t read this review: I mostly downloaded the ARC on Netgalley to see if I was mentioned in the acknowledgements. (I am, phew.) We’ve been in romance book clubs for almost two years together, and this has given me an understanding of what exactly she likes in a romance novel, and since it doesn’t always match up with what I want in a romance novel, I was slightly concerned I wouldn’t like her book. “It’s a debut novel,” I thought, “and I don’t want to have to lie about liking it.”
My concerns were misplaced and I could not have been more wrong.
All the Best Nights wrecked me in the most delightful of ways and it is impossible to convey how much I enjoyed it. It’s clever (and even funny at times) but All the Best Nights is an angst-soaked, roller-coaster of an experience that left me so fulfilled and simultaneously so wrung-out.
In a genre that sometimes relies on “if they would just talk there would be no conflict,” All the Best Nights does the opposite – Bran and Nelle do talk, but that doesn’t always mean they understand each other. Bran, grieving, trying so hard, wanting so much, is slow to catch on, and Nelle is just so sharp and fast and quick to judge, but the explosion when they get together is everything. They each come with their own set of baggage, and watching how they deal with their own issues, and then how they navigate each other and the world is amazing.
The thing I most want to convey is how deftly Earnest is able to twist the emotional knife. The way she just drops in the most heart-wrenching of details as if it’s not going to cut out the heart of the reader (or Nelle or Bran) is astounding. I have read very few romance novels that manage to tie together so many little building blocks of a relationship – usually there’s one big reveal (he loved her all along because he did X at the beginning!) but here they just keep coming and coming.
One of the most relatable aspects of All the Best Nights is Nelle’s internal struggle with her desire to be with Bran, but also her desire to ensure she maintains her individuality in the face of a world which wants to refer to women only in relation to the men around them. I don’t think that you have to be a pop star to feel that, because this is a dilemma many women face on a regular basis. And sure, maybe being an internationally known pop star exacerbates the issue, but this internal crisis caused such a visceral, emotional feeling when I was reading, because it is an issue that hits close to home.
I truly, truly did try to find things I could critique for this review, wanting to be as impartial as possible. And there are small things that I could bring up, but nothing that I would have mentioned in any other book, and to mention them just for the appearance of impartiality wouldn’t really be fair to this book. So, if you like any of these tropes: rock-stars, nobody knows but us, it’s only one night but then I can’t get enough of you, enemies in public but actually we’re banging, you should definitely give All the Best Nights a shot.