This might be a relatively short review since, this being a series and all, I don’t have to go back and talk about the fundamentals of the book seeing as I’d discussed all of that in my review for Get A Life, Chloe Brown, but I am extremely happy to see that Talia Hibbert has kept up the momentum and didn’t disappoint with this next book in The Brown Sisters series.
Sometimes when an author has such a strong first book in a series, regardless of how many books they’ve written, the second one doesn’t always stand up with the first, thus creating Second Book Syndrome. I would say it’s less prominent in the romance genre since most romance series are a bunch of standalones within the same universe and escaping Second Book Syndrome is easier than with a fantasy series. At least it is in my experience. So though I never expected Hibbert to fall victim to second book syndrome I am still extremely pleased to see her escape it nonetheless. Everything I loved about her writing was found again in Take A Hint, Dani Brown, and I truly feel it’s impossible not to love a book like this. There’s heart, there’s endless humour, and of course there’s a romance you root for with characters anyone can relate to.
I think what I love most about Hibbert’s writing and crafting of this book, and the series as a whole, is how she writes vulnerable and emotional male characters which is like seeing a unicorn in the genre of romance books. Talia Hibbert ain’t got time for your toxic alpha males, thank you very much. I absolutely adored Zafir’s character and I loved how Hibbert made him not just a man living with anxiety but how he was a man who believed his purpose in life was to teach young boys and men to be in touch with their feelings, especially in the sports world. It felt like a great social commentary on the toxic masculinity found in sports and how men typically feel like they can’t talk about their feelings even though they should, and I thought Zaf was a great character to bring about this discussion and knock down the wall. I also loved how Hibbert made him a romance reader, and really dove deep into the reason behind why he loves romance books, and showed how this big, stoic, muscular man can have emotions and actually understand said emotions. He has to be one of the best male protagonists I’ve encountered in the genre thus far. And as for Dani, I felt like Hibbert kind of flipped the script and made her female protagonist the one who was afraid of commitment and it was very interesting to read. Again, the stigma is that men don’t have emotions and women have all the emotions, but Dani proved how there are a lot of women who don’t talk about or even address their emotions and lock them up so tight they don’t know what to do with them. But beyond that, I loved how confident Dani was of herself and how she had such passion for her work and academia as a whole. I know she views her social awkwardness and bluntness as negative things but I think that’s what make her so unique as well as a badass because she carries herself with such an “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude, which is amazing.
I will say the only thing that did bother me a bit was watching Dani shut down and push Zaf away when he told her he loved her, which was definitely a mistake on his part, but it killed me to watch her refuse to believe anyone could love her, especially Zaf. But it also cut me deep because on that level I absolutely relate to Dani and the notion of her not understanding why someone could love her, or even think she deserves it for just being herself, is something I feel and understand as well. And I guess my frustration at her is what my friends feel towards me when I talk like that, but it’s different. However, seeing Dani come back from that little bump and finally tackle her feelings and doing the big, grand gesture to win Zaf back like he’d find in his romance books was wonderful. I adored reading about their relationship and how clear it was they were falling for one another but how in denial they were about anything being real. Such is the beauty of the fake dating trope, which was executed so perfectly. Their friendship built a great foundation for the fake relationship and all the time spent together and learning one another allowed real feelings to blossom. Dani and Zaf really brought out the best in the other, creating amazing balance and support, and I can’t help but smile thinking about them.
If you’re going to read any kind of romance series this year, I highly recommend The Brown Sisters series. Hibbert is a wonderfully talented writer, creating amazing characters to root for and relate to as well as laugh out loud stories, complete with heartfelt romances. Honestly, reading these books is akin to a warm hug and though I don’t like hugs, I absolutely love this book. I hope to see Hibbert dominate this genre for years to come.
Also, Talia Hibbert, I’m still free to be friends if you’re free to be friends, just let me know. I am still here. I can be friends. Just name the time and place.
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?