Book Review: Take a Hint, Dani Brown

After reading Get a Life, Chloe Brown again I couldn’t not re-read Take a Hint, Dani Brown. On this re-read I think I enjoyed this book even more than the first time with it’s headstrong, powerful heroine and cinnamon roll love interest. Like the first book, Talia Hibbert combines a romance with some important topics including taking time for yourself and men’s mental health.

Star rating: 5 stars

Dani Brown is a PhD student with big career ambitions of being a professor like her idol Inez Holly. She puts everything into her studies, refusing to have relationships after romantic partners didn’t understand her priorities in the past. Zafir Ansari is an ex-rugby player turned security guard who works in Dani’s building where the two of them have a friendly, flirty relationship. Zafir’s passion is his project Tackle It, an organisation that provides support to teenage boys in processing and handling their emotions. Zaf himself has anxiety making it a personal career choice.

When a fire alarm test brings the two their viral social media moment after Zaf rescues Dani from a broken lift, they are left with a tricky decision. Dating Dani would enable Zaf to capitalise on traction the social media viral moment would bring Tackle It, and Dani just wants a friends with benefits situation. The two decide to fake-date to satisfy both their desires – except how will Zaf, the hopeless romantic, deal with falling in love with Dani Brown, romance hating relationship avoider?

My favourite thing about this book is that the characters are so good for each other. Zaf understands Dani’s workaholic nature and brings her food and doesn’t get angry with her when she’s absorbed in her research. Dani respects Zaf’s anxiety and helps him open up about his past experiences in support of Tackle It. I really enjoyed the emphasis on men’s mental health, it’s rare to see a man with anxiety in fiction and it’s very much a part of Zaf’s character throughout. I empathised a great deal with him.

The romance is electrifying as these two cross the boundary between friendship and a relationship, still keeping the routines they had before they started to fake date like Dani bringing Zaf coffee and Zaf giving Dani a protein bar every day. Dani really is clueless when it comes to her feelings – I felt really bad for Zaf because he was head over heels from the start and Dani just wasn’t ready for it.

Overall, a another banger from Talia Hibbert. I love all three books in this trilogy with all my heart as the characters are so well developed and they always tackle some important issues. Zaf really inspires me, he’s one of my favourite love interests in a romance novel. If you’ve read Take a Hint, Dani Brown then let me know what you thought!

Book Review: Second First Impressions

Some books make you feel warm inside right from the very beginning and Sally Thorne’s latest romance does that and more. It’s classic opposites attract, but is more than just a romance. There are complicated family relationships and great friendships that cross generations. Consider my obsessed – this is now my favourite of Sally Thorne’s books and one of my favourite romances of all time.

Star rating: 5 stars

Ruthie is currently filling in for her boss at the luxury retirement village where she has worked for 6 years. Between running errands for the ridiculously rich residents and handing all the administration, she rarely has time for herself – she even lives in an on-site cottage. Along comes Teddy, the son of the property developers that are Ruthie’s bosses. On first impression, Teddy is carefree, hopeless and has bad boy vibes that Ruthie is advised to avoid at all costs. But when Ruthie is forced to hire Teddy as an assistant to the eccentric Parlonis, and let him live next door, can she stay away from his luscious hair and adorable hopelessness?

The characters in this book and the journeys they go on are so wonderful. Ruthie learns to explore the outside world again, taking advice from her new employee Melanie and learning how to be 25 again. Teddy finally finds some routine to his life and has the opportunity to make his dream of having a tattoo studio come true. Together, their romance develops as they learn from each other, and these two make a great pairing because of their differences rather than despite them.

The romance isn’t the only thing I loved – it was really cute to see Ruthie finally making friends her age (especially Melanie). I also really enjoyed the Parlonis stories which provided many hilarious, laugh out loud moments. There is even a cute endangered tortoises side plot which definitely added to my love of this story. I can honestly say I was addicted from the very start and I have not smiled at a book this much in a good while.

Overall, this is such a soft, gentle book about how first impressions aren’t always right, about living with anxiety, and following your dreams. I was really sad when I finished it, and I can’t wait to re-read already! Have you read any books by Sally Thorne? Let me know in the comments!

ARC Review: Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating

This book caught my eye on netgalley because fake dating!!! sapphic!!! what more could I want?!! I was looking forward to seeing the dynamic between the popular girl and the overachiever, and to learning about Bengali culture. I have my issues with this book, but overall I really enjoyed it and it made me smile a lot.

Star rating: 4 stars

Hani and Ishu are seventeen years old – Hani is a friendly popular girl who just wants her friends to take her bisexuality seriously, and Ishu has grown up in the shadow of her sister and just wants to achieve everything her parents have wanted for her – get into the best possible university to become a Doctor. So they begin to fake date – Hani to show her friends she dates girls, and Ishu to use Hani’s popularity to become elected head girl. What could possibly go wrong?

Hani’s story is centred on her friendship with two white girls, Aisling and Dee. Both have issues with everything about Hani, from her sexuality to her religion, their conversations are full of micro aggressions and racist remarks. They won’t eat Bengali food, they never go to halal restaurants and are contributors to bisexual erasure. Things don’t improve when Ishu comes on the scene, and Aisling’s jealousy leads to her doing some really nasty things to Ishu (and don’t get me started on the school’s response to it – the racial discrimination is strong).

Ishu has always been in the shadow of her sister Nik, but when Nik comes home with a surprise her parents couldn’t have predicted, Ishu starts feeling the pressure to be the perfect daughter. She never made the effort to make friends at school, and popularity is needed to be elected head girl. When Hani suggests they fake date, she’s unsure at first but soon sees the benefits to her.

Some of my favourite aspects of the book were when Ishu showed Hani what true friends act like – taking her to halal restaurants (Ishu is not Muslim) and respecting her. I also loved the dynamic between Ishu and her sister Nik now Nik has spent some time away from the environment their parents created. The food descriptions were also great, I just want to try all of the food now!

The issues I had were quite minor – sometimes it was hard to tell which point of view I was reading as Ishu and Hani have similar voices. There is a lot of racism and bisexual erasure throughout the book too, which may be triggering to some. Adiba Jaigirdar does have a content warnings list at the start of the book which is a big plus for her.

Overall, a fun YA romance that I enjoyed reading. I’ll be sure to get to reading The Henna Wars soon after this!