Get a Life, Chloe Brown, by Talia Hibbert

July 16, 2020 Book Reviews 4 ★★★★★

Get a Life, Chloe Brown, by Talia HibbertGeat a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Series: Brown Sisters #1
Published by Avon on Nov. 5, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the library
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Audible
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five-stars

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 glamorous 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…

This book may not be suitable for readers under 17 years of age.

Chloe Brown hits all the right notes

Warm, funny, emotional, sexy, and insightful, Get a Life, Chloe Brown hit all the right notes for me; it’s easily one of the best books I have read this year so far. It’s hilarious — I laughed out loud at the wry, witty exchanges between Chloe and Red (their emails, OMG!) — and heartbreaking by turns. What really makes it stand out is how well Hibbert writes the two main characters, capturing their strengths and their fears, their hopes and their pain, and the ways their various coping mechanisms both help them and stand in their way.

I fell for Red in his very first scene, warming to his empathy for a casserole-making tenant. Every subsequent scene just helped cement that first impression: he’s a gentle giant with a very soft heart. Chloe’s wake-up call, the brush with death that opens the book, made me instantly sympathetic, but it took me a little longer to truly warm up to her because she’s often curt and sometimes rude (mostly a defense mechanism, as I quickly realized.) Nonetheless she has a great sense of humor and a boatload of courage, and by the end of the cat-rescue scene she had completely won me over. Chloe and Red’s growing relationship feels authentic and real: joyful and heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant in ways I can’t explain without spoilers, but which left me uplifted and smiling from ear to ear.

The representation in this novel is terrific. Chloe lives with chronic illness. She is almost always in pain and often runs out of “spoons” for days at a time. (If you’re unfamiliar with the spoons analogy for chronic illness, you can read the origin of the theory here.) Hibbert portrays Chloe with empathy and understanding, but not an ounce of pity. She never lets us forget that Chloe is a whole person, not an illness — a person who absolutely deserves love and a HEA. In fact, one of the things I love most about Red is that he takes Chloe’s physical needs and (dis)abilities into account without being patronizing or overprotective, and finds ways to support her in doing the things she really wants to do. And she, in turn, finds ways to support and encourage Red, who is still struggling to regain his confidence after a devastating experience.

The representation doesn’t stop with at chronic illness; Chloe is also Black and plump, while Red comes from a poor, working-class background. Again, Hibbert’s portrayal of the characters shows that these are aspects of these individuals that help form who they are, but do not define them. And not once is Chloe’s weight described in a negative way (in fact, it’s barely mentioned at all.) The whole novel is a shining example of the right way to write characters of all sorts: as people with individual, intersectional identities, not as one-dimensional stereotypes.

I also love the fact that the novel is set in England, because most of the contemporary romances I read are set in the US. (I just wish Avon hadn’t Americanized the spelling and maybe the slang.) And I love Chloe’s sisters, who tease and harangue her mercilessly, take over when she needs help, and always, always have her back. In short, I loved the whole book! I can hardly wait to read Dani’s story, which came out just a few weeks ago.

five-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Diversity Reading Challenge 2020
  • Library Love Challenge 2020

4 Responses to “Get a Life, Chloe Brown, by Talia Hibbert”

  1. Katherine

    This sounds fun and I do love that it’s set in England as I’m with you on most of the contemporary romance I read being set in the US. I’ll have to add this to my TBR and give it a try.