Thursday, March 22, 2018

Jen's Review: A Girl Like Her

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on March 29th for a chance to win an ecopy of your own!

A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Nixon House (March 14, 2018)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Everyone has secrets. He wants all of hers.

Meet the man next door...

After years of military service, Evan Miller wants a quiet life. The small town of Ravenswood seems perfect—until he stumbles upon a vicious web of lies with his new neighbour at its centre.

Ruth Kabbah is rude, awkward, and, according to everyone in town, bad news. Thing is, no-one will tell Evan why. Does she perform ritual sacrifices? Howl at the moon? Pour the milk before the tea? He has no clue.

But he desperately wants to find out. Because Ruth doesn’t seem evil to him; she seems lonely. And funny, and clumsy, and secretly quite sweet, and really f*%king beautiful…

The more Evan’s isolated, eccentric neighbour pushes him away, the more he wants her. Her—and all her secrets. Because there’s no way a girl like Ruth truly deserves the town’s scorn.

…Is there?

Please note: this book contains mentions of intimate partner violence that could potentially trigger certain audiences. 

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Reviews for Hibbert's Books:

Jen's Review:

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about why Talia Hibbert’s books just work for me. Because Romancelandia, let me tell you, they WORK for me. Way back in December (that’s only 4 months, but in 2018 time, that’s roughly 400 years?), I predicted that she would be a real powerhouse, and I honestly feel like I haven’t been this in front of something since Harry Potter. (I was recommending Harry Potter to people back in 1997 when no one had ever heard of it before. Imagine that!) So, instead of a straight-up review, this is a top ten list:

Top 10 Reasons (in no particular order) to just fucking read Talia Hibbert already!

  1. Every character is an individual: Maybe this sounds dumb, but there are a lot of writers who just churn out the exact same kind of characters in every book. You know what I mean, right? Sometimes I want that predictable author because it’s comforting, but it can also be stultifying and boring. But every single Talia Hibbert character is their own distinct person, and I never know what to expect. In A Girl Like Her, Ruth is an artist, is autistic, and doesn’t have time for your nonsense. And Evan, her new next door neighbor is a big, fuzzy bear of a man who just wants to make her lasagna. 
  2. Awesome heroines who DNGAF: Her heroines are so distinct, but there is an X-factor: they are all strong, capable, independent black women. Ruth is living in a small town and has a reputation as home-wrecker due to an ex-boyfriend who did her wrong. She struggles with acceptance and belonging. She’s mad, she’s retreated from the world, but she will be goddamned if she’s going to change for anyone. From her tweets, it seems readers are giving Talia Hibbert a hard time about that. I don’t really have words for that, just a fierce frown of displeasure and a fervent wish for us white readers to be better, because I LOVE when the romances I read have lots of models for strong womanhood. 
  3. More regular people than billionaires: I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the billionaires, bosses, and captains of industry. There was a prince in a recent one of her books, but her characters are mostly people working 9-5 jobs.  Evan is a metal worker and ex-soldier. Ruth writes web comics. In her books, people do regular things: run out of tampons, volunteer at the local library, and basically just try to get out of bed and make it through the day. 
  4. Family is powerful and important, and mothers are especially revered: In this book, Ruth deeply loves her sister and mother. Ruth’s relationships with them are a struggle because sometimes they want more from her than she can give.  But that doesn’t mean she resents her family, her love for them is fierce and true. Evan’s story is much sadder. His father died when he was 15, and then a few years later he lost his mother to cancer. He longs for family and home, and his kindness is rooted in wanting to emulate the goodness of his parents. Evan befriends a coworker whose mother is dying from cancer. It’s not creepy or weird, it’s sweet. Evan just wants to help others cope with what he went through. He is incredibly nervous about meeting Ruth’s mother, because this is a man who knows family is important. 
  5. The heroes treat their heroines as capable and able to solve their own problems: There are more than a few great scenes in A Girl Like Her where Ruth has the opportunity to confront those who have wronged her. And when Ruth tells or signals Evan to let her handle it...HE DOES. This shouldn’t feel revolutionary, but here we are. I am grateful for heroes that don’t think their job is to solve the heroine’s problems for her. It’s glorious. It’s one of the biggest reasons I always believe these HEAs: because strong, independent, fierce AF women need men who respect them and let them be the problem solvers in their own lives. And Talia Hibbert delivers that Every. Single. Time. 
  6. The characters are body positive: When Ruth and Evan finally get it on, she takes off her clothes and gets under the covers. He thinks she’s shy or embarrassed and wonders if he should turn out the lights. She tells him she’s not shy, and then sits up in bed, letting him look at her. She “wondered if she should’ve done this lying down, to minimise the roll situation, but then decided that rolls were fine. If they were going to do anything interesting, rolls would eventually occur...Plus, Evan didn’t seem to have any complaints.” Then, they have hot, steamy sex. As it should be!
  7. Consent, Consent, Consent: Ruth’s previous lovers were jerks. She says that her ex “didn’t really care if I said yes. Most people don’t care about yes. A few more people care about no.” Evan is pretty angry when he hears this. But this isn’t a conversation that changes his behavior; he has cared about her yeses from the very beginning. When she asks him to leave, he goes. When she needs privacy, he gives it to her. And when it comes to sex,  he tells her, “It’s just, I want to do things with you. Not to you. There’s a difference.” Isn’t that lovely? The most perfect description of consent I can imagine. 
  8. These books are 100% Sex-positive: After finally disclosing the whole story of the terrible ex-boyfriend, Evan wonders how Ruth also got a reputation as the town whore. She explains that she was so upset at how the ex made her feel, “weird and fucked up and kind of gross” that she did sleep with other guys to see if she could make herself feel better. She tells Evan, “People do exaggerate, though. It was only, like, fifteen guys.” Evan’s response wasn’t shocked or upset or negative, instead he responds dryly, “That’s disappointing...People act like you slept with a Roman legion. You act like you slept with a Roman legion.” Again, I don’t want to be surprised by how Evan takes the news that she’s had previous lovers, but we all know the impossible standards romance heroines are held to
  9. I love the writing: Talia Hibbert has an eye for the perfect metaphor. In every one of her books, there are a few moments where I just think, “oh, that’s PERFECT!” For example, when interacting with a man who is trying to subtly share the town gossip, Evan thinks, “He was like a seller at the market..turning over bad fruit so shoppers couldn’t see the mould.” Technically, that’s a simile, but you know what I mean. She has a way with words and a finely tuned sense of figurative language.
  10. I love her worlds: There’s something about her world-building. Even when it’s full of drama, they are fully inclusive worlds, and the way characters act and interact is so real--- difficult coworkers, nosy plumbers, obnoxious drunk dudes occasionally doing the right thing, on-line friends you can tell anything to, swoon-worthy scenes of falling in love, hot sex, heroic siblings, old friends being happy to see you, frustrated Moms just telling their kids to get along---it’s all there! Every book of hers just makes me happy, and they make me appreciate the characters in my own life a little more. Now, go and read some Talia Hibbert books! 


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Jen received an e-ARC of this book from the author.

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Thanks for the review, Jen! I totally agree, based on the two books I've read from her so far. I'm behind, but I'm trying to savor her books because they are, indeed, that amazing. :)


Until Next Time,

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