I’d like to petition for an increase in potential star ratings because Take a Hint, Dani Brown deserves at LEAST 20 stars. It’s a friends-to-lovers, fake relationship, grumpy one and grumpy one (but both secretly soft) dish of deliciousness. Dani is a (supposedly) anti-love, career and family focused woman who’s just looking for her perfect friend with benefits, because who has the time or energy for a relationship? Ew. And Zaf is a romance-reading, ex-pro rugby player cinnamon roll who knows exactly what he wants. Unfortunately, what he wants is forever with a woman who only ever does right now.
When a video of the two of them goes viral and everyone assumes they’re #couplegoals, Zaf’s nonprofit Tackle It, which uses rugby to help boys stay in touch with their emotions and deal with mental health issues, starts getting more attention. Which leads to more donations and more exposure. Which leads Zaf to a crazy idea: a fake relationship with the woman he wants more than his next breath. Somehow – miraculously – Dani agrees. But soon their fake relationship becomes a real “no-strings” affair, lines start to get real blurry, and soon they’ll discover that a very real love is on the line.
Full disclosure: I love everything Talia Hibbert writes. She’s one of my favorite writers, so it really should be no surprise that I’m over here mooning over Dani and Zaf. They are just so PERFECT for each other. I also somehow feel like I’m both Dani and Zaf at the same time? Emotions are the worst but also I’m a romance-novel-reading mushy sap? (A status I am proud of.) I love-LOVE that Zaf reads romance novels and through him Talia perfectly encapsulates why I read romance in a way that my rambling self never could. Also, he reads Dani’s essays. In the library. Before they’re even in a fake relationship. And gives her protein bars because he knows she doesn’t always eat. Swoooooon.
I also really loved Dani’s journey throughout the entire book. As with all our favorite supposedly emotionally-stunted MC’s, Dani’s problem is not a lack of feeling – it’s an abundance. She was burned badly in her past relationships and made the decision to not be hurt again. Unfortunately, the insecurities those relationships created managed to dig their claws deep within her and whisper lies about who she is and what she deserves. I wasn’t sure how to feel about Dani’s complete dismissal of compromise in a relationship – her refusal to make time for another person. It almost made her a quote-unquote unlikable heroine. But then I (and she) realized that when it’s the right person, it doesn’t feel like a compromise and that it’s not about making time, it’s about balance and embracing joy. Dani has to work extra hard to come to the realization she is both capable of giving and deserving of the kind of love Zaf offers. And that dealing with emotions isn’t a bad thing. And she reads Zaf’s favorite romance novels to learn how to woo him. Heart eyes. So many heart eyes.
Like I said. 20 stars.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.