Book Review: “Take a Hint, Dani Brown” by Talia Hibbert

Blurb & Info

(via 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?

Publication Date: June 23, 2020

Publisher: Avon

Pages: 361

Series: The Brown Sisters #2

Review

I read the previous book in this series, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, last week! (You can read my full review here.) I picked up these two books for my December 2020 romance-focused TBR because I watched Joel of the booktube channel fictionalfates do a romance reading vlog. He reviewed Take a Hint, Dani Brown very positively and discussed the anxiety representation in the book, and as a person with horrific anxiety I was naturally intrigued.

Let me just say that I loved, loved the anxiety representation in Take a Hint, Dani Brown, and that I also loved how Hibbert smashed the stereotype of anxiety being more of a women’s problem by having the male lead, Zafir, be the one with an anxiety disorder instead of Dani. Zafir’s anxiety is a problem that he constantly wrestles with throughout the book, and it isn’t something that Dani “cures” through the power of love or a multitude of mind-blowing orgasms or whatever. She does do research on anxiety for Zafir’s sake, which I just found absolutely touching and so beautiful (my boyfriend treats my anxiety as an irritation, though he doesn’t shame me for it) and when Zafir has a panic attack she responds in a way that actually made me cry with how supportive and helpful it was.

I can’t really speak for Zafir’s representation as a Muslim man, since I am neither Muslim nor come from a Muslim cultural background, but Take a Hint, Dani Brown avoided all of the negative stereotypes that I’m aware of being associated with Islam — for example, Zafir’s female relatives aren’t unhappy with their faith, and aren’t oppressed or controlled by their male relatives.

Just like in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, I wish more of the side characters had been developed. All of Hibbert’s characters are interesting, and I wish I could have seen more of Kiran and Jamal, as well as Zafir’s mother. I love Fatima’s nickname and smiled every time I read it. On Danika’s side of the coin, Sorcha was an absolute delight. Eve and Chloe (Dani’s sisters) also make multiple appearances, but my beloved Gigi was relegated to the background. (I love the matriarch of the Brown family so much. I would read an entire book about Gigi’s adventures at any stage of her life — do you hear that, Talia?)

Unlike in Get a Life, Chloe Brown, however, the ending of Take a Hint, Dani Brown wasn’t a severe disappointment. I will not go into specifics of how I was disappointed by the first book in this series, but suffice to say I was holding my breath for the entire second half of Take a Hint, Dani Brown as I waited for the gut punch that would utterly deflate my enjoyment of the book. But it never came! I was so relieved. The final conflict between Dani and Zaf felt realistic to their situation, and was resolved in a way that felt extremely natural and fluid.

Finally, the writing style of Take a Hint, Dani Brown felt much the same as it did in Get a Life, Chloe Brown — which is to say, extremely conversational and readable. I loved the banter between various characters, and there is a lot of humor and heart to balance the steaminess. Overall, this book was an absolutely wonderful read, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to dip their toes into the romance genre for the first time.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5


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