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: Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Sometimes it’s really difficult to choose a new book to read, and in those moments I go back to the books I love the most. Get a Life, Chloe Brown is the first book in my favourite romance series, and this re-read only confirmed its place at the top of the romance list. It brings together two troubled characters together who are trying to heal from past trauma and creates one of the most supportive romances I’ve ever read.

Star rating: 5 stars (as if it would be anything else)

Our protagonist and titular character Chloe Brown has made a list – a list that aims to help her ‘get a life’. She’s struggled with fibromyalgia for years, and watched all her old friends and fiancé abandon her because of it. When she moves out of the family home and into a flat, the last thing she expected was to start falling for the superintendent she really doesn’t like.

Redford Morgan, known as Red, is trying to get his life back on track. His friend did him a favour and gave him a job as superintendent at a block of flats so he could find his feet and start painting again. Between an abusive past relationship and a loss of confidence in his art, Red has a lot going on. He didn’t intend to fall for one of the residents at his place of work, especially Chloe Brown, who really doesn’t seem to like him.

This book is everything. Chloe has to confront the real reasons behind the creation of her ‘get a life’ list and does this with the help of Red, who shows her what it’s like to have real friends who look out for you. Red takes Chloe on various adventures from bars to camping, all the while thinking of her disability and anticipating her needs, which is something Chloe has never had outside of her family before. Talia Hibbert never pushes Chloe’s disability to the side and I appreciated the way her daily struggles were integrated into the story, and how it demonstrated her toughness. Meanwhile, Red himself has to deal with constantly second-guessing himself and Chloe’s intentions as he is still healing from his trauma. It was good to see a positive but realistic representation of therapy in this book, especially through a male character.

Other highlights were Chloe’s family, particularly seeing Dani and Eve again after reading their respective books. Gigi is also a standout character who I love. Overall, this is a fantastic book with an adorable romance at the centre. Everything from the characters to the plot to the writing is perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. If you want a romance novel that manages to have that squeal-inducing cuteness alongside more serious topics then this one is for you.

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!

Book Review: The Ex Talk

I can’t say I know a lot about public radio in America, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book overall. Rachel Lynn Solomon writes a romance unlike others, and sure, I had mixed feelings on our romantic pairing, but I don’t think it stopped me from having a good time when reading this.

Star rating: 4 stars

Our protagonist is Shay Goldstein, a producer at a public radio station in Seattle. She has been working the same job for 10 years (right since she left college), and has managed to convince herself that she’s happy just being a producer even though she always dreamed of being on the radio.

In comes Dominic Yun, fresh out of a Masters Degree at Northwestern. He is the new prodigy of the small team at PPR, and Shay can’t help but be jealous of the opportunities he is given. Personally, I felt this was Shay’s way of expressing her suppressed unhappiness at her own progression. But it’s not really Dominic’s fault as such, he creates his own opportunities and is lucky to have a sexist boss who gives him so much freedom. Shay, unfortunately, is only a good note taker that’s good with detail in Kent’s eyes.

PPR is really struggling for cash, so when opportunity presents itself, Shay and Dominic are roped into faking being each other’s, presenting their own show called The Ex Talk. Plot twist, they start to fall for each other.

So what did I like about this book? I liked it’s representation of adult loneliness – both Shay and Dominic have few friends and it shows. The characters are far from perfect but I could empathise with them. I genuinely had a good time reading this, especially in the first 75% or so. I felt Shay an Dominic had really good sexual chemistry which was a pleasure to read. The mixed media approach to story-telling (extracts from transcripts and social media) were fun to experience and added to the humour.

There were some aspects that I didn’t like but didn’t really affect my enjoyment for the most part. I just can’t see Shay and Dominic lasting as a couple – Dominic has so much to figure out in his life since he’s only 24 and his immaturity definitely shows in the latter parts of the book. Shay is at a different stage of her life than he is, and I feel like she still has some healing to do before settling down. Also, I feel like their loneliness drew them together but they have to work out whether there’s more than just sexual chemistry between them.

Overall, a great adult debut for Rachel, that I had a great time reading. One thing that really did make me angry though was Shay’s whole adoption of her dog? The rescue centre really wanted an experience dog owner yet they just let her adopt Steve? And then she’s barely ever home because she works until 8pm, no dog should be left alone for that length of time never mind a rescue with issues!

Anyway, this is a long review. Have you read The Ex Talk? What did you think?

Top Ten Tuesday (Valentine’s Day & Love)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This is my first Top 10 Tuesday post, and this week the theme is: Valentine’s Day and Love

Hi Guys! It’s been a while since I did a Top Ten Tuesday but I couldn’t resist the chance to talk about my favourite romance novels. I will make clear which of the books I’m talking about are adult and which are YA, and I wouldn’t recommend adult romances to under 18s but everyone matures at different paces.

1) I can’t resist the chance to talk about my new favourite romance novel – Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert. I connected so much to Eve and absolutely adored the romance. (adult)

2) Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner is a great sapphic romance that I absolutely adored even with a slightly big age gap. (adult)

3) The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa is another favourite of mine, about a wedding planner who gets stood up on her wedding day only to end up working with her ex’s brother in a competition against her ex. (adult)

4) A Duke by Default is a great grumpy and sunshine book that I really enjoyed. I really loved the rural Scotland setting and the lead characters were just perfect. (adult)

5) The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon is definitely up there with my favourites because it centres on a woman in STEM. Also loved the financial investigation plot, so cool! (adult)

6) Well Met by Jen DeLuca is another one I love to bits. It’s enemies to lovers and the setting involves a renaissance faire! What more could you want? (adult)

7) A Pho Love Story by Loan Le is the first YA I’m featuring on this list. I read it recently and it really touched my heart as it mixes interesting family dynamics with a rival family style romance. (YA)

8) Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid is a book that challenges the notion of ‘the one’ and I really loved this take on parallel lives. Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favourite authors of all time so of course I highly recommend this book.

9) A book that strongly features dogs? Count me in. Morgan Matson’s novels are all fantastic romances but I think this is one of my favourites. (YA)

10) OK so I wouldn’t call The Switch by Beth O’Leary a romance per se, but I loved it to pieces and it does have two cute romances in it. Mostly it’s a book about learning from different generations and it’s honestly one of the best contemporary books I’ve ever read (adult).

There we go, 10 romances that I absolutely love. have you read any of these books? Have you got any romances to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: One To Watch

I was not expecting a book about reality TV to capture my heart quite as much as this one. One To Watch actually made me happy cry in places, it was that good. It has a plus-size protagonist (Bea has my heart), a lesbian best friend, plenty of love interests, great positive relationship with a step-parent and more. If you want a book that yes, has its drama, but also has softer emotional parts too, then this is the romance for you.

Star-rating: 5 stars

Main Squeeze is a reality show kind of like how I imagine The Bachelor to be. After Bea’s blog post about its lack of diversity goes viral, the new showrunner Lauren gets in touch, asking Bea to be the new Main Squeeze and try to find love amongst 25 men. Knowing if all goes well it’ll be a huge boost to her career, and with Bea’s determination to show that plus-size people can find love too, she accepts.

The book does really well in showing that though Lauren has her heart in the right place, she really doesn’t understand what this is like for Bea. Bea has to educate her every step of the way after Lauren makes questionable choices that put Bea on the spot throughout the show.

Now on to the 25 men. Some are jerks, as Bea expected. Some are just taking part for the fame that’ll come along with it – Bea is chill with that. And some are actually legitimate love interests for Bea, but of course one of stands out more than the others (no spoilers here).

My favourite part was when it was time for the remaining men to go with Bea to her family home and meet her parents and brothers. There is a really touching moment between Bea, her Mum and her Step-Dad that honestly made me tear up. I really appreciate positive Step-Parent relationships and this one is amongst the best.

Overall, this book is funny and touching, heartwarming and makes you laugh out loud. I’m a huge fan of Bea and her growth in this story, and the romance was super cute too. Have you read One To Watch? Let me know what you think!