Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamourous family’s mansion. The next items?
– Enjoy a drunken night out.
– Ride a motorcycle.
– Go camping.
– Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
– Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
– And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.
Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.
But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…
“…maybe poor health wasn’t something that should de-sex a person.”
Yes to this book. Talia Hibbert wrote a smart, compassionate, sexy as hell romance with a chronically ill female lead and she fucking hit it out of the ball park.
This is enemies-to-lovers rom-com gold. I had the best time reading this book. Here is proof that you can write a character who is in near-constant pain without letting her illness become who she is. Which I have seen so, so many times in various forms of media.
Don’t get me wrong, her fibromyalgia definitely impacts her life, in large and small ways, including her relationships with others, but instead of making it the central focus of this story, Hibbert makes it one of many facets.
The male lead, for instance, is in the process of healing after an abusive relationship. I loved that he willingly sought help in his recovery. That he wasn’t afraid of his emotions like most other heroes in romance seem to be…still…somehow…in 2019.
Chloe is also plus size, and I realized something while reading this. In so many other romances I’ve read with plus size or fat heroines, her size is almost…othered. Borderline fetishized. Like, the male lead can’t think any thoughts about her without fixating on her soft thighs, or her rounded stomach, or her full breasts, etc. In this, Red just thinks “Chloe’s thighs”, and for me, the lightbulb went off.
I really liked Red as a male lead, for a variety of reasons. He was so respectful and empathetic to Chloe throughout, without babying her because she was sick. One of my favorite parts was when he realized they would have to delay being intimate because of her illness. Instead of being a prat or internally complaining about it, he instead ratcheted up the sexual tension between them, so that by the time they’d finally be able to do something about it, they’d both be ravenous.
I liked Chloe just as much. Dry humor is so, so hard to pull off in written form, but Hibbert, being British, was (unsurprisingly) able to convey both Chloe’s sly wit and subtle snark with aplomb.
My one and only complaint about this book is that when the “big misunderstanding” does eventually come, it isn’t told through the perspective of the character causing the break, and so for me it was a little harder to swallow because of it. Especially when these two had previously avoided similar pitfalls with believable and refreshing openness and self-awareness.
But I still recommend the hell out of this. It was such a fun, sexy, progressive romance, and I cannot wait for the rest of the books in the series.