Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert was at the top of a list I like to call “ARCs I need before I explode.” Thankfully, NetGalley provided me with an ARC before that unfortunate incident occurred.
TRIGGER WARNING: off-page death
Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral…
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.
When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?
Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.
Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
Get a Life, Chloe Brown was one of the first romance novels that I’ve read in a long time, and I absolutely loved it (see review here). So, when I heard that the second book was being released, I could not WAIT to get my hands on it. I even did a mini-happy dance when I got approved for the ARC. But I was a little worried that Chloe’s story had raised my expectations to an unrealistic level. But have no fear, Dani’s story completely met and even exceeded those super-high expectations!
The book started out on a funny note, and it only got better from there. Like the first book in this series, I laughed out loud so many times while reading. There’s witty banter between all the characters. I absolutely adored the dialogue throughout the story. Chloe and Red even make an appearance!
Talia Hibbert has an incredible knack for writing romances that make me laugh, cry, and totally dream of meeting a guy that’s half as awesome as the ones in her books. Zaf isn’t what I’d have expected at all. He’s a former pro rugby player, but he listens to audiobooks (romance of course), struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, he’s handsome, and runs a charity called Tackle It. 😍 Dani is no slouch either. She’s brilliant, motivated, focused, beautiful, openly bisexual, and isn’t afraid to speak up about what she wants. I could see that they’re the perfect couple so early on, even if they didn’t realize it for a deliciously long time. It allowed the anticipation to build perfectly.
“Her profession was straightforward and easily controlled and required qualities she naturally possessed, such as laser-like focus and an enthusiasm for close reading and analysis, instead of qualities she didn’t, such as the ability to process and express irrelevant rubbish like her emotions.”
“See, what Zaf really wanted was to be happy, and he’d read enough romance novels to know how to make that happen. First, you reached your goals and shit. (He was working on that.) Second, you found a good woman who made you think bad thoughts and lived happily ever after with her.”
The gender roles are reversed in the story, and I enjoyed every second of it! So many romances have the woman as the sensitive romantic, and the man as the one in charge. Dani and Zaf completely change that dynamic — she goes into this looking for a booty call, and discovers that Zaf is the hopeless romantic. I love a great book that turns typical expectations upside down.
The story really discusses anxiety in such a sensitive way, and just like Talia Hibbert rocked the chronic illness rep in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, she did a great job with the mental health rep here. It also explores some very relevant and important topics, such as feminism, grief, trauma, racism, trust, and toxic masculinity. These topics are all addressed appropriately and in the best possible way.
“Perhaps because Tackle It was less about rugby itself, and more about equipping young men with the tools to understand their emotions and express them beyond the boundaries of toxic masculinity.”
Last but certainly not least, there’s just enough steamy scenes included in the story. Warning — they are a little graphic, and there’s no shortage of profanity used in the story. But as long as you don’t mind those, I’d strongly suggest that you PICK THIS UP once it’s released.
Categories: Book Review