Dani Brown needs some loving and soon. The grad student star of Take a Hint, Dani Brown is in hot pursuit of her PhD, but her latest partner ‘caught feelings’ and if there’s one thing Dani is clear on, it’s that she doesn’t want anything more from her relationships than a good time in bed. So, she’s dumped her girlfriend and is on the lookout for a new buddy to help her deal with the tension of academia—but definitely not a relationship. There’s the very cute security guard at her university office, but big, brooding former rugby pro Zafir Ansari doesn’t seem interested in her. That all changes the day a botched fire drill results in Zaf carrying Dani from the building, a sight that proves irresistible to a student who posts video of the rescue online. In short order, #Dr. Rugbae is trending online, and Zaf and Dani are barraged with questions about the secrets to their hot relationship.
At first, Dani and Zaf are appalled by the attention, but both realize the attention could be a plus. Dani gets some much needed action, and Zafir gets much-needed awareness for the charity he’s founded to address boys’ emotional health. After all, it’s just faking a relationship for as long as the social media spotlight is on them—maybe a few weeks or a month? But while Dani might be sticking to the deadline, Zafir has long held a torch for Dani, and he’s not about to let her talk herself out of what he knows is the real thing, even if it will take all his patience to convince her.
Talia Hibbert takes the old equation of a faked relationship and adds a lot of zing to the formula, thanks mostly to her two great leads. Dani’s driven nature and the reasons she’s so shy of commitment sounds like much of the pressure young academics place on themselves today, and her confident approach to sex and her own abilities is refreshing. Zafir is well-done too; he’s frank with Dani about the depression he suffered after the devastating deaths of his brother and father and how it’s sometimes still a struggle for him to keep his mental health in balance. He makes some mistakes—a rushed attempt to make Dani commit to more being the biggest—but his respect for Dani and all that she’s been through makes him a hero that one really wants to see get his HEA. Hibbert supports her main couple with a great supporting cast and reveals that she’s a master at writing great sex scenes. And this romance reader’s heart melted when it was revealed that Zafir used romance novels as part of his coping strategy to recover from his family (bonus points if you can figure out which real-life novel Dani finds in his apartment). Hibbert is a bit of a rising star in romance quarters, and Take a Hint proves that she’s on her way to being a staple on romance readers’ shelves.