I have surprised myself in that I have managed to read yet another novel! What is this new life of mine? I’m liking how being liberated from being a student feels. Unemployed for the while, I am listening to podcasts, reading, watching TV and attempting to clean the house. Reading is still super-slow as I had a whole lot of administrative things to do around the thesis as well as finally sinking my teeth into some research that I have had on hold for a while (now to get some funding!). Meanwhile, it’s SuperWendy’s TBR challenge once again and this month’s theme is a new-to-me author and as is my usual way – there are some vague spoilers.
Book: Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Blurb: 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…
How did I find this book: There had been a lot of Twitter chat around this book from people with similar book tastes to me. I had to put in a purchase request for the book (back in 2019!!!!) which didn’t come through until 2020 (to this day I cannot work out why the 2 libraries I borrow from don’t automatically reserve your purchase requests when they come in) by which time there was a long reservation list. I ended up borrowing this book from a NSW public library 18 months after I requested it (sooooo not impressed).
Meet Cute: Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek who moves out of home into a flat after a near death experience. Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is her building’s superintendent who had a previous life as an artist in London. This first meeting isn’t seen at the beginning of their story, which has the first on-the-page meeting as one of snarly grumpiness at each other having decided that they didn’t like each other from their earlier (off-the-page) interactions.
Red has issues around being used by rich women as his previous partner had been far from the loveliest person. As Chloe is from a rich family, this creates issues between them, especially as she keeps her own life private from her family, and in doing so, causes problems in how Red feels about her and himself. I liked both characters in this book. After getting over their initial dislike of each other, they seemed very well suited with most of their problems and tensions coming from their internalised view of themselves and slowly revealing their problems from the past to each other. Misunderstandings occur but they are all overcome with some sensible transparency. And a prop cat who really didn’t forward the story beyond introducing a weirdly flat secondary character.
Will they last: Definitely. These two are too needy to break up. Plus they are quite forthcoming in talking about their feelings. Not saying that is all it takes to hold a relationship together but these two just seem good for the long term.
Feelings: Overall, the dialogue was sharp, the premise was fun, however the book was a bit long and drawn out. There are a few things that surprised me. Firstly, this is an English romance, set in the UK. Which I really didn’t expect but it made me happy and I was fully on board with it because I really like the UK and this book was soooo far away from the usual chicklit shag in a small country village – which I also don’t mind but this was way more different. (I was going to write more relatable but then I thought about my lovely English cousins in-law who mostly live in English villages and seaside towns so I couldn’t really claim that). The book really spoke to my city-loving heart. A teeny-tiny annoyance though was that “storey” as in the apartment floor that Chloe lived on was misspelled as “story” and that is clearly USian spelling, which is totally fine if the book was USian or set in the US but damn it, it was set in the UK and I really really really have a thing for the loveliness of the word “storey”.
This book could have easily been 60 pages shorter. There were whole sections that just felt like filler text. I really think that had this novel at least aimed for the perfect length of a category romance, the tension would have been stronger and instantly palpable. A short, sharp lens on the relationship rather than the meandering loveliness of Chloe and Red’s story which just seemed to peter out. It was an OK read. I got a bit bored but it had enough fun parts that I still finished it. And really, maybe the fault wasn’t in the actual novel. The fault may have been that I got distracted halfway through the book when I received my thesis results……….