It’s hard for me to review books I just respond instinctually to. Something about it just clicked with me. I love Hibbert’s voice as a writer (she’s so funny!). I love the way she seems to so effortlessly create characters that come to life in my mind so easily, even the secondary and tertiary ones. I love the way that she makes situations with not very high stakes and not very much plot seem so important because the stakes aren’t practical but emotional, and she treats emotions very seriously (even when there are lots of jokes). There’s a thing in romance novels where the authors give each half of the romantic pair An Issue to deal with, and this can sometimes seem very formulaic or constructed, but the way Hibbert does it, it just feels organic. Zaf is Zaf, and Dani is Dani.
This book also does something I love, which is to take a ridiculous premise and treat it seriously. The fake dating trope is one I love when done right, but there’s an element here of metaness, because Zaf loves romance novels, and is very familiar with the trope. The book also isn’t afraid to just let them talk to one another. I feel this is an underrated thing in books, when two characters just have a conversation, and the book isn’t rushing to the next plot point. There’s room to breathe here, and because of that, you feel the emotions more when they happen. We see Dani and Zaf being friends, and growing their relationship to something more. We don’t need to be told.
And as mentioned previously, if you like audio, this one is excellent. The narrator they chose for Dani has this lovely mix of humor and gravitas, just like Dani, and her accent is really fun.
CBR Bingo: Yellow (and two more bingos!)