Thursday, June 18, 2020

Tiny Tidbits: Adult Edition

Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Talia Hibbert
Series: The Brown Sisters, #2
Age/Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Avon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral...

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?
Danika Brown knew what she wanted and what she didn't want. She was looking to become a star in her field, and though she didn't have time for feelings and attachments, she still had "needs". She thought Zaf would be a suitable friend-with-benefits partner, but this hopeless romantic may end up being the one, who worms his way into her heart. 

I fell in love with the Brown sisters, when they were first introduced in Get a Life, Chloe Brown. Each sister was so wonderful and unique, and it was such a treat getting to know Dani better this time. Watch out! Because Dani Brown is a force. I couldn't imagine how I would handle meeting Dani in person, because I was fully enraptured by her on page. She was brilliant and driven, and wholly her own woman. She had a way with words, and often had me laughing up a storm. 

And, then, there was Zaf. My goodness! Talia Hibbert writes THE BEST heroes. On the surface, Zaf was this built-like-a-brick house former rugby star, who commonly wore a scowl. But, underneath, he was a sensitive man, dealing with anxiety and grief. He read romance books, doted on his niece, and quietly started a foundation to teach boys about mental health issues, while combating toxic masculinity. 
"Sweetie, are you crying?"
"No," he said. "I'm leaking masculine pain from my eyeballs."
The beauty of this union was that they both were so good for each other. He was supportive and encouraging of Dani's career aspirations, while she helped Zaf embrace his pain and grief. I relished those deep and tender moments, which Hibbert gave us in between the fantastic banter and steamy scenes. Zaf and Dani had an undeniable attraction and passion for each other, but they also had something that went way beyond that. I had zero problems with this ship, and I was cheering for them the entire time. 

Overall: A funny and witty romance, which made me laugh, smile, and swoon.  

Head Over Heels

Hannah Orenstein
Age/Genre: Woman's Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
From the author of the Love at First Like and Playing with Matches, an electrifying rom-com set in the high stakes world of competitive gymnastics, full of Hannah Orenstein’s signature “charm, whimsy, and giddy romantic tension” (BuzzFeed).

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

Perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jasmine Guillory, Head Over Heels proves that no one “writes about modern relationships with more humor or insight than Hannah Orenstein” (Dana Schwartz, author of Choose Your Own Disaster).
Avery spent her whole life preparing for her Olympic dream just to see it slip out of reach. But, after seven years with little direction, a breakup may be the push Avery needs to start searching for her new dream. 

These stories about losing your way and finding your new life goals seem to be making their way to me lately. I don't know if it's the universe trying to tell me something or what, but I really enjoyed accompanying Avery on her personal journey. 

There was no doubt, that she had been struggling for years. Her life had been eat, breathe, sleep gymnastics for so long, and without a plan B, she was left with no direction. She lost her drive and ambition, but wow! It was so wonderful to see her rekindle that spark. I was so happy for her, when she was able to find her place in the sport again, even if her role was different. 

I liked that there was a LOT of gymnastics in this book too. Orenstein showed the good, the bad, and the ugly side of the sport. I got to experience the highs and lows, that come with winning and losing, and saw the physical and mental toll the sport could take on an athlete. The author also included sub plots involving toxic coaching and the sexual abuse scandal, that rocked US women's gymnastics, which were both timely and relevant. 

Though this wasn't the rom-com I was expecting, I found myself captivated and fully invested in Avery's comeback. 

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

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