Desert Isle Keeper
Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Talia Hibbert is a master craftsperson when it comes to romance novels, and she continues to demonstrate her ability to woo a reader’s heart with her latest release, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, book two in her Brown Sisters series.
Part-time teacher and PhD student Danika – Dani – Brown has a great life. She loves her job, she has her best friend, Sorcha, with her, and her life’s on a solid course overall – even though she cracked an egg into a bowl of cake mix, stirred it up and ate it in the wake of her last break-up.
Handsome university security guard and ex-rugby player Zafir “Zaf” Ansari is both romantic and practical – the kind of guy who would run up several flights of stairs to save someone, and also someone who listens to romance audiobooks during his lunch breaks. But he’s got his own scars, and suffers from serious anxiety following the death of his father and brother in a car crash.
Zaf has a crush on Dani, but Dani is resistant to anything but a fling at the moment. After the breakup of her last relationship with her girlfriend, Jo (the one that caused her to eat raw cake mix), she’s sworn she’s going to have a little fun with her romantic life instead of worrying about love.
Fate intervenes when Dani becomes trapped in an elevator during a fire drill and Zaf rescues her from her plight in a most dashing way. A video of him carrying her out of the building bridal-style hits Twitter and goes viral. Dubbed #drrugbae by the Twitter populace, Zaf and Dani strike a bargain – they decide to pretend to date for the sake of Zaf’s charity, which teaches underprivileged kids to play soccer. This is all well and good to Dani because hey, she might get her desired fling out of it after all. But to keep up the ruse they have to spend time together – and Dani finds herself, step by step and moment by moment, falling in love with Zaf.
I love Talia Hibbert’s prose, and Take a Hint, Dani Brown is a warm embrace of a book – terribly funny, and also terribly real and romantic. There’s so much to love about this book, from its charming characters to its warm university town setting to the way it manages to explain just how scary allowing oneself to fall in love can be.
Dani is a wonderfully nerdy person – she’s a geek for education and not afraid to show it. She’s also a sensualist, a lover of food, a person who loves her family and her best friend (naughty Sorcha is one of my favorite supporting characters, along with Zaf’s cousin, Fatima) and dedicated to her religion (though Sorcha declares jokingly that she and Dani are “shitty witches” due to their dilatory worship). The negative effects of her own mistakes with Jo have closed Dani off to romance, but she tries to be confident in who she is.
Zaf, meanwhile, is all exposed heart – it’s on his sleeve and beating away for all to see.
Dani and Zaf have fire – good banter, great chemistry, a believable romance. They are a wonder to behold, and they have an intriguing and powerful connection that keeps the reader eagerly flipping the pages. They balance each other’s weaknesses and strengths beautifully.
Along with the aforementioned Fatima and Sorcha, we do get to see Chloe, Dani’s sister, though much more briefly in this volume. Everyone – from the kids under Zaf’s tutelage we meet briefly to Dani’s colleagues – all feel fun and fleshed out.
As always, the world of academia flowers beneath Hibbert’s pen. The end result is a wonderful, realistic romance that combines humor and tenderness, and real, adult emotions with realistic reactions. Take a Hint, Dani Brown is a beautiful romance that deserves every accolade which will come its way.