cinnamon rolls and prickly pears
Get a Life, Chloe Brown (the Brown Sisters #1)
Avon Books, 2019.
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CW: intimate partner abuse
Hibbert’s novel, set in her native England, tells the enemies-to-lovers story of Redford “Red” Morgan and Chloe Brown. Red is a visual artist, who struggles with a creative block after an abusive relationship. He currently serves as the supervisor of the apartment building where Chloe lives, and is what we in Romancelandia call a cinnamon roll—a soft, sweet, and nurturing character. Chloe, outwardly prickly and blunt, is a web designer whose life is shaped by—and currently limited by—her chronic illness, fibromyalgia. She resolves to get a life, and makes a list of tasks that will shake up her world and help her get a life: “ride a motorbike, go camping, have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex” and so on (Hibbert 25). Through a series of events, Chloe enlists Red to help her complete the items on her list, and adds to her list as she falls for him. This interracial, interclass relationship faces external challenges as the characters make assumptions about each other based on some of their identity categories (Red is White, and is from a lower socioeconomic class, while Chloe is Black and wealthy). The novel engages thoughtfully with the impact of abusive relationships, as well as the ongoing toll of chronic illness, and how both of these life challenges impact future relationships. I love how Hibbert shows romance blooming as both characters reconnect to their own passions and power.
This review originally appeared at UWGB CAHSS and Effect: Happy Hearts: Romancelandia