Earlier this year, I read Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert – and I found it to be pretty middling. It felt like a million romances I had read before and didn’t really bring a lot to the table. For the sequel, Take A Hint, Dani Brown – I decided to give it a shot after seeing markedly more positive reviews for it. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good fake dating trope – especially one with a lead who definitely doesn’t ever want a relationship.
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?
One thing I really, really like about Talia Hibbert’s books is how diverse her characters are – both of the leads are BIPOC. I really enjoyed getting to see snippets of Zafir’s family and culture throughout the book. I ended up learning lots, and googling a bunch of recipes (I’d recommend having food on hand for this one – the food is described excellently and will make your mouth water).
If fake dating is your jam, you’re going to love Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. It’s one of my favorite executions of this trope – Zaf and Dani had chemistry off the chartsfrom the start. The scene where Zaf carries Dani out of the building (firefighter style) gave me straight up butterflies. Reading about the two of them falling for each other, and Dani falling in denial about her feelings, was adorable and heartwarming. It also felt realistic – Dani resisted changing her life and mind around Zaf, which made their relationship all the more interesting.
I adore books about women who love and are committed to their careers (also, big points if their job isn’t a stereotypical rom-com job – hello bakers and burgeoning journalists). Dani is a professor who is fully dedicated to her research and bettering herself in her field – she puts immense pressure on herself to be at the top of her field. She’s so driven that she’s regularly sleep-deprived and thinks of little else other than her studies, until she and Zaf start their fake romance. What I really loved about this fake romance was that it helped make Dani a better, more well-rounded person – she didn’t lose her drive for her research, but it did open her social horizons and helped her learn to let people in.
Fake dating, diverse characters, and a hint of witchy goodness – Take A Hint, Dani Brown has it all. It’s one of the best rom coms that I’ve read this year, and I can’t wait to read the next Brown sister book. If you’re looking for other books that feature fake dating, check out The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, and The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. 5/5