Title: Take a Hint, Dani Brown (review copy)
Series: Brown Sisters #2
Author: Talia Hibbert
Genre/Themes: Contemporary Romance, Bisexuality, Self Worth
Blurb from Goodreads
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?
‘Take a Hint, Dani Brown’ is the second book in Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters series (although to enjoy this book you do not have to have read book one but I HIGHLY recommend that you do. Full review of ‘Get a Life, Chloe Brown’ HERE).
What I really love about this series of books is the diversity and inclusivity that is so easily incorporated into the traditional romantic comedy style narrative. This book is effortlessly diverse for which deserves Hibbert deserves major kudos.
The titular character Dani is a Black, bisexual woman who fully embraces her curves. She’s both dynamic and feisty, super sassy, and so direct about her wants and desires that she is unapologetically in your face. But juxtaposed with this confident exterior is a woman with a vulnerable core who is riddled with self doubt and issues surrounding her self-worth. She’s been burnt by love in the past and has created a system of love-rules to protect herself from possible heartbreak.
Dani is a great character. I truly loved how multilayered she is but to me the real hero of this book is leading man Zaf. I ADORED Zaf.
Zaf is a big, brooding former rugby player who now works as a security guard at the university where Dani is studying for her PhD. He’s pretty much everything that you would want in a stereotypical leading man character in a romance novel in that he’s strong, athletic, and somewhat silent in a mysterious kind of way, and he is more than capable of saving a damsel in distress…
But that’s where the stereotype ends.
First up he’s Pakistani-British and incredibly family oriented. But most importantly, and incredibly intriguingly for the storyline, Zaf lives with anxiety. I loved this so much! It was so refreshing to read about a male character that takes the stereotypes associated with romantic male leads and turns them on their head. Zaf talks openly and honestly about his anxiety, and even has set up an organisation to help young people develop mechanisms to cope with their mental health issues in conjunction with sports and keeping fit. He also is an incredibly intelligent and sensitive character …who likes to read romance novels in his free time… and it was a pleasure to read about this new style of leading man. Honestly he is one of the best leading male characters in a romance novel that I have ever read.
The premise behind the novel is that a video of Zaf rescuing Dani from an on campus building goes viral and to help drum up some publicity for Zaf’s charitable organisation Zaf and Dani agree to fake date with a little friends with benefits action on the side.
And the story is a lot of fun!
It’s interesting seeing these two characters who so clearly are meant to be together dance around each other and build up their sexual and romantic relationship. But for me the actual chemistry between the two characters felt a little forced. I think there was a little too much telling and not enough showing. I guess mostly I found Dani’s feelings for Zaf a little harder to buy into rather than his feelings for her. For so much of the novel we were told Dani is anti-relationship and I think it was slightly overdone and as a reader I felt her journey to love was a little rushed in the end.
I also think the book lacked a little bit on the humour side… I guess I like my romance novels to be a little more rom-com than this one was but there was still a lot to giggle at here so I wasn’t too perturbed by the lack of funny.
In addition, if like me you thought Get a Life, Chloe Brown was steamy then prepare to get seeeeeriously hot under the collar reading this book. Oh my gosh it’s just… well I blushed. A LOT. And I honestly had to skim a lot of the sex parts, not because they weren’t well written but because I prefer my romance a little more PG13 rather than full on over 18s!
Overall though I did really enjoy this book.
The characters were really well drawn out, the book was paced pretty perfectly and I really enjoyed how this book twisted and subverted the traditional tropes of a romance novel.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
This edition publishing 23rd June 2020, Piatkus (Little, Brown Book Group UK)