Act Your Age, Eve Brown
by Talia Hibbert
Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins a wedding, her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…
Jacob Wayne is always in control. The uptight B&B owner expects nothing less than perfection from his employees, so when a purple-haired tornado of a woman applies for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident.
Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else entirely…
When I finished Take a Hint, Dani Brown, I was convinced I’d read my favourite book in this series, but I was still looking forward to Eve’s story even though I didn’t feel like I had as much of a sense of who she was as I did her sisters. As the youngest of three sisters myself I made a joke of being ready for this book to call me out – I had no idea just how true that would prove to be.
Eve is not only the youngest of the Brown sisters, she’s also the only sister still living at home with their parents and, unlike Chloe and Dani, Eve doesn’t really have her life together. She has no idea what she wants to do – she bounces from idea to idea until she loses her enthusiasm for it and gives up – but when one of her business ideas once again falls through, her parents put their foot down. Eve will have to hold down a job for a year before she’s allowed access to the generous fund her parents have been able to set aside for her.
Distraught, Eve gets into her car and accidentally drives herself to the Lake District, where she applies for the first job she sees at a cosy B&B, is rejected, and then accidentally hits the owner with her car. With a broken arm, and no other choice, Jacob Wayne is forced to let Eve take up the chef position. Eve’s chaotic, Jacob couldn’t be more orderly, and they don’t like each other at all. Until they do…
Act Your Age, Eve Brown might be my favourite romance novel, because there were times when I felt so seen and those moments weren’t always comfortable. Eve and I aren’t alike in many ways – frankly, I think she’s a lot nicer than I am and she’s far less anxious – but the similarities we do share meant it wasn’t hard for me to understand her point of view. To many people Eve might come across as a bit of a spoiled brat, and in many ways she is, but she’s also the youngest child in a family for whom success seems to come so naturally. Her parents have done well enough that they’re able to financially support all three of their daughters, should they need anything, and both Chloe and Dani know what they’re doing career-wise even if their love lives were once a bit of a mess.
Eve, in comparison, has no idea what she wants to do, and it’s not for lack of trying. Nothing sticks. What I loved about this novel is that we get to see Eve learn what success looks like to her, not to her family, because it’s fear of failure – and disappointing her parents by failing – that’s at the heart of Eve’s inability to pick a vocation and stick to it. As a youngest child with two older sisters who seem to have their whole lives together, and parents I can’t stand the thought of disappointing, this novel spoke to me the way a lot of other romance novels haven’t.
Speaking of the romance, I love Eve and Jacob. I will forever be weak for the sunshine and grump pairing, it’s like candy to me, and their chemistry was brilliant. Plus it was so refreshing to read a romance novel featuring two autistic protagonists. The language could sometimes be a little over the top, particularly during the sex scenes, and the romance between these two did seem to blossom rather quickly compared to the other books in this series. Then again, Eve is very much a jump headfirst kind of heroine, so I didn’t find it hard to believe that her feelings for Jacob developed as quickly as they did.
This was fun, flirty and oddly cathartic for me. I loved it, and I’ll be looking forward to what Hibbert does next!