Chloe Brown does not like Tuesdays. They’re cursed, didn’t you know? So when she’s nearly run over by a Range Rover on a Tuesday, it feels ominous. And when a paramedic asks, “Are you OK, my darling?” she realizes that she’s very much not.
The protagonist in British author Talia Hibbert’s new contemporary romance, “Get a Life, Chloe Brown,” has not been OK for some time. She has fibromyalgia, and her life has changed significantly since her symptoms began in her 20s. Now 31, she’s a web designer with a loving family, but the rest of her life is as wild as a cup of Earl Grey. She’s pretty sure that her eulogy would say, “This mind-blowing bore ... liked to code on the weekends, and never did anything that wasn’t scheduled in her planner. Don’t cry for her; she’s in a better place now. Even Heaven can’t be that dull.” After her near-death experience, Chloe’s fired up to transform her Earl Grey life into a shot of Jack Daniel’s.
What does a sensible woman do when she wants to get crazy? She makes a list. Chloe pens seven new goals including “Move out ... Ride a motorbike ... Do something bad.”
Goal No. 1 is easy. Chloe comes from a moneyed family in England with Jamaican roots and though her family is a joy, it’s time to go. She settles into her own flat where she quickly crosses off “Do something bad.” It just so happens that the super in her building, Redford “Red” Morgan, is good looking. Make that great looking, especially when she spies him from across the courtyard removing most of his clothes while he paints in his bedroom.
Despite the desirable view, the two are oil and water when they first meet: Red sees Chloe an “unrepentant snob” and, to Chloe, Red comes across as overconfident and too much of a reminder of her old life. But humorous high jinks lead to intense physical chemistry, and the two are quickly entangled. Red, a talented painter who abruptly left the art world, is ready to enter it again and needs a website, something Chloe can provide. In exchange, Red, owner of a motorbike and long locks that match his name, helps Chloe with her list.
But goals are made to be altered, and the two quickly realize that what they really need is help with healing their wounds and rediscovering how to live big again.
Hibbert’s characters are not perfect. When Red is admiring Chloe’s gorgeous brown skin and plus-sized curves, he’s also noticing the opioid patch she’s wearing for pain. When she’s kissing his rippling muscles, she’s also trying to heal him from the kind of emotional trauma that’s seldom attached to male romantic leads. They are realistically flawed - and hilarious and sexy, their bedroom high jinks scorching enough to make readers dissolve “like sugar in hot tea.”
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With “Get a Life, Chloe Brown,” Hibbert joins important voices in contemporary romance (Helen Hoang comes to mind) who write steamy page-turners where the characters look nothing like they did a generation ago - and that’s a wonderful thing. Go ahead and push pause on your own life to get to know Chloe Brown.