by Talia Hibbert
Publisher: Nixon House
Publication Date: April 22, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Protective. Obsessive. And rough around the edges.
James Foster knows the rules: you don’t fall for your best friend’s little sister. Nina is too young, too reckless, and too busy saving the world to be tied down by the commitment he craves.
If he was smart, he’d stop wanting her. But she’s the one thing on earth James just can’t quit.
Fierce. Principled. And impossible to resist.
Political campaigner Nina Chapman is sick of one-time things. She wants forever, and she wants it with her brother’s best friend—but James still sees her as a child to be coddled.
So when a controversial article lands Nina in hot water, she finds herself under his protection and under his roof. It’s a shame James doesn’t want her in his bed, too.
…Or does he?
Warning: this red-hot novella contains one radical leftist heroine, one over-protective hero, one annoying childhood nickname, and a shared apartment with only one bed. Also, Brexit. But not too much, I promise.
Please note:a version of this novella was previously published as Resisting Desire in the Rogue Nights anthology. This version has been revised and expanded to double its previous length.
First off, this is an expanded reissue of Talia Hibbert’s “Resisting Desire” from the Rogue Nights anthology. I reviewed it ages ago (has Brexit really been going on so long?) and remembered enjoying it, so I was excited to see what had been added and revisit some old friends. This is set after the two Dirty British Romance books, and while the main characters from Wanna Bet? make an appearance, this could be read as a standalone with no issues.
“Three years of unrequited adoration was more than enough. She was a dignified sort of woman, after all.”
Nina runs a website dedicated to independent political reporting, and her latest article on Brexit has led to death threats. Afraid to stay in her own home, and knowing the police will be of no help, she reaches out to her brother’s best friend James for help. Problem is, things are a bit awkward between the childhood friends after a kiss led to a make out session that blew both their minds. Can they go back to being just friends, or is whatever between them worth risking that friendship to explore?
“Everything was awful right now—monumentally awful—and this man was her only haven.
She couldn’t risk it. She couldn’t risk him.
Not now. Not ever.”
This novella is a whole bucketful of tropes – sibling’s best friend, friends to lovers, and forced proximity. While the sibling’s best friend trope is there – it’s how Nina and James met and became friends themselves – the worry about what her brother might think/James jeopardizing his friendship with him isn’t a big focus of the book, which I appreciated as that trope can make me go all “down with the patriarchy!” pretty quickly. Most of the fear of acting on their feelings is that they’ll ruin their own friendship – or rather, that a spur of the moment kiss (that led to a whole lot more) already has. Nina tends towards love-’em-and-leave-’em, and James worries that changing the terms of their relationship will mean that he’ll become just another notch on her bedpost. So while it hurts to keep his feelings from her, it’d hurt James’ heart even more if she left his life completely. Nina has some of the same worries, though for her, it’s more that she thinks he still has her cast firmly in the “kid sister” role, and his
“oh hell no” reaction to the steamy goings-on on his couch have cemented her commitment to keeping things platonic. It doesn’t help either of them that the awkwardness between them – six weeks of no contact – also happened squarely when Nina began receiving death threats, so James blames his libido for not being there for Nina when she needed him. My favorite part of this story, though, is that while Nina does lean on James for support, she’s the one who figures out the solution to her problems.
While many scenes have been expanded, my favorite addition was a trip to a trampoline party place. Seeing Nina and James goofing around together added a new dimension to their relationship that wasn’t present before. It’s a nice bit of lightness, too, as Ms. Hibbert doesn’t shy away from the realities of police racism and the double-standards for women in media, especially Black women, or the tension between doing what is right and protecting those you love.
The original story was one of the first things by Talia Hibbert that I read, and even though I’ve gobbled up the rest of her books since then, this one is still a sentimental favorite!