An illustration of Talia Hibbert for an article about her romance novels. (Illustration by Sonja Vasiljeva, San Jose State University)

Talia Hibbert Is the Master of Modern Romance Novels

With her genuine writing and diverse, complex characters, this popular novelist is leaving romance readers excited for more.
March 26, 2021
8 mins read

Talia Hibbert is one of the best modern romance novelists. Since her first novel, “Always With You,” was published back in 2017, she has amassed a cult following of readers who adore her stories and her characters. Even people who typically don’t reach for the romance genre love her work; I thought I hated romance novels until I picked up Hibbert’s “Get a Life, Chloe Brown.”

Though she has published over 20 different romantic stories, the series that brought Hibbert the most notoriety in the genre is “The Brown Sisters.” The three books within the series are “Get a Life, Chloe Brown,” which follows a budding relationship between Chloe and Redford; “Take a Hint, Dani Brown,” with the couple Dani and Zafir; and “Act Your Age, Eve Brown,” which chronicles a romance between Eve and Jacob.

“The Brown Sisters” is a series, but the books can be read in any order or even as standalones. Each novel follows a different Brown sister, and each sister has a distinct and vibrant personality. One of Hibbert’s talents is that she can create relatable and loveable characters while providing them with autonomy and distinct voices. So if you decide to dive into the series, rest assured that each book will feel different than the last. You’ll find something to love about each of the Brown sisters.

“Get a Life, Chloe Brown”

“Get a Life, Chloe Brown” is the first novel in the series. Chloe Brown struggles with fibromyalgia, and because of her chronic illness, she feels like she doesn’t really have a life. When she almost gets hit by a car, Chloe decides that it’s time to finally start living, so she makes a bucket list of things she wants to do. The list includes experiences like moving into her own apartment, going camping, riding a motorcycle and having meaningless sex.

Enter Redford “Red” Morgan, the incredibly attractive handyman at Chloe’s new apartment. The two dislike each other at first sight, but after a few hilarious and heartwarming moments — including one where Red rescues Chloe from a tree she climbed while trying to rescue a kitten — the two develop a relationship. Red helps Chloe complete her “get a life” list, and romantic shenanigans ensue.

As the relationship grows, the couple learns a lot about each other. Red opens up about his past relationship trauma and how his ex-girlfriend mistreated him. His past makes him hesitant to trust Chloe, and it’s something that the two have to work through together. Having these types of conversations between her characters is what makes Hibbert’s writing so powerful. She doesn’t just create fake, happy couples. She encourages communication, reflection and growth in a way that isn’t always seen in romance novels.

“Take a Hint, Dani Brown”

The same could be said for Dani and Zafir in “Take a Hint, Dani Brown.” Dani Brown is a woman working her way up in the academic world, and she only has time for a career. She doesn’t want a relationship because she feels like she’s far too busy to put in the time and effort one requires.

On the other hand, Zafir is Dani’s polar opposite when it comes to romantic goals. Zafir works as a security guard at the building where Dani teaches, and he’s ready to settle down and find his true love. He listens to romance audiobooks and longs to find his future soulmate. However, he struggles with intense anxiety, which leads to some problems with his romantic relationships.

The representation of anxiety in “Take a Hint, Dani Brown,” is well done. I struggle with anxiety like Zafir does, and I’ve never felt so represented by a character in literature before. At certain points, his thoughts read like my own had been spilled onto the page.

After a fire drill goes wrong and Zafir has to carry Dani out of a building, a picture of them goes viral. The two decide to start a fake relationship because Dani hopes it’ll lead to a friends with benefits situation, and Zafir is optimistic that the internet popularity will help his mental health charity. However, the relationship starts to become more and more realistic, and neither one of them knows if they want it to remain fake. As they begin to build a better relationship with each other, Dani and Zafir develop a better relationship with themselves, too, and it’s wonderful to read.

“Act Your Age, Eve Brown”

Lastly, Hibbert just released “Act Your Age, Eve Brown” on March 9. If Hibbert’s last two novels are any indication, all three novels will have you smiling until you reach the last page, but that isn’t even the best thing about them. Hibbert uses her writing to deeply explore the arcs of both of the individuals involved in each of her characters’ relationships.

In contrast, a lot of romance writers make their heroine as vague as possible so that readers can project themselves onto that character and pretend that they exist within the story. However, one of the best aspects of the romance genre is how it can dissect human emotions and portray communication.

Romance isn’t typically a fast-paced genre. Sometimes, there’s a slow 100-page buildup before the couple even kisses for the first time. That can make the genre boring for people who don’t care much for wish fulfillment. However, Hibbert uses her stories to portray realistic relationships between relatable main characters. Almost anyone can connect with having a crush, going on dates or being in a relationship. That’s why using the genre to commentate on what it means to have a healthy relationship is so powerful.

Though “The Brown Sisters” series is complete, it doesn’t mean that Hibbert is finished writing. Her flawless ability to craft understandable characters and realistic, healthy relationships means that whatever she publishes next is sure to be a fantastic read. Until then, she has a backlog of over 20 stories. Maybe it’s time to check out a few of them or to read “The Brown Sisters” if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.

Emma Watts, University of Arizona

Writer Profile

Emma Watts

University of Arizona
English and Political Science

My name is Emma Watts and I go to school at the University of Arizona. My majors are political science and English, so I spend about 80% of my time writing and reading.

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