Book Review

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral…

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?


A thoroughly enjoyable friends-to-lovers romance novel with a fake dating plot! Be still, my fanfic heart. With sparkling dialogue, diverse characters, and meaningful relationships beyond the romantic, Take a Hint, Dani Brown is a great read.

I don’t read romance novels all that often. Every time I do, I wonder why this is; they are so fun! Every one of its 320 pages flew by. Dani Brown is a fabulous lead – she is a confident black woman who practices witchcraft in honor of her grandmother and has sworn off romance because it hurts her heart…sorry, because she doesn’t have time for that nonsense! The book shares her perspective with Zafir Ansari, a Middle Eastern man whose career as a rugby player was cut short after a mental breakdown following a tragic family accident.

This is classic opposites attract with all of the sparks this usually entails, but with the added bonus of genuine complementarity. When Zafir is anxious, Dani steps in to support him or divert attention. When Dani works too late, Zafir shows up with food and a gentle reminder to sleep. They respect each other’s differences and allow themselves to be changed by each other – so sweet!

With a fake dating plot, of course this story is a bit ridiculous, and that is what makes it fun. There’s just enough miscommunication to keep things interesting, but not so much that everything would be fixed if they just had one conversation. Importantly, the miscommunication is usually internal. Dani truly believes she’s bad at romance and should avoid it, and Zaf truly believes he will be happy with a sex buddy without strings. They have to confront themselves before they can confront each other.

As much as I loved Dani and Zaf with their snarky conversations and sizzling chemistry, I loved that each of them had family and friends who were equally interesting. I love a romance where the leads remember other people still exist!

What Makes This Book Queer?

Dani is a bisexual woman who has dated men and women. The story opens with her processing the breakup of her ex-girlfriend, who wanted something serious despite agreeing to only sex. In a really lovely, slightly spoilery, moment towards the end of the book, Dani circles back around to this ex to have a conversation about what they experience together.

I love a bisexual woman confidently owning her sexuality while in a heterosexual relationship. And I love a man who is totally okay with her bisexuality. They are both A++ characters, and this bisexual lady would like to date them both!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

Find more books nominated for Lambda Literary Awards reviewed here!

8 comments on “Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

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