Review | Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

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?

After how much I loved Get a Life, Chloe Brown, I knew I had to read Take a Hint, Dani Brown right away – especially because it dealt with fake dating, which is my favourite trope. I had high expectations going into this book, and it definitely delivered.

I related to Dani so much: she’s an academic and she doesn’t want a relationship to derail her career trajectory. I appreciated that, despite her career ambitions, she also took time for herself, since burnout is a serious issue and isn’t discussed often in fiction. Like her sister Chloe, Dani is quick-witted and snarky, and though her banter could be cutting at times, it was quite fun to read.

Zaf was such a refreshing love interest. He subverted so many stereotypes: even though he’s a security guard and former rugby player, he loves romance novels and is a strong believer in open communication and vulnerability. He was very open about his struggle with grief and anxiety, and I loved seeing him find his happily ever after.

Overall, Take a Hint, Dani Brown was a really enjoyable read, with a refreshing take on the fake lovers trope. I can’t wait to read Eve’s story (and everything else Talia Hibbert writes).

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