A library copy of Take a Hint, Dani Brown finally became available, so I was able to start on the next Brown Sisters book. I enjoyed it, though not as as much as the first one.
Dani Brown is a PhD student with no love life, and she’s not looking for one. After some disastrous and very painful relationships, she has decided that she only kind of relationship she is looking for is friends with benefits. Recently that well has been dry, so she prays for a sex buddy, and into her life walks Zafir Ansari. They already knew each other because Zaf provides security for the building Dani teaches in, but they go viral after he is seen rescuing her from an elevator during a fire drill. They are assumed to be a couple, which brings positive attention to an organization Zaf runs that helps support mental health in boys, and Dani agrees to fake a relationship with him to help bring in funds for the organization. They are, of course, extremely attracted to each other, and their friendship deepens and becomes sexual, but Dani is afraid of love and Zaf is the opposite, so they have some things to work through.
There are a couple of things that I particularly appreciate in Hibbert’s books. One is how she handles important and sensitive issues. In Get a Life, Chloe Brown, it was fibromyalgia and an unhealthy former relationship. In Take a Hint, Dani Brown, it’s anxiety (and having just started the third book, I know she tackles autism, as well). As both a therapist and someone who has anxiety, I feel like Hibbert wrote about Zaf’s anxiety realistically.
The other element I really like is the complete acceptance, welcoming in fact, of Dani’s sexuality. There is never any indication of external or internalized judgment for her interest in sex without it being part of a relationship. While there are consequences to this approach to sex, they are natural ones, such as people developing feelings for her that she doesn’t reciprocate, but she is up front with people from the start. Given how negatively people can view sexual women, it’s refreshing.
This was a pleasant read, though at times it seemed a bit repetitive to me. I like living in the world of the Brown sisters. But there was something special about the first book that this follow-up just doesn’t quite reach. I still enjoyed myself, though, and I’m looking forward to finishing the third book.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown
Another winner from Talia Hibbert. We get to the youngest of the Brown sisters, Eve. She hops from job to job without sticking to any for very long, and her parents have had enough and tell her that she needs to get a job and stick with it and eventually move out. While on a drive to clear her head, she comes across Castell Cottage, the B&B run by Jacob Wayne. He needs a chef, and Eve spontaneously decides to interview. The interview doesn’t go well, but then Eve accidentally hits Jacob with her car and stays at Castell Cottage to help out as Jacob recovers. They begin to get along, become friends, and discover their attraction to each other.
I love the character of Eve. She’s sweet and bubbly and learning to be herself, and I love how that plays out as she meets people who genuinely care about her. Hibbert continues her #OwnVoices trend, in this case writing about autistic characters. Jacob is on the autism spectrum, and (spoiler, I guess), Eve comes to realize that she is, too, and that in fact her sisters might be, as well. But neurodivergence isn’t cookie cutter, and Jacob and Eve express autistic traits differently, which I appreciated.
Castell Cottage almost seems like one of those locations that could become its own character in a book, and I do wish we’d gotten to see more interactions with the guests (or overhear more interactions, like the conversation Eve and Jacob heard from the adjoining room while they were in the storage room – the snooping was fun).
For me, this book ranks between Chloe’s and Dani’s stories, but I really just loved all of the Brown sisters, and it’s sad to see the series end.