I learned about Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert from my local book club.
Hello, Shameless in St. Louie!
Now, I’ll admit I can be a fickle reader. I’m especially picky when it comes to contemporary romance. Usually I’m hooked at the start, but the moment they finally start smooching all of the tension leaves the book and it’s about logistics, jobs, and family.
Contemporary romance is too much like real life. So, I’ll admit that when the book club picks the contemporary romance I tend to conveniently find another book to read. Thankfully, Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert made quite the impression on my book club friends. A month later they were still singing its praises. So, I reserved the audiobook from the library and thought it would be a nice breezy background read while I worked on a crochet project.
Oh. Friends. Oh …
It was so much more.
Chloe Brown had a near death experience which made her realize just how little of life she actually lived. Because of her fibromyalgia and chronic pain, she made choices based on the fluctuating needs of her body. It wasn’t easy to adventure when the day to day was a challenging unknown. But after her near death experience she became determined to “Get a Life”. So, being a woman after my own heart, she made a list!
The first step was moving out of the fabulous family home and into her apartment. Checkmark!
The remaining items were:
- Get tipsy and have a night on the town.
- Ride a motorcycle.
- Go camping.
- Have meaningless, but amazing, sex.
- Travel the world.
- And do something … bad.
But after moving out she had trouble moving forward. She needed a little push.
Redford “Red” Morgan was the tattooed bad boy handyman of Chloe’s apartment building and he certainly knew how to push Chloe’s buttons. As friendly as he was to the rest of the tenants he had nothing but a scowl for Chloe. The only time Chloe saw him happy was when she spied him through the window in the apartment across the street. It was nighttime and he was painting … shirtless.
She’d only spy a little.
Once… or twice.
After it becomes clear the tension between them was undeniably sexual tension, Chloe asks Red to help her cross some items off her list. But as they get up close and personal she learns more about Red than she ever could have by just spying on him through their windows. She learns about why he was so gruff at her, why he only paints at night, and the past trauma which keeps him from showing anyone his art.
There’s so much more to this book than the deceptively cheerful cartoon cover. This book is dark chocolate salted caramel and espresso. You think you’re getting a little bit of sweet, but it’s deep, flavorful and sensual.
Let’s start with the sweet.
Chloe Brown is a nerdy cutie with a wonderful sense of fashion that leads to one of the most well executed nicknames in romance novel history. I tend to not be a fan of heroes nicknaming their heroines, especially before they’re in a relationship. But Red has some mystical level of bad boy magic that it doesn’t come across as weird. It’s just Red. It’s effortless and natural. Because everything between Chloe and Red was just so natural. That’s what made them a true romance power couple. And they are so, so sexy.
Wait, wait, Em – We’re sticking with the sweet.
Chloe’s sisters! I know they are future book bait. Well I’m the big ole reader fish and I’m caught! I got the audiobook from the library and as soon as I finished it, I purchased Chloe’s book and the sequel Take a Hint, Dani Brown. I’ll be reading and reviewing Dani’s story later this month.
Gigi! The matriarch of the family, Chloe’s grandmother, was absolutely hilarious. I wish I could grow up to be as cool as Gigi. There’s a particularly funny scene when she is finishing up her yoga session that I just adore.
Thus concludes the sweet. Let’s get into the depth.
With nuance and panache Hilbert balances Beatrice and Benedict levels of banter with the emotionally weighty topics of chronic pain and the lingering trauma of abusive relationships. The honesty and heart in which these topics are explored is so lovely.
Perhaps I am stumbling into some golden age of contemporary romance, but I had no idea it could be this good, this full of depth, and this fun at the same time. What a delight.
Also, I need to take a moment to gush over Adjoa Andoh’s performance of this novel. The depth of character and the nuance of the dialects were seamless and beautiful. Chloe was hilarious and adorable with her clipped snip and Red just purred off the page. Glorious.
Okay. It’s time!!
Let’s Talk About the Romance
I read a lot of romance. A lot. I’ve been reading romance on and off since I was eleven. There came a point in my life when I was able to read romance without being a giant blush-giggle. Because I’ve read some stuff. The turn your head forty five degrees and ponder the logistics of what I just read level … stuff.
So, I’m not easily swept up in the love scenes. I enjoy them and I have high expectations for the scenes. I get grumpy if there’s a lame fade to black poorly executed. The characters I like are working very hard to get smooches and really deserve to get their smooches. I’m always very happy when the smooching happens. Smooching is always fun to read.
But I typically don’t get swept up anymore.
Red and Chloe left me flushed and stammering.
Call the fire department!
Woo. Red has a mouth on him. I gasped, I truly did. He said things that most heroes cannot get away with. But it worked. It really worked, Dear Reader.
Here’s why it worked.
It wasn’t just some random “alpha hero crass bedroom talk” fluff. His words worked because Red made Chloe, and subsequently the reader, feel safe. Red was the cake you could have and eat too because he was the bedroom bad boy who was a deeply caring sweetheart. Because Red was a safe, warm, loving hero he could get really dirty. And it really worked.
Talia Hibbert is a fantastically sensual writer. The world is texture and color and sensation. It made the entire reading experience absolutely amazing. But when those two smooched…
Yes. Go read it. You. Right now.
Any moment with Smudge the cat was a magical moment. I love that cat.
Not going to spoil that, friends. It’s too good.
Many thanks to Shameless in St. Louie for putting up with your fickle book club friend. I’m so glad you picked this book!