Get a Life, Chloe Brown
by Talia Hibbert
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 motorbike.
• 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 out step-by-step guidelines. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job: Redford ‘Red’ Morgan.
With tattoos and a motorbike, Red is the perfect helper in her mission to rebel, but as they spend more time together, Chloe realises there’s much more to him than his tough exterior implies. Soon she’s left wanting more from him than she ever expected . . . maybe there’s more to life than her list ever imagined?
Romance is a genre I’m continuing to explore and continuing to enjoy, so when I saw Get a Life, Chloe Brown everywhere last year I knew it was only a matter of time before I got to it. Not only because Talia Hibbert is a Black author and, when I look at the romance genre, I tend to find myself gravitating towards the work of a lot of authors who look like me and I want to avoid only reading voices like mine, but because in Chloe Brown we have a heroine who isn’t slim and I am here for some chubby rep in romance.
Chloe lives with fibromyalgia, which means her life thus far has been very safe just to stop herself from living in agony. Her situation hasn’t been helped by ex-friends and an ex-partner who distanced themselves from her when she began to live with chronic pain, meaning her closest friends now are her two younger sisters, Dani and Eve.
After she’s almost hit by a car her life flashes before her eyes—and she realises just how boring it seems. So Chloe writes her ‘Get a Life’ list, which includes moving out of the family home, only to end up roping the cute superintendent of her block of flats, Red, into her plans.
The biggest surprise for me when I opened this book is that it’s set in the UK! I genuinely thought this was an American story – though if I’d taken a moment to look at Talia Hibbert’s bio I would have realised she’s British herself – and it was such a pleasant surprise to see British colloquialisms in a contemporary romance novel. Even more pleasant? It’s not set in London. What a breath of fresh air.
Hibbert’s writing is so easy and enjoyable. This book was exactly what I needed when I picked it up, in fact these days I often find myself turning to the romance genre when I feel a little down, and if you can feel yourself edging towards a slump I’d recommend giving this book a try. Not only is it very cute, while also touching on some more serious issues, but by introducing us to Chloe’s sisters we know there are at least two more romances from this family to come, and I’m definitely interested in checking them out.
It’s refreshing to see a heroine with chronic pain at the centre of a romance novel, and also refreshing to see a hero who has been in an abusive relationship in the past; when we talk about domestic abuse we often, understandably, focus on the abuse that women suffer, but while it’s something that doesn’t happen to men as often, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen at all. I really appreciate the way Hibbert normalised everything. Domestic abuse towards anyone is never something we should consider ‘normal’, of course, but I respected that Hibbert included a man with an abusive past relationship who was never judged by any of the other characters for being the victim, because the fault lies with his ex-partner—as it rightly should.
Once Chloe and Red get over their initial dislike of each other, their romance is very sweet. I loved having a plus size character in Chloe who’s size is never the focus at all – her being self-conscious or people judging her for her size literally never come up, so, again, I loved that Hibbert normalised how plus size people can also be sexy and desirable – and how thoughtful Red is in regards to her chronic pain, without ever patronising her, is just plain lovely.
For me, though, they were declaring their love for each other a little too quickly. Maybe it’s not what readers want on the whole, but I’d love to see more romance novels ending with people starting an exciting new relationship without the need for them to declare their undying love for each other. Having said that, I did love that Hibbert made a point of both Chloe and Red acknowledging that of course they could survive without each other—they just don’t want to. Some couples in romance books can seem unhealthily dependent on each other, so I loved that that wasn’t the case here.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown is a cute, quick contemporary romance that’s definitely worth your time – especially if you’re in need of a pick-me-up – and I’m looking forward to trying more of Hibbert’s work!